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Exotic basil (Ocimum basilicum var. basilicum)

Exotic basil

Ocimum basilicum var. basilicum

Exotic basil (Ocimum basilicum var. basilicum) is an annual plant of the Lamiacea family native to Asia.

 There are more than a hundred varieties of basil, including "camphor basil" and "holy basil". All species are highly fragrant. Thirty to fifty centimetres high, exotic basil has branching and hairy square stem that often becomes woody. The dark green leaves are small, oval and lanceolate. The white or pinkish flower spikes are grouped along the stems and appear in summer. The seeds are black, fine and oblong. The name basil is derived from the Greek basileus (king) and indicates its royal plant quality.


Main aromatic molecules: Phenol methyl ether, mainly methylchavicol or estragole.
Family: Lamiaceae.
Producing organs: Aerial parts.
Yield: 100g of essential oil per 100kg of plants.
Equivalence: 1 ml → 29 drops (dosage calculated for a calibrated dropper European Pharmacopoeia).

  • Bath Bath
  • Skin application Skin application
  • Oral route Oral route

Main properties

Essential oil of basil is a powerful antispasmodic: it is very effective against menstrual pain. It is also a nervous system regulator. It treats all depression and fatigue conditions as well as spasmophilia. On a digestive level, it soothes spasms (hiccough) and gastric or enteric pains.

Find all the virtues and uses of essential oils in our tips section.


Pour A drop of basil essential oil and 2 drops of green mandarin oil on a handkerchief and breathe for 10 minutes at bedtime. Recipe for adults only.

Digestion and aerophagia
For adult use, mix 1 drop of basil essential oil and 1 drop of peppermint essential oil in 10 drops of sweet almond vegetable oil. Massage the stomach with this mixture twice a day, in case of digestive disorders. Recipe for adults only.

Painful periods
Massage the lower abdomen with 2 drops of basil essential oil diluted in a little macadamia vegetable oil, repeat if necessary. Recipe for adults only.


Exotic basil is cultivated in Madagascar; in its different species, it thrives all throughout the Mediterranean basin where it is included in many recipes. In France, it becomes "sauce basil" and in the South "pistou" from the Niçois verb meaning "pound", because it is pounded in a mortar to turn it into a paste used in cooking. In Sub Saharan Africa it is given to children as a vermifuge or used against migraines.


Exotic basil has a herbaceous and fresh odour with an anise note not found in "common basil" used traditionally for cooking.


Essential oil of Ocimum basilicum is obtained by steam distillation of the leaves and flowers. The yield of the order of 0.1%, is of one hundred grams of essential oil per one hundred kilograms of plant.


Essential oil of basil contains monoterpenes, monoterpenols, sesquiterpenes, oxides and ketones, among others, however its essential component is a phenol-methylether, methyl-chavicol or estragol (approximately 80% to 90%).

Precautions for use

Please respect the doses because in excess essential oil of basil can induce stupor. It must always be used diluted on the skin. For cooking, one or two drops of essential oil are enough to perfume a dish for five to six persons.

Do not use in: pregnant or breast-feeding women, children under the age of twelve years, persons whose professional activity requires vigilance, persons allergic to one of the components (linalool, geranial or neral), persons with asthma without the advice of an allergologist before the first use.


Camphor basil (Ocimum canum camphoriferum), Eugenol-containing holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum eugenoliferum), lettuce leaf basil, Genovese basil, small-leaf basil.

It suffered from homonymy in Antiquity. Pliny who recommended it against epilepsy, confused it with the fabulous serpent, basilisk, and stated that if one placed pieces of the plant under a stone exposed to the sun this formidable reptile will eventually come out. He assigned to basil numerous properties and aphrodisiac qualities: "it is for this reason that it is introduced in the vulva of jennies at mating time". Basil is always presented as an ornamental and medicinal plant in the West. The Italian Mattioli, physician and botanist, observed in the 16th century: "There are few gardens or windows which are not covered with basil in wooden crates or terracotta pots. "In India, where mysticism goes hand in hand with gastronomy, the plant is dedicated to the wife of Vishnu and has a religious status.


Extracts from the book 'Aromatherapia - All about essential oils', by Isabelle Pacchioni, watercolors by Patrick MORIN, Aroma Thera Editions . Extracts from the book '41 essential oils essential for treating yourself differently' and '48 essential oils which every home needs to be healthy' by Isabelle Delaleu and Isabelle Pacchioni, Publications of the Mandadori France group. Botanical illustrations by Agathe Haevermans.

The properties, benefits and method of use are given for information; they cannot in any case constitute or replace medical information that only health professionals can provide. For any use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes, please consult your GP or pharmacist.
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