(Ocimum basilicum)

Basil or sweet basil originally comes from the middle east and mediterranean regions. It is grown throughout the world as a culinary herb. Three important relatives with similar properties are Ocimum canum (hairy basil), O. gratissimum (basil), and O. sanctum (holy basil).

Basil has been a culinary herb in Europe and Central Asia since ancient times. In India the seeds were used for diarrhoea, mucous discharges, constipation, and as a general demulcent (soothes mucous membranes); the leaves were used for indigestion and skin diseases. In traditional Thai herbalism, the plant is used for coughs, skin diseases, and intestinal problems. The seed is used as a bulk-forming laxative and diuretic.

What it does

Basil leaf contains a potent volatile oil which consists of several terpenoids, thymol, estragole and eugenol. It is also a rich source of Vitamin C and other variable nutrients. the herb is said to be antispasmodic, carminative, mildly sedative, mildly diuretic, antibacterial, antiviral, anti fungal, anti-depressant and an adrenal stimulant. The fibre of the seeds act as a laxative.

Potential Uses

Constipation Diarrhoea Flatulence
Indigestion Nausea Anxiety
Skin disorders Stomach cramp

Other information

Some research into the effects of the leaf and seed of Holy Basil and Hairy Basil on blood sugar levels in non-insulin dependant diabetics showed a positive result. In some cultures basil tea is taken by nursing mothers to increase the flow of breast milk.


Avoid in pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding.

Basil aromatherapy oil is contra-indicated in pregnancy.

Avoid the use of potent preparations of basil if you have liver or kidney problems. Culinary use is safe.

Generally, there are no side effects or contra-indications from using basil.

At the time of writing there were no well known negative drug interactions with basil.

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