Basil Essential Oil
Botanical Names: Ocimum basilicum, Ocimum sanctum (tulsi or Holy Basil)
Botanical Family: Labiatae/ Lamiaceae
There are different types of basil essential oils so only using the name Basil can get confusing pretty fast. Diverse origins and chemotypes account for the different varieties. The type of basil typically used in Aromatherapy is the linalool chemotype, commonly referred to a Basil Linalool, Sweet Basil, or just Basil. You may also encounter Exotic Basil which is high in methyl chavicol, and Holy Basil (Tulsi), which should be labeled with the botanical name Ocimum sanctum. Since Basil Linalool is the type preferred for Aromatherapy the information here focuses on the linalool chemotype.
Basil is an annual herb native to India, but is cultivated worldwide with most essential oil coming from plants grown in Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia. The essential oil is distilled from the leaf and flowering tops of the plant. Basil is on the lower end of the essential oil pricing scale. While there will be price variations based on origin and chemotype a good Basil Linalool can currently be purchased for under $15 for 10mL.
The dominant scent of basil is bright evergreen herbaceous mint. Basil is clean and fresh with a zing to is that feels yellow but is too spicy to be lemon. When I smell basil essential oil I get the feeling of sun shining over a green field but in an impressionist way rather than HD. One would think the scent is just like biting into a basil leaf but it’s softer.
Basil blends nicely with a large variety of essential oils but it is a high intensity fragrance so a light hand should be used when mixing. Basil can be used as a middle to top note and it’s most obvious function would be to help add a green refreshing note to your blend.
Basil is best known for it’s ability to stimulate digestion and alleviate problems like nausea and gas. Basil is tonifying, helping to dry up excess sebum in the skin and excess mucus in the body. Basil can be used as a remedy to reduce fever and promotes detoxification by increasing sweat production. Finally basil makes an excellent study aid as it helps to clear and revive the mind. Emotionally, basil oil is known to create a protective feeling for those who’ve been weakened by emotional trauma and lack of confidence.
Esoterically, basil is associated with money and abundance. For this effect you would inhale basil or eat a leaf while visualizing money flowing into your pockets and bank account. According to Magical Aromatherapy, people in the West Indies used to sprinkle basil water around a business to attract customers. In India Tulsi represents Lakshmi, the Goddess of Fortune and Beauty.
Safety: Basil contains the chemical constituent estragole. Estragole (methyl chavicol) mimics the estrogen hormone. For women who need help with fertility, lactation, or amenorrhea this could be beneficial. If you don’t suffer from those conditions or have a history of breast or ovarian cancer basil should definitely be used with caution or avoided all together. Even basil of the linalool chemotype contains estragole, it’s just present at a lower percentage that a non-linalool basil.
Exotic Basil on the other hand has a high percentage of estragole. When purchasing basil remember the botanical names of different chemotypes may be the same. If your supplier doesn’t indicate chemotype on their label you need to ask. Consult with your doctor or a trusted Aromatherapist if you have concerns. Always remember to research essential oils before using them for health issues.
I hope this helps you discover and enjoy working with Basil!