Basil exists in many varieties and is generally believed to have originated in India over 2000 years ago; it was cultivated there and held in great esteem, being used in many religious and magical ceremonies. It later became very popular throughout the Greek and Roman civilizations (the word basil comes from the Latin word basilica meaning royal). It now grows wild in many Mediterranean regions. Basil is a versatile herb and exists in many different species. The versatility of Basil makes it a great favorite with Aromatherapists it is also widely used in cookery, in many countries, used to add flavor to many dishes.
Basil has long been used in India in Ayurverdic medicine. Of the many varieties of Basil the one favored for use in aromatherapy is French Basil (also known as true sweet basil). It has a spicy and clean aroma with a faint hint of aniseed. The essential oil is usually extracted, by a process of steam distillation of the flowering tops of the herb and the leaves. The oil produced blends well with frankincense, mandarin, bergamot, geranium, orange, neroli, peppermint, clary sage and petigrain.
Basil is a popular and versatile oil making it a widely used essential oil by aromatherapists, it is especially suitable for reducing fevers and easing colds and flu. It can also be helpful for treating headaches, migraines, flatulence, depression, anxiety and nervous tension. It has been used for many years as an insect repellent and helps draw the poison from insect bites and stems, it has high antioxidant properties and is used as a massage oil to ease general aches and pains. It can also bring relief to people suffering from arthritis or rheumatism.
Some of the more popular ways of using the oil is for massaging, in baths, as an inhalant or a room fragrancer.
Basil oil can sometimes irritate sensitive skin in such circumstances cases a low dilution is recommended, also it is generally not used for babies, very young children or during pregnancy.