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7 December 2021 / Laura Garvin Gomez

Basil Essential Oil: History, Uses and Benefits

Basil essential oil can aid with cleaning, digestion and even ear infections.

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Basil leaf on a wooden table.

Basil is one of the most popular herbs currently in use, and a staple in most herb gardens.

However, a lot of people don’t know just how far back its popularity stretches.

Medicinally, basil has been used for centuries to treat melancholy, skin conditions, indigestion, and coughs, as well as being used to build strength in the body.

These days, basil oil is still used for all these things, and new applications on how it can further improve our minds and bodies are being discovered all the time.

What is Basil Essential Oil?

Sometimes referred to as “common basil”, “sweet basil”, or Ocimum Canum, basil essential oil is a balsamic, woody oil with lightly sweet and spicy notes integrated throughout.

While the basil tree is native to tropical Asia and Africa, it can be found all around the world as a common herb and has over 70 subspecies in total.

Basil is steam distilled from the leaves of its tree to create a pale yellow to pale green coloured oil. Like the herb itself, basil oil has been known to be used at a very low percentage in culinary applications, as well as in perfumes, soaps, and other cosmetics.

What are the benefits of Basil Essential Oil?

Basil’s status as a popular garden herb has earned it the right to extensive research, which has since translated to the oil and created numerous impactful health and wellness benefits.

Some of the most popular basil essential oil benefits include:

  • Antimicrobial effects
  • Calming swelling
  • Repelling insects
  • Aiding digestion
  • Uplifting mood

Basil plant in the sun.

Is basil essential oil antimicrobial?

Basil oil has been found to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties, which gives it a range of applications.

For example, a found that basil oil can be effective in fighting the E.coli bacteria, and it has also been proven that basil oil can when it is included in the water that fresh produce is washed in.

Using a diluted amount of basil oil to wash produce at home may help to protect you and your family against bacteria.

It was also that basil oil’s antiviral properties can help to fight against colds and flu by attacking the viruses responsible.

Finally, its antifungal properties can help to remove odours in the home by tackling guilty fungi. All this makes it a fantastic addition to both a medicine cupboard and a home cleaning kit.

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Can basil oil help to calm swelling and inflammation?

Basil oil has anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it a great choice for massage as it can help soothe sore and swollen muscles.

These anti-inflammatory properties also make it a good addition to acne-fighting facial cleansers.

Studies in both  and found that basil oil was effective in calming the inflammatory symptoms of acne, reducing its appearance on the skin, and the 2012 study also noticed that any redness caused by the oil lasted only a matter of minutes before no side effects were presented.

It has even been suggested that basil oil can help with ear infections – a found that treating the infected ear canals of animals with basil oil was effective over half the time.

This research is still rudimentary but rubbing a diluted amount of basil oil on the skin behind the ear may help to reduce swelling in the ear canal.

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Does basil essential oil repel insects?

Research has shown that basil can help to prevent bug bites and keep pests out of the home. It is suggested that this is due to the volatile oils in basil that act as natural bug repellents.

Spraying a solution of basil oil, water, and an emulsifier like dish soap onto areas of the home that you want to protect from bugs may help to keep them at bay.

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Does basil oil help to aid digestion?

One of the oldest uses of basil is for its carminative properties, which means that it is effective at relieving flatulence.

Many people find that using a diluted amount of basil oil on the stomach helps to provide relief from gas and constipation – as well as reduce pain that comes from gas build up.

Try rubbing a diluted amount of basil oil on the lower abdomen to feel these effects.

Even though you may see that the FDA recognises basil oil as safe for consumption, there can still be many risks to this.

We would always advise against ingesting any essential oil and recommend applying topically instead, or at least consulting a doctor.

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Is basil essential oil good for low mood?

Historically, basil oil was used in the Middle Ages to treat signs of melancholy and stress.

This application is still very much prevalent today, with a confirming the mood-boosting effects of basil when tested on mice experiencing chronic unpredictable mild stress.

A also concluded that inhalation of basil oil could reduce feelings of mental fatigue and burnout, allowing for increased alertness and concentration over time.

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How to use Basil Essential Oil

Aromatherapy

While the scent of basil can vary depending on the region the plant is grown in and the part of the plant it is distilled from, the familiar sweet yet balsamic notes of this oil are a welcome addition to any home environment.

Diffusing some basil essential oil in your office or study spaces may help to reduce signs of burnout and increase alertness, as well as reduce signs of stress.

Massage

The anti-inflammatory properties of basil oil mean it is able to soothe and recover sore or swollen muscles, particularly around the joints.

The same effects also come into play for improving digestive issues, combined with basil’s carminative qualities.

Dilute a few drops of basil essential oil with a carrier oil and apply to problem areas for gentle relief.

Skincare

Basil’s successes against inflammation also make it a key player in the reduction of acne, redness, and other irritations on the skin.

Its antibacterial and antifungal effects also play a role in clearing skin and using some diluted basil oil as a spot treatment could really improve its look and feel overall.

Home cleaning

Sprinkle some diluted basil oil into your basin while washing fresh produce to potentially reduce the risk of harmful microorganisms and bacteria.

You can also add some basil to a spray bottle and use as a top-up for keeping surfaces clean.

History of Basil Essential Oil

The use of basil for its medicinal properties originated in India, where it was considered holy to individuals of the Hindu faith, but the herb itself has been revered since the time of the Ancient Greeks.

Gaining its name from the Greek and Latin words meaning “royal plant” and “royal herb” respectively, basil oil gained significant traction as a ritualistic plant in many religious practices.

In Jewish folklore it was used to build strength whilst fasting, while Orthodox churches would sprinkle the oil in holy water as a part of its preparation.

Various traditions also considered basil as a protective oil against evil spirits, which later tied into its associations as an aid against low mood and mental strain.

Basil Illustration

    Many centuries after it was first used in traditional medicine, basil can now more typically be found in our kitchens, used as a cooking herb and nothing more.

    However, there are lots of ways in which basil oil can be used as an effective home remedy, and as the research begins to catch up, it might be time to consider re-adding basil to our medicine cabinets.

    Product Name

    100% Pure Basil Essential Oil
    Botanical Name Ocimum Canum
    Scent Type Herbs
    Benefits & Uses Culinary Uses, Calming, Insect Repellent
    Suitable for Diffusers? Yes, this basil essential oil is perfect for diffusers.
    Suitable for Candles and Soaps? Yes, this basil essential oil is perfect for candle and soap making.
    Extraction Method Steam Distillation
    Bottle Type Tamper proof and UV resistant

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