Basil Isn’t Just for Pesto!
The rich sweet scent of basil has dominated my local Farmer’s Market this summer; large baskets of fresh picked sprigs are piled high at almost every stand. The aroma is alluring and intoxicating.
What is it about the scent of basil that is so captivating?
Basil Essential Oil is an ancient herb that is a powerful herbal healer – promoting well-being both physiologically and psycho-spiritually.
Basics about Basil
The botanical name of the basil we cook with is called Ocimum basilicum CT linalool. This type of basil is the most common one found in the US and has a large percentage of a chemical constituent called “Linalool” –which makes it the gentlest variety out of 40+ other species of basil.
So when you shop for Basil essential oil, make sure you look for the Linalool Type (CT linalool) – or look for its common name: Sweet Basil.
The actual plant is a hardy annual that can grow up to three feet. The essential oil is steam distilled from its leaves and flowers.
Basil is originally from India and southeast Asia, and is one of the oldest medicinal herbs, having been farmed there for 5000 years. There are many folk legends and traditions that use basil, and its various species, spanning from Asia to Europe. In 16th century Europe, fresh sweet basil leaves were often pinned to clothing to attract one’s mate, while dried and ground leaves were commonly sniffed to ease chest congestion and headaches.
Holy Basil, which is a different species than the Sweet Basil variety and tends to have a spicier and more stimulating aroma, is used as an herb in Thai and Vietnamese cooking – and is also highly revered by Hindus and Greek Orthodox Christians alike who use it their religious rituals.
What Sweet Basil Oil is good for
Relieves Stress: The light sweet refreshing scent of Sweet Basil is mostly the “linalool” and it is known to have a relaxing effect on our autonomic nervous system by calming our mind of nervous thoughts and providing clarity, while also softening and relaxing tight strained muscles.
Improves skin and hair: Brightens dull grayish skin by stimulating local circulation, clears skin congestion and heals skin infections. For hair it is great to battle oils and grease and liven dull dead ends.
Supports respiratory function: Excellent as an inhalation when battling a cold or allergies, or rubbing on chest to ease a deep cough. Also reinforces meditation by supporting connection to breath.
Stimulates circulation: Wonderful to massage into fatigued legs and feet to improve circulation and energize sluggish blood flow. Also effective to massage into lower belly to improve digestive circulation.
Bolsters against colds and flu: Sweet Basil oil is highly anti-bacterial and anti-septic, so it is a great addition to warding off germs and improving efforts to fight a cold or flu.
Eases pain: Try massaging a body oil or balm, that has some added drops of Sweet Basil Oil, into arthritic joints and strained muscles – it is a powerful analgesic.
Encourages positive state-of-mind: Sweet Basil Oil is a known anti-depressant, and is very uplifting and cheerful. Its sweet aroma quiets negative thoughts and promotes a strong sense of self. Throught the centuries Basil has had a powerful emotional and spiritual element that encourages feelings of love and compassion.
How to use Basil Essential Oil
Topically in skin and body care: A few drops of basil oil can be added to unscented body lotions, shampoos and liquid soaps as well as massage oils and balms.
Diffuser: Drop a few drops in an aromatic oil diffuser to scent a room
Home Care: Add a few drops when you wash the floor, clean the bathroom or do the laundry
Bath: Add a few drops to an aromatic bath.
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