Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) originates in the Mediterranean Sea and Middle East. [1] It is a
popular culinary herb, and its essential oils have been used extensively for many years in
food products, perfumery, and dental and oral products. [14]

What are the health benefits of basil leaves and oils?


The fixed oil of Ocimum sanctum L. (Labiatae) was found to possess significant antiulcer
activity against aspirin-, indomethacin-, alcohol-, histamine-, reserpine-, serotonin- and
stress-induced ulceration in experimental animal models. Significant inhibition was also
observed in gastric secretion and aspirin-induced gastric ulceration in pylorus ligated rats.
O. sanctum fixed oil may be considered to be a drug of natural origin which possesses both
anti-inflammatory and antiulcer activity. [17]

Basil essential oils and their principal constituents were found to exhibit antimicrobial
activity against a wide range of Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, yeast, fungi
and mold. [9,14-16] It may also help relieve intestinal gas. [10] The major active
ingredients of basil essential oil are terpenoids, such as eugenol, thymol and estragole.
These ingredients contribute the potential health benefits of basil.

Its seeds are thought to benefit people with constipation or diarrhea. Researchers believe
that its seed may prevent sugar absorption by providing dietary fiber and relive
constipation by acting as a bulk-forming laxative. [7-8]

Basil leaf extract was very effective in elevating antioxidant enzyme response by increasing
significantly the hepatic glutathione reductase, superoxide dismutase, and catalase
activities. . Chemo-preventive response was evident from the reduced tumor burden (the
average number of papillomas/mouse), as well as from the reduced percentage of tumor
bearing-animals. [13]

Experimental studies on albino rats reported that leaf extract of Ocimum sanctum and
Ocimum album (holy basil) had hypoglycemic effect. While human study also showed a
significant decrease in fasting and postprandial blood glucose levels during treatment with
holy basil leaves compared to during treatment with placebo leaves. Thus, basil may
benefit people suffered from type 2 diabetes. [4-6, 18]

In a study of rats, oral administration of aqueous extracts of Ocimum basilicum L inhibited
platelet aggregation induced by thrombin and ADP in a dose-dependent fashion. [11]

Researchers from India noted that solvents extracts of holy basil (Ocimum sanctum Linn)
were effective in preventing tonic convulsions induced by transcorneal electroshock. [12]

One of its ingredient, estragole, is believed to be carcinogenic. [12] However, it may not be
a concern to use basil as a seasoning in food.

Reference Grieve M. A Modern Herbal vol 1. New York: Hafner, 1967:86. 2. Nadkarni AK, Nadkarni KM. Indian Materia Medica vol 1.
Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1976:861–7. 3. Farnsworth NR, Bunyapraphatsara N (eds). Thai Medicinal Plants. Bangkok: Medicinal Plant
Information Center, 1992:180–2.  4. Viseshakul D, Premvatana P, Chularojmontri V, et al. Improved glucose tolerance induced by long term
dietary supplementation with hairy basal seeds (Ocimum canum Sim) in diabetics. J Med Assoc Thai 1985;68:408–11. 5. Agrawal P, Rai V,
Singh RB. Randomized placebo-controlled, single blind trial of holy basil leaves in patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Int J
Clin Pharmacol Ther 1996;34:406–9. 6. Rai V, Mani UV, Iyer UM. Effect of Ocimum sanctum leaf powder on blood lipoproteins, glycated
protein and total amino acids in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. J Nutr Environ Med 1997;7:113–8. 7. Kocharatana P,
et al. Clinical trial of maeng-lak seeds used as a bulk laxative. Maharaj Nakornratchasima Hosp Med Bull 1985;9:120–36. 8. Muangman V,
Siripraiwan S, Ratanaolarn K, et al. A clinical trial of Ocimum canum Sims seeds as a bulk laxative in elderly post-operative patients.
Ramathibodi Med J 1985;8:154–8. 9. Farnsworth NR, Bunyapraphatsara N (eds). Thai Medicinal Plants. Bangkok: Medicinal Plant
Information Center, 1992:180–2. 10. Farnsworth NR, Bunyapraphatsara N (eds). Thai Medicinal Plants. Bangkok: Medicinal Plant
Information Center, 1992:180–2. 11. Valnet J. The Practice of Aromatherapy. New York: Destiny Books, trans. Campbell R, Houston L, 1982:
97–8. 12. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A (eds). American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca
Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997:143–5. [11] Tohti I, Tursun M, Umar A, Turdi S, Imin H, Moore N. Aqueous extracts of Ocimum basilicum L.
(sweet basil) decrease platelet aggregation induced by ADP and thrombin in vitro and rats arterio-venous shunt thrombosis in vivo. Thromb
Res. 2006 Feb 7; [12] Jaggi RK, Madaan R, Singh B. Anticonvulsant potential of holy basil, Ocimum sanctum Linn., and its cultures. Indian J
Exp Biol. 2003 Nov;41(11):1329-33. [13] Dasgupta T, Rao AR, Yadava PK.Chemomodulatory efficacy of basil leaf (Ocimum basilicum) on
drug metabolizing and antioxidant enzymes, and on carcinogen-induced skin and forestomach papillomagenesis. Phytomedicine. 2004 Feb;11
(2-3):139-51. [14] Suppakul P, Miltz J, Sonneveld K, Bigger SW.Antimicrobial properties of basil and its possible application in food
packaging. J Agric Food Chem. 2003 May 21;51(11):3197-207. [15] Edris AE, Farrag ES. Antifungal activity of peppermint and sweet basil
essential oils and their major aroma constituents on some plant pathogenic fungi from the vapor phase. Nahrung. 2003 Apr;47(2):117-21.
[16] Lachowicz KJ, Jones GP, Briggs DR, Bienvenu FE, Wan J, Wilcock A, Coventry MJ. The synergistic preservative effects of the essential
oils of sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) against acid-tolerant food microflora. Lett Appl Microbiol. 1998 Mar;26(3):209-14. [17] Singh S,
Majumdar DK.Evaluation of the gastric antiulcer activity of fixed oil of Ocimum sanctum (Holy Basil). J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Apr;65(1):13-9.
[18] Agrawal P, Rai V, Singh RB. Randomized placebo-controlled, single blind trial of holy basil leaves in patients with noninsulin-dependent
diabetes mellitus. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1996 Sep;34(9):406-9.
Discuss with your doctor before taking any alternative medicine. This article is for
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