Basil is a fragrant herb in the mint family (Lamiaceae) whose leaves are typically used as a garnish. Fresh basil leaves are also commonly ground to make pesto. Food historians believe basil came from India. Today, the herb is also cultivated in several Asian and Mediterranean countries, as well as in the United States.
Basil comes in many varieties, but the most popular types include:
Beyond adding aroma and flavor to dishes, basil also supports optimal overall health. The herb contains plenty of active compounds with beneficial properties, like eugenol and estragole. Basil essential oil contains high concentrations of these compounds, allowing it to relieve certain health problems and ward off others.
For instance, basil essential oil can provide relief from colds and the flu. Due to its antispasmodic effect, the oil is also frequently used to relieve whooping cough, as well as symptoms of asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory conditions.
Basil essential oil is also used as a digestive tonic due to its carminative properties. It can alleviate constipation and stomach cramps, as well as flatulence. It can also be used to alleviate bowel pain.
Additionally, basil essential oil has been found to be effective against many harmful bacteria, including:
Basil essential oil is also widely used in aromatherapy to relieve mental fatigue, headaches and depression because of its calming nature. Regularly using basil essential oil may also provide clarity and mental strength. It may also improve blood circulation when inhaled.
Like most essential oils, basil essential oil can either be inhaled or applied topically. Since essential oils are highly concentrated, you only need to use a few drops at a time to enjoy their benefits.
If you want to go the inhalation route, you can either open your bottle of basil essential oil and inhale deeply or add a few drops of the oil to a diffuser and inhale the vapor. You can also do steam inhalation, which involves adding a few drops of essential oil to a bowl of hot water. Place a towel over your head and lean over the bowl, putting your face as close to the water as you can stand. Close your eyes and inhale deeply.
Basil essential oil can also be diluted in a carrier oil, such as olive oil and jojoba oil, and applied topically. Most essential oils are too strong to apply directly to the skin and may cause skin irritation, so it's important to dilute them first. (Related: Essential oils for good health: How to use them and when to avoid them.)
PlantMedicine.news has more articles about plants and herbs with medicinal uses.