Basil essential oil contains a number of compounds thought to enhance health. These compounds include linalool, a substance shown to reduce stress in several scientific studies.
How Does It Work?
In aromatherapy, inhaling the aroma of basil essential oil (or absorbing basil essential oil through the skin) is thought to transmit messages to a brain region involved in controlling emotions. Known as the limbic system, this brain region also influences the nervous system. Aromatherapy proponents suggest that essential oils may affect a number of biological factors, including heart rate, stress levels, blood pressure, breathing, and immune function.
In alternative medicine, basil essential oil is typically used for the following health problems:
In addition, basil essential oil is said to enhance mood, improve digestion, increase alertness, and soothe muscle aches.
Basil essential oil is also sometimes used as an insect repellent.
While preliminary research suggests that basil essential oil may offer certain health benefits, there is currently a lack of research testing the health effects of aromatherapeutic use of geranium essential oil. For example, several laboratory studies published in the past decade indicate that basil essential oil may possess anti-cancer, anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties.
In addition, a study published in the journal Biomedica suggests that basil essential oil may aid in the treatment of acne. For the study, 28 people with acne were assigned to eight weeks of treatment with one of four formulations: a blend of orange and basil essential oils, keratolytic medication (a type of medicine designed to remove lesions from the skin), essential oils mixed with acetic acid (a compound sometimes used as an ingredient in skincare products), or keratolytic medication with acetic acid. By the study’s end, all groups showed improvements in acne. The greatest improvements were seen in patients treated with the acetic acid mixtures.
It’s important to note that none of these studies tested the aromatherapeutic use of basil essential oil and that more research is needed before basil essential oil can be recommended in treatment of any health condition.
How to Use It
Basil essential oil also can be inhaled after sprinkling a few drops of the oil onto a cloth or tissue or through use of an aromatherapy diffuser or vaporizer.
Basil essential oil should not be taken internally without the supervision of a health professional. Internal use of basil essential oil may have toxic effects.
In addition, some individuals may experience irritation when applying sandalwood essential oil to the skin. A skin patch test should be done before using any new essential oil.
The oil should not be applied at full-strength to the skin or used in excessive amounts.
Pregnant women and children should consult their primary health care providers prior to using essential oils.
A number of essential oils may possess health effects similar to the purported benefits of basil essential oil. For example, lavender essential oil, bergamot essential oil, and rose essential oil have all been found to promote relaxation in scientific studies.
Where to Find It
Widely available for purchase online, basil essential oil is sold in many natural-foods stores and in stores specializing in self-care products.
Using It for Health
Due to the limited research, it’s too soon to recommend basil essential oil as a treatment for any condition. It’s also important to note that self-treating a chronic condition with basil essential oil and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you’re considering using basil essential oil for any health purpose, make sure to consult your physician first.