Most people are familiar with basil as a herb. It adds flavor and fragrance to a host of dishes. It is synonymous with Italian cooking as the key ingredient in soups and pesto. It is also used in Spanish and French cooking. The basil plant originated for South East Asia and it is also common in cooking in many countries around that region. You will find basil leaves used in Thai and Vietnamese dishes for instance. Despite the widespread use in food it is not commonly known that it makes a particularly useful essential oil that can treat a range of ailments and illnesses through aromatherapy. This article will discuss basil essential oil and how it can help prevent and treat illnesses.
Basil essential oil has a long tradition as a healer of illnesses. It has and is used in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine. In China it is used to treat stomach and kidney complaints. In India it is used for cough, colds and flu.
For aromatherapy purposes, the essential oil is created by steam distillation of the flowering herb. It produces a light colorless oil that has a sweet scent. It consists of linalol, methyl chavicol, eugenol, limonene and citronellol. It can be used for a number of problems.
Basil essential oil is good for many kinds of nervous conditions. These range from headaches and migraines, insomnia and depression and anxiety. The oil is good for relieving general stress and tension. It is considered to be non-toxic so can be applied as a massage oil to provide a relaxing massage. It can also be added to a hot bath. In cases like migraines and headaches it can be made into a compress and applied to the area affected by the pain. It can also be inhaled as part of a vapor with hot water. It is ideal for changing the mood of the person and helping them to relax.
Basil essential oil also has anti inflammatory properties. The substance eugenol is thought to block the enzyme cyclooxygenase which causes inflammation and pain. This means you can apply the oil to areas of the body affected by rheumatoid arthritis, gout and other aches and pains. In this case it is most effective by massaging into the affected area but a bath with the oil in it can also provide relief.
It is thought to be useful against bacterial and infectious diseases and can be inhales as part of a hot water vapor. It will inhibit the growth of various bacteria, such as staphylococcus enterococcus, pseudomonas and also e.coli bacteria.
Basil essential oil can also treat common skin irritations. It is often used as an insect repellent when rubbed on the body. It can also be used to sooth insect bites and inflammed areas of the skin by rubbing it into the affected area.
Remember to use it in your food too. It is packed with vitamins and minerals that can help your body fight disease and stay healthy. Notably it has vitamins A and C and minerals iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium. The best way to eat basil is fresh in salads or added fresh into cooked meals. You can also get bottles of minced basil or dry basil. These will have less of the vitamins and minerals than the fresh variety.