Basil and all its varieties is a strongly aromatic herb and is often referred to as the king of therapeutic herbs. Its name is a Greek derivative of the word "Basilicum" or King/royal. Most of basil’s variants are found growing across France, Cypress, Iran, India, and tropical Asia though a few are also found in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Five species or variants of basil out of the known 50-odd species are particularly popular for their curative properties and culinary usages:
• Ocimum Basilicum - sweet basil
• Ocimum Citriodorum – lemon basil
• Ocimum Tenuiflorum – holy basil
• Ocimum Thyrsiflora – Thai basil
• Ocimum kilimandscharicum × basilicum "Dark Opal" - African blue basil
(Source: Simon, J.E., J. Quinn, and R.G. Murray (1990). "Basil: A source of essential oils". In J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.). Advances in new crops. Timber Press, Portland, OR.. pp. 484–489)
Steam distillation is the popular method of extracting oil from basil. Because of its strong spicy/sweet/fresh aroma, very light nature and its property of evaporating quickly, it is categorized as a top note oil.
Basil oil is fast-acting in nature. It takes 20 minutes for it to be absorbed by human blood and affects the person on whom it has been used for 24 hours. It contains volatile chemical compounds such as cineole, alpha-terpineol, ß-pinene, camphene, camphor, cis-ocimene, eugenol, geraniol, limonene, methyl chavicol, methyl cinnamate, myrcene, terpinolene and y-terpineol. (Source: Cornell University, Department of Animal Science. URL: http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/medicinal/basil.html)
Some uses of Basil Oil have been highlighted below:
1. Basil oil is used for uplifting or stimulating purposes especially where a person shows a lack of interest in daily activities or exhibits signs of mental exhaustion and depression. Basil oil may stimulate clarity of thought and is believed to enhance mental strength.
2. Conventional cures for colds and flu are supported greatly by basil oil’s property which can stub coughs as well as fever.