Basil Essential Oil: Top 13 Health Benefits and Uses

Basil brings to mind Italian food and fragrant garnishes, but basil is useful for so much more than cooking! Basil essential oil, which can also sometimes be referred to as sweet basil oil, has been used since ancient times to treat all kinds of health issues. We’re going to show you why basil essential oil deserves a spot in your essential oil collection!

We’re going to cover the origins and history of this fantastic oil. Then we will share some of the most popular and scientifically-backed uses for basil essential oil.

Lastly, we will share a basil oil recipe that you can make at home! We’ll wrap up by answering some frequently asked questions about basil essential oil.

Read on to learn what basil essential oil can do for you!

The Origins and History of Basil Essential Oil

Long ago, basil originated from India. The plant was considered to be holy to practitioners of Hindu. Basil was believed to be an incarnation of the god Vishnu’s wife Lakshmi, who was the goddess of fortune and beauty. Women would wear basil in their hair to attract potential suitors using the influence of the goddess Lakshmi. 

It was considered to be a sacred herb in ancient India. Individuals chewed the leaves before religious ceremonies. Basil was additionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to assist with various skin conditions as well as indigestion and coughs.

In the 16th century and middle ages, basil was prescribed for chest infections, migraines, and even to treat melancholy. The Ancient Romans also got ahold of basil, using it to stimulate breast milk production and even counteract the effects of poison! Jewish culture even historically used basil in times of fasting because it was said to provide strength during the fast.

The scientific name for the basil plant is Ocimum basilicum, which is derived from the Greek word basilicas which means “king” or “royal,” which is another nod to its sacred heritage.

Today, we see basil in use for treating stomach spasms, loss of appetite, fluid retention, head colds, warts, and even intestinal worm infections! Basil essential oil is naturally anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibiotic, and diuretic as well.

We’ll go into more detail on these modern uses of basil essential oil below!

Benefits of Basil Essential Oil

Sweet basil or Ocimum basilicum L. Belongs to the Lamiaceae plant family, which is the mint family of plants. The mint family includes around 200 species of various basil varietals that are grown all around the world. Basil has been known to be used both internally and externally, and many enjoy its naturally sweet, warm, spicy, and herbal notes.

Some commonly noted benefits of basil essential oil include:

  • Fighting bacteria
  • Preventing infection
  • Reducing inflammation that can cause disease
  • Fighting viruses
  • Relieving congestion
  • Increasing urine output
  • Fighting free radical damage
  • Stimulation of the nervous system
  • Stimulation of the adrenal cortex

While not all of these claims have strong scientific research backing them, they are generally observed benefits of this essential oil. 

Basil essential oil was previously used as a part of traditional medicine for the treatment of headaches, coughs, diarrhea, constipation, warts, worms, kidney malfunctions, and even more. Likely because of its scientifically proven antibacterial and anti-fungal effects. In addition, this is also probably part of the reason why basil is used in foods, beverages, oral health products, and fragrances.

Modern Uses for Basil Essential Oil

So we have established that basil essential oil has many incredible benefits. Now let’s get to those practical uses for basil essential oil! Basil essential oil can do so many amazing things in our day-to-day lives from stimulating the nervous system to fixing minor skin problems. There are plenty of ways to incorporate basil essential oil into your routine internally, externally, or even around your home! Here are some of the most common uses for basil essential oil.

May Soothe the Digestive System

Basil essential oil has been used to relieve digestive issues like constipation and act as a stimulant to the digestive system, but there is no concrete evidence on this. Some claim that a few drops of basil essential oil mixed with a carrier oil and massaged into the stomach can relieve constipation. Others recommend adding one or two drops to a mug of tea or warm water to speed digestion. High-quality basil essential oil is safe for ingestion, so even though the science isn’t there to support it yet, you can still give it a try.

May Stimulate the Nervous System

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Stimulating the nervous system is another use for basil essential oil that has more observed evidence than scientific evidence. Individuals who are dealing with mental and emotional exhaustion can allegedly use basil essential oil to regain energy and focus. It is recommended to take a few drops of basil essential oil into the palm of your hand and then rub them together vigorously. Inhaling this scent is said to help stimulate the nervous system to regain energy.

May Assist in Relieving Muscular Soreness

Other websites that cite basil as a muscle relaxant provide links to sources that make no mention of basil essential oil relieving muscle soreness. Furthermore, there is little to no proven scientific evidence linking basil essential oil to being a muscle relaxant. This isn’t to say that basil essential oil can’t provide relief to sore muscles, but to provide factual information about this essential oil we think this is necessary to note. Giving it a try won’t do you any harm, though! Most individuals tolerate basil essential oil thoroughly. You can try a few drops of basil essential oil in a warm bath to test out its muscle relaxant properties. 

May Relieve Stress

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As with many aromatherapeutic benefits of essential oils, there is not a lot of scientific research available regarding basil essential oil’s ability to reduce stress in aromatherapy. You can still give it a try and see how it works for you, as many sources say that they feel stress relief from smelling this essential oil. You can place a few drops of the basil essential oil in your palm and hold it over your nose to reap the potential benefits of this essential oil.

May Help Treat Acne

This use for basil essential oil has some scientific basis! In one study, a blend of basil and orange essential oils was applied to an area of skin affected by acne and all of the individuals in the study saw some level of improvement. To give this a try, you can mix a drop or two of basil essential oil with a non-comedogenic carrier oil or witch hazel, and use a cotton ball to apply it to the affected area.

May Help with Insect Bites and Other Minor Skin Irritations 

Another application for basil essential oil on the skin is for alleviating insect bite irritation and other small skin irritation. There is an extensive research study that lays out all of the potential uses for basil essential oil in regards to skin irritation. Generally, basil essential oil has a healing effect on the skin and can help with a variety of irritations that include insect bites. To use basil essential oil on your skin, mix it with your choice of carrier oil and apply it to the affected areas.

May Help Alleviate Pain

Senior With Back Pain, Grabbing His Back

There is not a lot of research available to support this claim, but basil essential oil was used historically as an analgesic. This means that it can also be used to relieve pain in modern times. Some sources claim that it offers relief from the pain of minor sprains, burns, scrapes, or bruises, but caution against using it on an open wound. To give this a shot yourself, mix basil essential oil with your carrier oil of choice and apply it to the affected area for relief.

May Reduce Headache Pain

Some sources also claim that inhaling the scent of basil essential oil can assist with headache pain as well as migraines. You can combine a few drops of basil essential oil with a carrier oil and massage it into your temples, neck, or chest. You could also diffuse it or inhale it directly from the bottle.

May Help Boost your Hair

Blonde Female Walking Along Nature And Green Leaves

Some sources claim that adding basil essential oil to your shower routine can result in shinier and less greasy hair. You can either add a drop or two of basil essential oil to your shampoo or make your own hair-degreasing super goop by combining baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and basil essential oil and massaging it into your scalp before shampooing. This is said to balance pH and remove grease and residue from your scalp. There is no scientific backing to be found for these claims, but basil essential oil is typically well-received by most individuals.

Less Common Uses of Basil Essential Oil

Here are some of the less common uses of basil essential oil. You can genuinely use basil essential oil daily with a variety of purposes that it has to offer! 

Homemade Toothpaste and Mouthwash

The antibacterial and anti-fungal benefits of basil essential oil can be leveraged as a homemade toothpaste and/or mouthwash! You can add several drops of basil essential oil to your mouthwash or toothpaste to get the added punch of antibacterial properties from basil essential oil. There are also many homemade toothpaste and mouthwash recipes out there for you to choose from to integrate basil essential oil.

Wash Produce and Clean Surfaces

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Some of the same antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties that make basil essential oil effective at preventing infections also may help kill harmful germs that are present on produce and surfaces. You can easily use basil essential oil on produce by adding several drops to a spray bottle and filling the rest with water and spraying it over the pro

You can also use this solution to clean kitchen surfaces as a more natural alternative to traditional cleaning products.

Freshen Air

Basil essential oil smells sweet, spicy, and warm, but it also can help fight harmful germs that might be floating around in the air. Diffuse basil essential oil at home or work to spread around this healing essential oil and purify the air in your space. This practice might even reduce your chances of getting sick.

Repel Insects

Just like essential oils citronella and thyme, scientific research stands behind basil essential oil as an oil that can repel bugs and also prevent bug bites. You can diffuse a combination of these oils in a buggy space or mix a few drops of each with a carrier oil and spread it on your body before an outdoor activity.

Fresh Basil Versus Basil Oil

Fresh basil leaves are a great way to flavor recipes and absorb some of the benefits that basil has to offer. It is important to remember that basil essential oil is much more concentrated and potent than its leaves. Fresh basil leaves, stems, and flowers are steam distilled to procure an extract that has high levels of antioxidants and other beneficial phytochemicals.

Chemical Compostion

The three primary categories of these compounds are oxygenated monoterpenes, sesquiterpene hydrocarbons, and oxygenated sesquiterpenes. Oxygenated monoterpenes account for 60.7- 68.9 percent of the compounds and are a type of chemical compound that is responsible for some of the antibacterial activities of essential oils. Sesquiterpene hydrocarbons account for 16.0-24.3 percent of the compounds and function as antioxidants. Oxygenated sesquiterpenes can also be responsible for the antioxidant activities of basil essential oil and account for 12.0-14.4 percent of the basil essential oil.

The range in percentage happens because the chemical composition of basil changes depending on the season and so does the essential oil.

Sweet Basil Versus Holy Basil

Most essential oils that you see that are labeled basil essential oil will use sweet basil. Holy basil is a different type of basil. This type of basil does not have the same chemical composition as regular basil and may produce different results. Holy basil is still known to be antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and energizing. Be sure you are familiar with all of its properties before putting it to use for the purposes we will list in this article.

Our Favorite Basil Essential Oils

There are several brands to choose from when it comes to basil essential oil because this is a pretty common oil. Here are a few of our favorites and links to find them!


Most of us have heard of Doterra. They are generally considered a reputable brand of essential oils. The only deterrent to purchasing this oil is the price. At a retail price of $32 per 15ml bottle, this is one of the priciest basil essential oils out there – and it isn’t even organic.

The Plant Guru

By contrast, The Plant Guru offers a 10ml basil essential oil complete with GC/MS test results from a third party. That way you can be sure you are receiving a quality product, all for the low price of $6.99. Although The Plant Guru is newer to the scene, they are quickly making a name for themselves based on their no-nonsense pricing and high-quality products.

Rocky Mountain Oils

Rocky Mountain Oils meets in the middle on price with a 15ml bottle of basil essential oil available for $16.95. Reviewers rave about the potency of this product, and some say that it is much more potent than any other brand that they have tried. Rocky Mountain Oils is also excellent because you can see the GC/MS test results from the specific batch that your bottle is from. This way you know that what you’re getting is pure!

Make your own Basil Oil at Home

You can make a less concentrated version of basil oil at home to use in cooking or topically. Here is just one of many recipes available for use that is super easy and doesn’t require much effort:

  1. Take two ounces of basil and remove the leaves from the stems
  2. Take 12 ounces of olive oil and add it to a resealable container or jar
  3. Carefully stuff the two ounces of basil into the jar with the olive oil
  4. Seal the jar or container
  5. Store at room temperature and preferably in a sunny spot for one day
  6. Strain the oil into another jar, squeezing the basil leaves to remove as much basil as possible
  7. Discard the basil leaves
  8. Store refrigerated in a sealed container for up to one week.

Related Questions

Can you use basil oil in your hair? Are there any benefits?

We briefly mentioned this above, but yes! You certainly can use basil oil in your hair. As mentioned, there is no scientific evidence to back this claim. However, most people do not have allergic reactions to basil so you should be okay putting this in your hair. Always perform a patch test on a small area first before putting this all over your head, though. Individuals who do use basil essential oil say that they see cleaner and shinier hair. Give it a shot and see what you think!

Can you use basil essential oil for aromatherapy?

Absolutely. Several of the uses of basil essential oil that we mention above are aromatherapeutic. The claims that basil essential oil can provide stress relief and stimulate the nervous system are based on inhaling the oil. You can use basil essential oil aroma-therapeutically by inhaling it directly from the bottle, diffusing it, or using it mixed with a carrier oil and applying it topically.

What does basil essential oil blend well with?

Basil essential oil gets along with a lot of other essential oils! Some essential oils that basil blends well with are bergamot, black pepper, cedarwood, fennel, ginger, geranium, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, marjoram, neroli, clary sage, clove bud, lime, juniper, eucalyptus, and more! Play with different combinations of these oils based on your preference and their various healing properties.

How long do the effects of basil oil last?

There doesn’t appear to be a direct answer to this question. Some sources cite a time frame of 20-30 minutes as far as how long you can smell basil essential oil. When talking about the shelf life of basil essential oil, many sources say that this can last up to 3 years but only if it is kept sealed in a cool, dark place.

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