Botanical name Ocimum basilicum
INCI Name Ocimum sanctum leaf extract
Plant/part used Whole plant
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.
Genovese organic basil seeds are the very best Italian pesto variety of basil. This is the traditional Italian Heirloom variety of basil. It has shiny, large, almond-shaped leaves have a more pronounced flavour, and stores well if chopped and frozen in ice cube trays. Pinch growing tips for bushier plants that grow to 60cm (24″) tall. Basil is a heat loving tender annual plant that requires good drainage and ample moisture during hot weather. If flowers develop, either save save the resulting seeds or separate them from the plants and sprinkle over pasta or salads. Basil flowers are highly attractive to honeybees and other wild pollinators.
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.
Long associated with death, basil was planted on graves in ancient Persia, Malaysia, and Greece. Today, the herb is still used at the altars of the Greek Orthodox churches.
Basil was introduced to Europe from India, where the leaves were often placed in the hands of the dead to ensure a safe journey to the next world. The blossoms were scattered over the tombs of ancient Egypt as it was believed that basil opened the gates of heaven.
As with all essential oils, never use them undiluted, in eyes or mucus membranes. Do not take internally unless working with a qualified and expert practitioner. Keep away from children. If applying an essential oil to your skin always perform a small patch test to an insensitive part of the body .
Bornyl acetate 0–1.1%
Quality May be adulterated with added estragole.
Hazards Potentially carcinogenic, based on estragole and methyleugenol content; may inhibit blood clotting.
Contraindications Should not be taken in oral doses.
Maximum dermal use level
Tisserand & Young 0.1%
Our safety advice
We recommend a dermal maximum of 0.1% based on 87.4% estragole and 4.2% methyleugenol content, and dermal limits of 0.12% for estragole and 0.02% for methyleugenol.
The Commission E Monograph for basil oil includes the following: ‘Due to the high estragole content, basil oil preparations should not be used during pregnancy, nursing, by infants and small children, or over extended periods of time’. IFRA recommends a maximum dermal use level for estragole of 0.01% in leave-on or wash-off preparations for body and face. IFRA also recommends a maximum concentration of 0.0004% of methyleugenol for leave-on products such as body lotion. The equivalent SCCNFP maximum for methyleugenol is 0.0002%.
Adverse skin reactions Undiluted basil oil was mildly irritating to mice; tested at 4% on 25 volunteers it was neither irritating nor sensitizing. It is non-phototoxic. A 65-year-old aromatherapist with multiple essential oil sensitivities reacted to both 1% and 5% basil oil.
Cardiovascular effects Estragole inhibits platelet aggregation, an essential step in the blood clotting cascade.
Acute toxicity Basil oil (estragole CT) acute oral LD50 in rats 1.4 mL/kg; acute dermal LD50 in rabbits >5 mL/kg.
Carcinogenic/anticarcinogenic potential A basil oil consisting of 88.2% estragole showed a very similar degree of genotoxicity to estragole in a rat liver DNA repair test. Basil oil showed moderate chemopreventive activity against human mouth epidermal carcinoma cells and significant activity against mouse leukemia cells, with respective IC50 values of 303 and 36 mg/mL. Estragole and methyleugenol are rodent carcinogens when oral exposure is sufficiently high.
The Mu¨ller et al data show that the other constituents of basil oil have no effect on the genotoxicity of the estragole in the oil.