Sweet basil Oil (Ocimum basilicum)

Sweet basil Oil
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Botanical name  Ocimum basilicum, ct. Estragole

Family   Lamiaceae

Origin  Italy

Source  Leaves

Method of extraction  Steam distillation

Appearance  Colourless to Pale yellow liquid

Blends With  Bergamot, Clary Sage, Clove Bud, Lime, Eucalyptus, Juniper, Neroli and Rosemary.

Aromatic Summary   : Basil has a sweet, spicy, fresh scent with a faint balsamic woody back note and a lasting sweetness that makes for a strong top note.

Product Abstract

Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi or as the botanical Ocimum basilicum, ct. Estragole and Ocimum basilicum, ct. Estragole is native to parts of Southern India and South East Asia.  It is used extensively across India in the practice of Ayurvedic medicine and for spiritual purposes.

In Ayurvedic medicine it is know to help treat colds, headaches, stomach disorders, inflammation, heart disease, various forms of poisoning, and malaria.

As a food ingredient the dried herb is very popular in Thai cuisine where it is often called 'Thai Holy Basil' (known locally as kaphrao). You will find it in many traditional Thai dishes so look out for it when you next indulge in your favourite Thai dishes!

In aromatherapy Holy Basil purifies and cleanses the air and is thought to support our respiratory, nervous and digestive systems.
It can also be used as an 'energiser' in room diffusers it is thought to stimulate the creative receptors in the brain when working (a good one to sneak into the office!).

Harvesting/Extraction Information

Although basil grows best outdoors, it can be grown indoors in a pot and, like most herbs, will do best on a sun-facing windowsill. It should be kept away from extremely cold drafts, and grows best in strong sunlight, therefore a greenhouse or row cover is ideal if available. It can, however, be grown even in a basement, under fluorescent lights.

If its leaves have wilted from lack of water, it will recover if watered thoroughly and placed in a sunny location. Yellow leaves towards the bottom of the plant are an indication that the plant has been stressed; usually this means that it needs less water, or less or more fertilizer.


Basil is possibly native to India and has been cultivated there for more than 5,000 years. It was thoroughly familiar to the Greek authors Theophrastus and Discords. It is a tender plant, best known as a culinary herb prominently featured Italian cuisine, and also plays a major role in  Southeast Asian cuisines of Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Taiwan. Depending on the species and cultivar, the leaves may taste somewhat like anise, with a strong, pungent, often sweet smell.

Common Usage

  • Cosmetic Applications
  • Improves Digestion
  • Relieves Cold
  • Treats Asthma
  • Treats Infections
  • Relieves Stress
  • Improves Blood Circulation
  • Alleviates Pain
  • Eye Care
  • Prevents Vomiting
  • Treats Itching


Basil essential oil and basil in any other form should be avoided by pregnant, breast feeding, or nursing women. On the other hand, some people suggest that it increases milk flow, but more research needs to be done.

Main Constituents

Linalool 53.7–58.3%

Eugenol 9.4–15.2%

1,8-Cineole 6.0–6.7%

(E)-a-Bergamotene 2.0–3.8%

Germacrene D 2.0–3.0%

T-Cadinol 2.6–3.0%

Estragole 0.2–2.0%

a-Bulnesene 1.3–1.8%

b-Elemene 0.9–1.5%

d-Cadinene 0.9–1.4%

(E)-b-Ocimene 1.0–1.3%

Bornyl acetate 0.8–1.2%

Methyleugenol tr–0.1%

Quality  May be adulterated with added linalool.
Safety summary
Hazards  May contain estragole and methyleugenol; skin sensitization (low risk)
Contraindications  None known
Maximum dermal use level
EU                                          No legal limit
IFRA                                       3.3%
Tisserand & Young                 3.3%

Our safety advice
We recommend a dermal maximum of 3.3%, based on 15.2% eugenol content with a dermal limit of 0.5%. Since this essential oil is antimutagenic, nongenotoxic, antioxidant and induces glutathione, it is likely that
constituents such as linalool and eugenol counteract the potentially carcinogenic action of estragole and methyleugenol. Therefore, no restrictions are required, in our opinion, with regard to carcinogenesis.

Regulatory guidelines
IFRA recommends a maximum dermal use level for eugenol of 0.5% for most product types, in order to avoid skin sensitization.  According to IFRA, essential oils rich in linalool should only be used when the level of peroxides is kept to the lowest practical value. The addition of antioxidants such as 0.1% BHT or a-tocopherol at the time of production is recommended. IFRA recommends a dermal maximum for estragole of 0.01% in leave-on or wash-off preparations for body and face. IFRA recommends that the maximum concentration of methyleugenol for. leave-on products such as body lotion should be 0.0004%. The equivalent SCCNFP maximum is 0.0002%.

Organ-specific effects
Adverse skin reactions  In a mouse local lymph node assay, unoxidized basil oil linalool CT was a moderate skin sensitizer. The dermal toxicity of linalool, eugenol and 1,8-cineole has been well studied, and eugenol is a potential cause of skin sensitization in dermatitis patients. Oxidation products of linalool may be skin sensitizing, but eugenol and 1,8-cineole are antioxidants.

Systemic effects
Acute toxicity  No information found.

Antioxidant/pro-oxidant activity  Basil oil linalool CT displayed potent DPPH radical scavenging activity, with an IC50 of 0.26 mL/mL.

Carcinogenic/anticarcinogenic potential A basil oil containing 69.2% linalool, 2.4% estragole, 1.9% geraniol, 1.4% eugenol andno methyleugenol was antimutagenic in S. typhimurium strains TA98, TA100 and TA102. This was attributed to the antioxidant action of the essential oil, notably the linalool content. Neither of two linalool CT basil oils was genotoxic in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The oils contained linalool 46.0%, 50.0%, estragole 8.1%, 16.5%, methyleugenol 1.6%, 0.5%, and eugenol 2.5%, 2.5%. This is significant, since methyleugenol is genotoxic in S. cerevisiae. Basil oil  induced glutathione S-transferase activity to more than 2.5 times control level in mouse tissues. Eugenol powerfully induces glutathione S-transferase in mice and demonstrates anticarcinogenic activity. Estragole and methyleugenol are rodent carcinogens when oral exposure is sufficiently high.

Due to the absence of any human data, basil oil linalool CT has been classed here as a weak skin  sensitizer, rather than a moderate one.

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