Native of Africa and the Seychelles and now grown as a popular culinary
herb in Europe. Basil is used in baths and body massage by ancient Greek
nobles for its fragrant perfume. The Egyptians used the Aromatic fragrance
in their offerings to the gods and also mixed it with essences of myrrh and
incense to embalm bodies. In India it is believed to offer protection to the
soul and is sacred to the Hindu gods, Krishna and Vishnu.
It can grow up to 3 feet in height and has small white flowers. The essence
is distilled from the leaves and is light greenish yellow with sweet green
overtones. The crisp smelling of this essential oil is often used in
aromatherapy as it awakens the mind to clarity of thought, steadies the
nerves. The basil oil has sweet, herbaceous, licorice-like and slightly
flowing transparent liquid
Specific spicy, strong, pleasant and fresh,
slightly balsamic with a tarragon note.
Light yellow to yellow-green
Basil oil has various chemical compounds that include a-pinene, camphene,
b-pinene, myrcene, limonene, cis-ocimene, camphor, linalool, methyl
chavicol, y-terpineol, citronellol, bornylacetate , geraniol, methyl
cinnamate and eugenol.
It is extracted by steam distillation of
Ideal as a nerve tonic, helpful to lift fatigue, anxiety and depression. It
is also good for bronchitis, colds, fever, gout and indigestion and reputed
to soothe snake bites. The therapeutic properties of basil oil are
analgesic, antidepressant, antispasmodic, anti-venomous, carminative,
cephalic, diaphoretic, digestive, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge,
insecticide, nervine, stomachic, sudorific, tonic and stimulant.
It also acts as a powerful antiseptic and mostly used for inhalation,
baths, massages. Basil essential oil is used typically to massage the skin.
It enhances the luster of dull looking skin as well as hair. As a result it
is extensively used in many skin care supplements that claim to improve the
tone of skin. It is also used for acne and skin infections. It is both
soothing and uplifting when diluted in a base oil and used for massage. It
has the effect of relieving gloom and fatigue.
Fresh, sweet, floral, herbaceous,
Lavender essential oil is used as an antiseptic and can be used for many
skin conditions and infections of the lungs, digestions and urinary tract.
It works brilliantly for migraine. It is also considered to be helpful for
nervous system disorders such as depression, headache, hypertension,
insomnia, migraine, nervous tension, stress related conditions.
Basil is most commonly recommended to be used fresh, and in cooked recipes,
is generally added at the last moment, as cooking destroys the flavor
quickly. The fresh herb can be kept for a short time in plastic bags in the
refrigerator, or for a longer period in the freezer, after being blanched
quickly in boiling water. Basil is sometimes used with fresh fruit and in
fruit jams and sauces - in particular with strawberries, but also
raspberries or dark-colored plums. Arguably the flat-leaf basil used in
Vietnamese cooking, which has a slightly different flavor, is more suitable
for use with fruit.
There are two types of basil, sweet and bush. Sweet basil has large, shiny,
dark green leaves and grows 30-60 cm/1-2 ft high, with white flowers. Bush
basil is very bushy and grows to be only 15 cm/6 in high, with lots of green
leaves and tiny white flowers. Basil is an aromatic plant, originating in
India, whose name is derived from Greek basilisks, meaning royal: only the
sovereign (Basilius) was allowed to cut it.
Sweet basil is now widely grown as a pot herb. The leaves, which have a
strong flavor of lemon and jasmine, are much used for flavoring in the
cuisines of southern France and Italy. Some of the aroma is lost in drying,
but the leaves can be successfully preserved in olive oil. Basil is
particularly favored with tomatoes, but can also be used to flavor salads,
stuffings, sauces and omelette's as well as soups (pistou) and pasta dishes.