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Not just for Mediterranean cooking, basil essential oil benefits can support your health in a variety of ways. Basil oil should be a staple in your medicine cabinet. The protective effects include antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and even bug-repelling!

Basil as a Culinary Herb

In a kitchen herb garden, basil is a staple for its delicious leaves both fresh and dried. In your local pizzeria, basil is a must for that distinctive herbed flavor. But what is basil doing when you add it to your favorite recipe?

There could be a lot more going on than you realized.

Even as a fresh-cut, or dried and powdered herb, sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a strong gastroprotective agent. A 1999 study indicated in animal models that the fixed oil (not essential oil) in basil has the ability to protect the stomach from ulcers triggered by various irritating factors. These include aspirin, alcohol, and stress. (1)

Essential oil content is, of course, part of the whole herb, and it seems that the protective effects that basil exhibits overall are concentrated with the distillation of the essential oil. More on this below. Note that holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) or tulsi is different entirely from culinary sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum). It is this Ocimum basilicum, which will be explored as we discuss basil essential oil benefits.

Some safety precautions should be noted for the internal use of basil oil. Additionally, you can use a carrier oil to dilute during topical applications. Learning safe use translates into effective use – and basil has plenty of effects to enjoy.

Some safety precautions should be noted for internal use of the oil, but safe use should translate to effective use – and basil has plenty of effects to enjoy.

Top 5 Basil Essential Oil Benefits

Here are the top uses of basil essential oil that demonstrate its protective capacity. Beyond the delicious fresh herb, the uses for basil essential oil are profound.

1. Potent Antibacterial

The problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is ever-growing, with the potential to become a major threat to public health. The search for effective solutions has been ongoing for some time now, hoping that we can maintain the ability to combat bacteria before “superbugs” become a pandemic.

While many of us believe that a paradigm shift away from the germ theory needs to take place, there are also natural products that we can use to tackle harmful bacteria without being so harsh as to quickly develop resistance to OTC antibiotics. And it appears sweet basil might be one of them.

From the conclusion of an in vitro study conducted in 2003: The chosen bacteria are widespread and pose serious therapeutic difficulties because of their high level of resistance. For this reason, the results obtained were considered encouraging. (2)

The use of antibacterial essential oils like basil oil can extend from topical healing to preventive cleansers and internal use.

Indications: Healing balms, hand sanitizers, cleaning, diluted and careful ingestion. Basil oil is a great choice to use in our homemade, sugar-free cough drops.

2. Synergetic Antifungal

The way that the compounds within a given essential oil combine to make effective structures is neat, but when two essential oils combine to be stronger than before, it is amazing. The synergy between basil and peppermint essential oil was utilized to create an effective antifungal blend instead of two, less effective compounds. (3)

Aromatherapy is often executed with blends of oils, and studies like these remind us why it’s important. As you learn about an essential oil like basil, take notes about its properties so that you can quickly reference them and see where combinations could be made.

Note the uses and actions of your favorite scents, as well; you never know when they might combine into something bigger and better!

Indications: Blends for topical healing in an athlete’s foot treatment.

3. Oral Health Guardian

As an effective antibacterial oil, basil found its way into a 2014 clinical trial of an essential oil blend for oral health mouth rinses. After three weeks of monitoring around forty participants, the results came with sparkling smiles.

Basil, combined with other oral health superstars like tea tree and clove essential oil, in a homemade mouth rinse, was able to inhibit plaque, gingivitis, and other dangerous microbes in the mouth. See more about basil essential oil (Ocicum basilicum) benefits for oral health in this study. (4)

Indications: Blends for regular mouth rinses; inclusion within DIY toothpaste formulas – See our most popular oral health remedies here.

4. Protective Digestive Support

Just as the fixed oil has gastroprotective effects, the essential oil of basil retains some, as well. In fact, when tested under the monitoring of physicians and researchers, significant doses were able to protect against colitis and ulcer damage. (5)

While we can’t necessarily replicate the study at home, we can use safety precautions to begin including basil essential oil in our recipes and formulations. Essential oils exert great effects in small doses. Including it periodically can introduce the digestive healing and protective abilities it carries without worrying so much about estragole.

Indications: Periodic culinary inclusion; specific formulation by an aromatherapist trained in internal use.

5. A Bug Repellent that Works

Basil essential oil takes protection to the next level by even keeping us safe from mosquitos. A common summertime frustration is the pervasiveness of mosquitos and bug bites; in many parts of the world, these irritating concerns of ours could be life-threatening.

Sweet basil oil compounds include many phytochemicals known to keep bugs away, and they blend well with other oils to create an effective spray. (6)

Indications: Outdoor diffusion; topical bug spray or cream. Use it in our natural mosquito-repelling spray!

Estragole Caution

There have been some documented concerns about the toxicity of one of basil’s main compounds, methyl-chavicol (otherwise known as estragole). (7) A public statement on the use of herbal medicinal products containing estragole by the European Medicines Agency states that the risks are in vulnerable populations (children, pregnant or nursing women) and with high volumes of the substance. (8)

It would, therefore, be wise to restrict internal use to a minimum and preferably with oils that have been evaluated and have lower percentages of estragole/methyl chavicol.

Recommended Blends Using Basil Essential Oil

Take advantage of basil’s protective abilities by blending it with other antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory oils. As a spicy-smelling oil, the herbaceous scent blends nicely with light and fresh-smelling oils.

  • Chamomile, lavender, and basil for healing
  • Citrus, basil, and tea tree for cleaning
  • Basil, eucalyptus, and cardamom as a bug spray
  • Carrier-oil dilutions included in culinary recipes
  • Clove, tea tree oil, and basil as a mouth rinse, with peppermint for good measure

Basil’s flexibility in blending aromas, protective effects in nearly every way, and overall safe and simple application measures make it an underrated essential oil.

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