Basil is a primary ingredient in Italian food and is also used in some Southeast Asian cuisines. While there are several varieties of basil, all generally contain the same health benefits. Basil helps with digestive and kidney health. It has been believed contain a potent antioxidant component but that claim has yet to be scientifically proven.
Two teaspoons of basil contain about 7 calories and 60 percent of your recommended daily vitamin K. It is also a good source of iron, fiber, calcium, and vitamin A. You can reap the medical benefit of this plant by eating it fresh or dried or using the oil. Basil oil should not be used during pregnancy or given to small infants or children. No other adverse health reactions are known. Basil can be eaten or used as a tea.
The medicinal parts of the plant are the fresh or dried herb as well as the oil extracted from the dried aerial parts.
Flower and Fruit
The white, labiate flowers are in 6-blossomed, pedicled, almost sessile axillary false whorls. The calyx is bilabiate, and the corolla is 4-lobed. The 4 stamens lie on the simple lower lip.
Leaves, Stem, and Root
The plant grows from 20 to 40 cm high. The stem is erect, branched from the base up, and downy. The leaves are ovate or oblong. They are long-petioled, acuminate, irregularly dentate, or entire-margined.
Basil has a characteristic odor and sharp taste.
The plant probably originated in India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northern India, and now is cultivated worldwide.
Basil herb consists of the dried, above-ground parts of Ocimum basilicum. Oil of basil is the essential oil extracted from the dried aerial parts of Ocimum basilicum by steam distillation.
Actions & Pharmacology
Compounds: Basil Herb
Volatile oil: chief constituents are chavicol methyl ether (estragole), linalool and eugenol
Caffeic acid derivatives
Effects: Basil Herb
In vitro, Basil is antimicrobial.
Compounds: Basil Oil
Chief constituents: estragole (chavicol methyl ether), linalool, eugenol
Effects: Basil Oil
In vitro, the oil demonstrates an antimicrobial effect.
Indications & Usage
Preparations of basil are used for supportive therapy for feelings of fullness and flatulence, for the stimulation of appetite and digestion, and as a diuretic.
Basil herb is used for disturbances of renal function, gum ulcers, stomach cramps, and as a hemostyptic both before and after birth.
Among uses in Indian medicine are earaches, rheumatoid arthritis, anorexia, itching, and skin diseases, amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea, malaria, and other febrile illnesses.
Among traditional uses for the oil are wounds, rheumatic complaints, colds and chills, contusions, joint pains, and depression.
Precautions & Adverse Reactions
No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages.
The herb contains about 0.5% essential oil with up to 85% estragole. Because of the high estragole content in the essential oil, the herb should not be taken during pregnancy.
No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages. However, pending final determination of basil oil's carcinogenic potential, one should completely forgo administration of the drug.
Because a mutagenic effect in vitro and a carcinogenic effect in animal experiments have been demonstrated for estragole, oil of basil should not be administered during pregnancy or while nursing.
Basil oil should not be given to infants or small children.
Tea: 3 g of drug with 150 mL hot water.
Until the final determination of the drug's carcinogenic potential, one should completely forgo its administration.