Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ocimum basilicum L.

Family : Lamiaceae

Synonym(s) : Ocimum anisatum; Basilicum citratum.

English Name : Sweet. French or Common Basil; Oil of Basil

Origin : Africa, Middle-east, and Asia


This is a hairy, labiate plant, growing about 3 feet high. The stem is obtusely quadrangular, the labiate flowers are white, in whorls in the axils of the leaves, the calyx with the upper lobe rounded and spreading. The leaves, greyish-green beneath and dotted with dark oil cells, are opposite, 1 inch long and 1/3 inch broad, stalked and peculiarly smooth, soft and cool to the touch. Flowers borne in more or less closely set whorls in spicate racemes up to 20 cm long; bracts stalked, shorter than the calyx, ovate, acute; calyx 5 mm long, enlarging in fruit, lower lip with the 2 central teeth longer than the rounded upper lip; corolla 8 to 13 mm long, white, pink or purplish Fruits (nutlets) 2 mm long, narrowly ellipsoid, black, pitted, mucilaginous when wet.


Forests and fields; Punjab other parts of India as well as other parts of the world.

Parts Used : Seed, flower, leaf, plant and its essential oil and bark

Herb Effects

Improves digestion, stimulates the flow of bile and alleviates spasms (related to digestion); antifungal (essential oil); antibacterial (essential oil, alcohol extract of leaf and flower, aqueous flower extract); carminative (flower and plant); anthelminthic.

Active Ingredients

1,8-cineole, anethole, apigenin, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, beta-sitosterol, caffeic acid, cineole, citronellol, eugenol, geranial, kaempferol, limonene, luteolin, methylchavicol, ocimene, quercetin, rosmarinic acid, rutin, thymol, ursolic acid, estragole and alpha-terpineol (essential oil).

Medicinal Use

Sweet basil acts principally on the digestive and nervous systems, easing flatulence, stomach cramps, colic and indigestion. It is taken internally in the treatment of feverish illnesses, poor digestion, nausea, abdominal cramps, gastro-enteritis, migraine, insomnia, depression and exhaustion. Externally, they are used to treat acne, loss of smell, insect stings, snake bites and skin infections. The mucilaginous seed is given in infusion in the treatment of gonorrhoea, dysentery and chronic diarrhoea. It is remove film and opacity from the eyes also. The root is used in the treatment of bowel complaints in children. Extracts from the plant are bactericidal and are also effective against internal parasites.


Infusion of 1 tsp of crumbled drug (leafy stems)/cup boiling water consumed slowly. 2 to 3 times per day after or between meals.
Tincture: 0.5–1 tsp up to 3 times per day.


Pregnant women should avoid therapeutic doses, Can cause buildup of toxic substances (including mercury) if used long-term; estragole is a known hepatocarcinogen in animals. Used in moderation, It may irritate people with sensitive skin.


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