ChapterPDF Available

Basil: A natural source of antioxidants and neutraceuticals


Abstract and Figures

Some endemic species of medicinal and culinary herbs are of particular interest due to presence of phytochemicals with significant antioxidant capacities and health benefits. Phytochemical rich plant materials are increasingly of interest in the food and medical industry as they are helpful in oxidative retardation of lipids as well as due to their preservative action against microorganisms. Many medicinal plants are rich with large amounts of antioxidants other than vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoids. Basils come with loads of health benefits as it is a rich source of key nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, beta carotene. Basil leaves are helpful in sharpening memory. Basil is also useful in treatment of fever, common cold, stress, purifying blood, reducing blood glucose, risk of heart attacks and cholesterol level, mouth ulcer and arthritis. Anti-inflammatory properties of basil are also well known.
Content may be subject to copyright.
© CAB International 2016. Leafy Medicinal Herbs: Botany, Chemistry,
Postharvest Technology and Uses (eds D.C.P. Ambrose et al.) 27
3.1 Botany
3.1.1 Introduction
Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) is an annual
herb belonging to the mint family (Lamiaceae).
It has been utilized for millennia and is an
essential ingredient in many cooking tradi-
tions and practices (Agarwal et al., 2013).
The genus Ocimum contains a range of some
50 to 150 species and varieties that are native
to the tropical regions of Asia and Central
and South Africa (Ghosh, 1995). The uncer-
tainty in the exact number of species within
the genus is largely attributed to the enor-
mous variation that is found among the con-
stituent species. The variability is prevalent
in the morphology, growth habit, ower col-
our, leaves, stems and chemical composition
(Svecova and Neugebauerova, 2010). Basil
cross- pollinates readily, and the resulting
diversity and variation has led some authors
to reclassify sections of the genus (Paton, 1992).
There are a number of plants outside the genus
Ocimum with the common name basil, in-
cluding ‘basil thyme’ (Acinos arvensis (Lam.)
Dandy) and ‘wild basil’ (Clinopodium vulgare L.),
which can sometimes lead to confusion and
O. basilicum is known by different names
depending on the location. In the English
language, it is typically called basil, common
basil or sweet basil. In India, specically in
Hindi and Bengali, it called babui tulsi. Other
common names of basil are basilica (in French),
basilikum or basilienkraut (in German), ba-
silico (in Italian), rehan (in Arabic) and alba-
haca (in Spanish). In Arabic, it is known as
hebak as well as rihan (Kirtikar and Basu,
2003, cited by Bilal et al., 2012). Probably the
most familiar basil is sweet basil (O. basilicum);
however, this has a large number of cultivars,
varying in avour, scent and uses. There are
more than 160 named cultivars in existence
today. Popular examples include, O. basili-
cum ‘Cinnamon’, O. basilicum ‘Dark Opal’
and holy basil (the species O. tenuiorum L.,
previously known as O. sanctum L.) (Fig. 3.1).
Scents and avours can range from cinnamon,
liquorice and lemon to anise. The plants can
be shrubby or herbaceous, and vary in size
from 20 cm to 3 m tall, depending on the spe-
cies (and the literature source used). The
leaves can be smooth, shiny, hairy or curly,
and they can be green to blue/purple. The
ower colour ranges from white to purple to
lavender (Meyers, 2003). Most of the regular
varieties of basil are considered annuals;
3 Basil
D. Lupton,1 M. Mumtaz Khan,2 R.A. Al-Yahyai2* and M. Asif Hanif3
1Oman Botanic Garden, Muscat, Oman; 2Sultan Qaboos University,
Muscat, Oman; 3University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan
*Corresponding author, e-mail:
0002713920.INDD 27 4/20/2016 4:04:33 PM
28 D. Lupton et al.
however, in warm tropical regions many
perennial varieties exist, e.g. O. tenuiorum
(Simon et al. 1999; Tilebeni, 2011) (Fig. 3.1).
Their wide range of forms, colours and sizes
has elevated the ornamental importance of
basil in recent years (Svecova and Neugebau-
erova, 2010) and has increased the plants
economic value globally. It is not uncommon
to see basil grown as an ornamental plant in
public parks and home gardens (Fig. 3.1).
The essential oil content of basil is show
a similar variability between species and
cultivars and is thought to be the result of
varying ecological factors, geographic ori-
gins, genetic patterns, different chemotypes
and differences in the nutritional status of
plants. In Finland, 17 different collections,
all called sweet basil, were analysed for
their morphological traits and chemical
make-up. A large amount of variation was
recorded for both characteristics. A similar
variability was found when ten Italian com-
mercially available basil cultivars were
studied. The chemical analyses of the var-
ieties showed correlations with their morpho-
logical characters. Two varieties with violet
leaves were linalool chemotypes and three of
the large-leaved varieties were linalool and
methyl chavicol (estragole or p-methoxyallyl
benzene) chemotypes (Galambosi, 1995, cited
by Putievsky and Galambosi, 1999). The bulk
of the essential oil of basil plants is concen-
trated in the leaves and owers; there are trace
quantities of essential oils in the branches
and stems, but the amounts are not commer-
cially important (Svecova and Neugebauerova,
2010). Basil is highly variable both morpho-
logically and chemically, and the variations
appear to be strongly inuenced by eco-
logical factors. The origin, source and grow-
ing conditions of basil therefore have an
impact on plant uses, and in particular upon
its avours, aromas and medical uses. This
variability of basil is reected in its broad
array of uses, which will be discussed in
more detail later in the chapter.
3.1.2 History/origin
O. basilicum is indigenous to India and other
areas in tropical Asia, where it has been
grown for 5000 years. The generic name,
Ocimum, originates from the ancient Greek
word okimon, which means smell (Tucker
and DeBaggio, 2000). There are a numerous
suggestions for the origins for the word basil.
One is that it stems from the Greek word
basileus, meaning king, as it is believed to
have grown close to the area where St Con-
stantine and his mother St Helen discovered
the Holy Cross (Jacqueline, 2001). According
to Parkinson, basil’s scent was ‘t for a king’s
house’ (Grieve, 1931). Other less fanciful specu-
lation suggests that the origin of the name
basil stems from the similarity of the species
name, basilicum, to the name of the basilisk,
the fabled serpent with the deadly gaze
(Meyers, 2003).
The history of basil is steeped in legend
and mystery. Many believe it was Alexander
the Great (356–323
) who brought it to
Greece. Basil is thought to have been brought
to England from India in the 1500s, eventu-
ally arriving in the USA in the early 1600s
(Darrah, 1980). Culpeper, Gerard and Dios-
cordes mention basil in their respective
herbals (Meyers, 2003).
Gerard praised basil as a remedy for mel-
ancholy but also repeated Dioscorides’ warn-
ing that too much basil ‘dulleth the sight …
and is of a hard digestion’ (Gerard, 1975, cited
by Meyers, 2003). Basil was also alleged to
cause the spontaneous generation of scorpions
and to cause scorpions to develop in the brain.
The link with scorpions is evident today in
basil’s depiction with the astrological sign of
Scorpio (Reppert, 1984, cited by Meyers, 2003).
Fig. 3.1. A basil plant in flower. Basil is usually
cultivated as an ornamental in Middle Eastern
countries due to its attractive flowers and aroma.
0002713920.INDD 28 4/20/2016 4:04:33 PM
Basil 29
3.1.3 Location
Although basil is grown in a variety of cli-
matic and environmental conditions, the
optimum conditions are found in countries
with a warm climate. Warmth, light and
moisture are the key ecological requirements
for basil cultivation. The herb is susceptible
to frost so outdoor cultivation is restricted to
frost-free regions of the world. Basil is grown
widely in the following countries: India,
Pakistan, Comores Islands, Madagascar, Haiti,
Guatemala, Réunion, Thailand, Indonesia,
Russia (Georgia, East Caucasus) and South
Africa, Egypt, Morocco, France, Israel, Bulgar ia,
the USA (Arizona, California, New Mexico),
Italy, Hungary, Poland, Germany, Greece,
Turkey, other Balkan countries and Slovakia
(Putievsky and Galambosi, 1999).
Absolute gures for basil oil production
are difcult to acquire. There are numerous
small-scale growers working in local oper-
ations whose production gures are not in-
tegrated into national statistics. However,
there are some gross gures available from
the 1990s, when gross world production of
basil oils was approximately 93–95 tons/year
of which 55 tons was from O. gratissimum L.
and 43 tons from O. basilicum. About 100 kg
of oils were produced from O. canum
(Simms) (preferred name O. americanum L.).
Basil oils were then produced in the follow-
ing countries (the quantities that follow in
parentheses are tons): India (15), Bulgaria (7),
Egypt (5), Pakistan (4.5), the Comoros (4.5),
Israel (2), the former Yugoslavia (1), the USA
(1), Madagascar (1), Réunion and Albania
(each 0.5), Hungary (0.3) and Argentina (0.2)
(Lawrence, 1993, cited by Hiltunen and
Holm, 1999). The USA is probably the lar-
gest market for basil oil, followed by the
European countries of Germany, France, the
UK and the Netherlands (Robbins and Green-
halg, 1979, cited by Hiltunen and Holm,
Global statistics for the production of
dried basil are also hard to obtain. A large
portion of the world production, chiey in
the Mediterranean region, and in India and
California, is not sold internationally; most of
the basil in these areas is consumed locally.
Import statistics also show that the USA is
one of the world’s biggest users of dried basil
(Putievsky and Galambosi, 1999).
Other important areas for basil import-
ation are the European countries. In the 1990s,
the total amount of basil herb imported to
Europe was about 830–880 t/year. France is the
largest importer at 300–350 t/year, followed
by the UK (250 t/year), Germany (200 t/year)
and the Netherlands (80 t/year). The largest
supplier of the Western European countries
was Egypt (Putievsky and Galambosi, 1999).
3.1.4 Morphology
O. basilicum is an upright, branching herb,
0.6–0.9 m high with square, glabrous stems
and branches, usually green but sometimes
purple in colour. The leaves are simple and
oppositely arranged on the stem. They are
2.5–5 cm or more long and are ovate with an
acute tip; the margins are entire, more or
less toothed or lobed (Jayaweera, 1981, cit-
ed by Bilal et al., 2012). The petiole is 1.3–
2.5 cm long. The leaves have numerous oil
glands which exude strongly scented vola-
tile oil. The inorescence is usually racem-
ose, and the terminal raceme is usually
much longer than the lateral ones. The
bracts are stalked, shorter than the calyx,
ovate and acute. The calyx is 5 mm long,
enlarging on the fruit. The fruit has a short
pedicel. The calyx lower lip has two central
teeth and is longer than the rounded upper
lip. The corolla is 8–13 mm long, white,
pink or purplish in colour, and glabrous or
slightly pubescent. The nutlets (seeds) are
about 2 mm long, ellipsoid, black and pit-
ted. There are ve ower sepals that remain
fused into a two-lipped calyx. The ovary is
superior and the fruit consists of four achenes
(Jayaweera, 1981, cited by Bilal et al., 2012).
Basil requires warm temperate or Medi-
terranean conditions. The optimum tem-
perature for germination is 20°C, with
growing temperatures of 7 to 27°C (Simon,
1995). The plant develops best in long-day,
full-sun conditions. It cannot tolerate
drought as the plant tissue is very tender.
Basil requires well-drained, fertile soils
with a high organic matter content. It grows
well in soils with a pH ranging from 4.3 to
0002713920.INDD 29 4/20/2016 4:04:33 PM
30 D. Lupton et al.
8.2 and has an optimum pH of 6.4. Basil has
medium, deep roots and a high water re-
quirement (Simon, 1995).
3.2 Chemistry
Basil is an impressively aromatic plant and
is used as a sweet-smelling herb. Different
phenotypic characters, including taste,
aroma and many others, are used to de-
scribe a variety of basil ecotypes. The height
of plants varies from 30 to 300 cm and leaf
colour from green to blue/purple; this de-
pends on the type of species (Hiltunen and
Holm, 1999). The name of each basil type
often represents its particular avour, with
the exception of the sweet basil, whose taste
is bright and pungent; anise basil, lemon
basil and cinnamon basil offer unique a-
vours as indicated by their names. The es-
sential oil present in the leaves and other
parts of a number of basil species/cultivars
is responsible for its distinctive fragrance
and aroma. In most species of basil, methyl
chavicol, eugenol and linalool are major
components. Different species or cultivars
have different amounts of each of these
chemical constituents, which hence are re-
sponsible for the different taste and aroma
of each basil cultivar. As an example, the
sweet aroma of methyl chavicol has been
compared with that of French tarragon and
anise, while a oral scent is produced by
linalool and eugenol is reminiscent of cloves.
The major component present in sweet
basils is methyl chavicol while eugenol is
present in large amount in spicy basils.
Other chemical components responsible for
avour include geranial (a rose avour),
thymol (a thyme avour), camphor, trans-
methyl cinnamate (a cinnamon avour) and
citral (lemon) (DeBaggio and Belsinger, 1996;
Al-Maskri et al., 2011).
3.2.1 Chemical composition
In sweet basil, the fat content and caloric
value is low while high amount of minerals
and vitamin A are present. In 2.5 g of basil
leaves (ve fresh leaves), there are 96.6 IU
vitamin A, 3.85 mg calcium, less than 1 cal-
orie, 11.55 mg potassium, and smaller pro-
portions of vitamin C and other vitamins,
protein, bre and minerals. The GRAS (gen-
erally recognized as safe) list of the US De-
partment of Agriculture includes sweet
basil leaf to be used in the range of 2–680
ppm and 0.01–50 ppm for the essential oil.
The use of exceedingly large quantities of
oil is suggested to have a health risk due to
the occurrence of carcinogenic compounds.
The GRAS-suggested amount of basil essen-
tial oil is very minute, and internal use of a
large amount of this oil should be avoided
(Hanif et al., 2011; Hosseini-Parvar et al.,
3.2.2 Phytochemistry
O. tenuiorum has essential oils mostly con-
ned to the green leaves and thus has a par-
ticular aroma. This leaf scented volatile oil
chiey comprises phenols, terpenes and al-
dehydes. Besides its essential or xed oils,
the plant also includes alkaloids, glyco-
sides, saponins and tannins. The leaves
also contain particular amounts of carotene
and ascorbic acid. The reported chemical
properties of basil leaves are based on nu-
merous worldwide studies, and hence ed-
aphic and geographic factors are expected
to inuence different chemical ingredients.
The difference in aroma between different
varieties of O. basilicum is due to the vari-
ous compositions of their essential oils.
In various parts of the world, basil cultivars
are present in large diversity, indicating a
diverse range of chemical composition.
The essential oil of basil usually contains
α-terpineol, eucalyptol, eugenol, methyl eu-
genol, linalool, β-elemene, germacrene D, α-
bergamotene, α-guaiene, cubenol, τ-cadinol,
camphor, bornylacetate, α-caryophyllene, β-
caryophyllene, elixen, β-cadinene, α-copaene,
α-bisabolol, β-farnesene, epibiciclosesqui-
phelandrene, τ-muralol, δ-gurjunene and
δ-cadinene (Hanif et al., 2011). The various
types of fatty acids present in three Ocimum
species are presented in Table 3.1. The presence
of cardiac glycosides, saponins and tannins in
0002713920.INDD 30 4/20/2016 4:04:33 PM
Basil 31
the aqueous extract of O. basilicum plants
has been shown by phytochemical analysis.
3.3 Postharvest Technology
Conventionally, the best harvesting time
for basil is early in the morning just after
the evaporation of the dew and before the
day temperature starts increasing. The
strongest activity of basil essential oil has
been observed in the morning. No diffe-
rence in avour contents has been reported
in some ndings between fresh and dried
basil, but the avour complexity and inten-
sity that has been observed in fresh leaves
is lost to a large extent in the dried leaves.
Fresh basil, when placed in an airtight bag
after it is wrapped in numerous paper
towels, can be stored for a week (or less) in
a refrigerator.
This herb cannot be stored easily for a
longer time unless it is dried, so appropriate
drying of leaves is recommended for long- term
storage. The leaves should not be shredded or
broken during drying because the essential
oil content will be lost and the aroma will be
reduced in such leaves. For basil leaves,
shade drying is more appropriate than sun
drying in order to avoid the loss of fragrance
due to volatility of the essential oils. If dried
basil is kept in closed jars and away from
heat and light, it can be stored for a year.
The leaves of basil can also be maintained
for some time by salt layering. Another type
of preferred long-term handling could be
the freeze storage. If the leaves are chopped
and tightly wrapped in plastic sheets for
freezing, then they will remain green and
blackening of the leaves during freezing can
be avoided. The leaves can also be frozen in
ice cube trays after mixing with olive oil in
a food processor. For domestic use, basil
leaves can also be preserved by adding olive
oil and salt to the storage jar and keeping in
a refrigerator. Bacterial growth during such
storage may be a possible problem, and even
under refrigerated storage, infection with
Clostridium botulinum may cause botulism.
To avoid food-borne botulism, it is import-
ant to strictly follow food safety/sanitation
instructions for product receipt, handling,
processing and storage. For culinary pur-
poses, single or multiple fresh leaves can
be removed and used (Pushpangadan and
George, 2012).
3.3.1 Processing
Basil, like other herbal plants, is consumed
in a variety of ways and for various purposes.
In addition to the use of fresh leaves, other
common processed forms of basil include
whole dry leaves, frozen or powdered leaves,
and extracted essential oils. Whole plants or
chopped leaves can be stored frozen, with
and without oils, to be used for extended
periods of time beyond the fresh shelf life.
Alternative traditional methods for preserv-
ing basil leaves include storage in salt and in
the form of oil concentrates (Meyers, 2003).
Table 3.1. Fatty acid composition in Basil species (O. album, O. basilicum and
O.tenuiflorum). From Malik et al., 1987, 1979.
Fatty acid O. albumaO. basilicumaO. tenuiflorumb
Arachidonic acid (C20:4) 2.73
Capric acid (C10:0) 1.30
Lauric acid (C12:0) 0.78 0.85 2.84
Linoleic acid (C18:2) 36.36 21.18 59.10
α-Linolenic acid (C18:3) 48.50 21.27
Myristic acid (C14:0) 0.68 0.36 1.90
Oleic acid (C18:1) 44.16 13.33 6.00
Palmitic acid (C16:0) 11.68 9.70 5.54
Stearic acid (C18:0) 2.33 5.45 3.12
aMalik et al., 1987; bMalik et al., 1989.
0002713920.INDD 31 4/20/2016 4:04:34 PM
32 D. Lupton et al.
The herb is traditionally dried by hang-
ing washed bundles inverted in a dry and
shaded place or placing whole spread leaves
between two sheets of paper to prevent oxi-
dation and discoloration. Forced warm air
drying is used for industrial production.
Basil leaves should be dried immediately
after harvest because they darken if exposed
to the open air for an extended period of
time. Drying should be done at a temperature
not exceeding 40°C to minimize the evapor-
ation of volatile compounds (Putievsky and
Galambosi, 1999). Dried basil can be pre-
served for a year when it is protected from
heat, light and moisture (Meyers, 2003).
Essential oil can be extracted from basil
in two forms, as herbal oil that originates
from the leaves (0.1–0.25%) or as a superior-
quality oral oil that is collected from the
owers (0.4%) (Srivastava, 1980; Putievsky
and Galambosi, 1999). In India, owers are
harvested four times during the season and
produce 12–13 kg/ha oil yield compared to
18–22 kg/ha from one harvest from the
much higher fresh yield of whole plants
(Srivastava, 1980). In Israel, plants are har-
vested when half of them have owers and
the fresh annual yield is 75 tons/ha, which
produces an essential oil yield 120–140 kg/ha
(Putievsky and Galambosi, 1999). A similar
distillation process is used for basil oil ex-
traction to the one that is commercially used
for other herbs; this takes about an hour us-
ing freshly harvested leaves (Wijesekera, 1986;
Denny, 1995).
3.3.2 Value addition
Basil leaves can be mixed with a variety of
other herbs, including juniper, garlic, mar-
joram, oregano, paprika, mustard, parsley,
pepper, sage, rosemary and thyme, and can be
used in stufngs, soups, stews and rice, and
also with sh, vegetables, chicken and meats.
They can be a key ingredient in vinegars,
jams, teas, cheeses, drinks, oils and liqueurs
too. Purple basil vinegars can be produced
with a good colour, and according to personal
taste, cinnamon and lemon basils are used to
make delicious desserts and may increase
their taste. Larger leaves can be minced, torn
or chopped and consumed. Small leaves are
good to add to vegetarian dishes, salads, rice
and pasta. For maximum avour, basil is
added at the end of cooking. It is used fresh as
well as dried, but the drying reduces the pre-
dominant avours. The uses of basil are diverse
and plenteous; it is used with meat, vegetables,
sh, dressings, sauces, stews, herbal teas, li-
queurs and mixed drinks. It is universally
used by both the domestic and the industrial-
ized producer in the preparation of pesto,
a varying combination of basil, cheese, garlic,
oil and nuts. Basil is often used as an add-
itional avour with tomatoes. Garden- fresh
basil is preserved in vinegar or oil, or frozen.
Chilling of basil preserves the avour of the
herb more effectively than does drying. The
length of storage of dried basil is far more than
that of fresh basil, which lasts for only a short
time in the refrigerator.
3.4 Uses
Despite being consumed at relatively low
amounts, the high levels of antioxidants and
minerals in herbs means that many of them
have signicant health benets. It is not fully
understood what quantities of basil should
be ingested to achieve its health benets,
There are no standards or recommendations
as to the precise amounts to use. Neverthe-
less, basil is almost completely calorie free
and contains high quantities of dietary bre
and minerals. Even though there appears to
be no logical evidence for its usefulness to
human health, basil tea and oil are readily
available in many health food stores. Having
said that, basil is a popular food additive and
provides a distinctive avour and aroma.
Basil is a great addition to any kitchen, it adds
both avour and personality to many dishes
(Hosseini-Parvar et al., 2015).
3.4.1 General uses
Ritualistic uses
Basil has many uses ranging from culinary
to religious, and these are often steeped in
0002713920.INDD 32 4/20/2016 4:04:34 PM
Basil 33
ritual. There are a number of interesting
beliefs linked with the historical use of basil.
In Europe, it was associated with death and it
was considered to be unlucky to dream of it.
In contrast, in Italy, women wore it in their
hair and young men wore it behind their
ears when they went courting (Dymock et al.,
2005). Hindus in India believe that if you
are buried with basil, it is a guaranteed
ticket to heaven. The English used it in food
and to repel pests, e.g. ies, and evil spirits.
Basil is often called l’herbe royale (the royal
herb) by the French. Jewish folklore implies
that while fasting, basil gives you strength
(Miele et al., 2001). In Portugal, potted basil
is presented to a loved one on the religious
holidays of St John and St Antony. Holy basil
has religious worth across a range of belief
systems; the Greek, Bulgarian, Romanian and
Serbian Orthodox churches utilize basil in the
preparation of holy water, in some instances
a pot of basil is placed under the church
altar (Tilebeni, 2011).
Culinary uses
Basil has been incorporated into culinary
preparations for thousands of years, and it
is a very useful gastronomic herb found in
a wealth of dishes, sauces and condiments,
soups, stews and stufng, and also in sh,
meats and vegetables. It is easily blended
with other herbs, including, garlic, oregano,
mustard, parsley, pepper, rosemary and thyme
(Hemphill, 2000, cited by Meyers, 2003). It
is also an important constituent in teas, oils,
cheeses and liqueurs (Darrah, 1980; Simon,
1995). Basil is an important component of
many alcoholic beverages, including bitters,
liquors and spirits. By adding a blend of
mixed essential oils of fennel, basil and cori-
ander to a salt solution of whey, Russian re-
searchers found a method to enhance the
storage of a carbonated fermented milk bever-
age (Askerova et al., 1993). Fresh, frozen or
dried basil (1–40 g/1) is also used in spirits,
garlic or lemon alcoholic beverages, which
may be sweet or dry, according to a German
patent (Meier, 1990, cited by Hiltunen and
Holm, 1999). Basil essential oil has signicant
commercial value. It is utilized in a range of
industrial products, including beverages,
prepared foods, dental products, fragrances
and soaps (Darrah, 1980). O. gratissimum and
O. basilicum essential oils are considered eco-
nomic materials in their own right (Lawless,
Insecticidal properties
Many synthetic insecticides have signicant
negative side effects and are expensive to
produce. Efforts to develop alternative more
environmentally friendly insect repellents
are high on the environmental agenda. Some
evidence suggests that basil has powerful in-
secticidal properties. A number of studies
have been carried out in this respect on
Ocimum spp. One hundred per cent repel-
lence of O. gratissimum essential oil (2% in
acetone) has been observed against Musca
domestica (the housey) (Singh et al., 1985).
Another study demonstrated that O. basilicum
essential oil repelled the red our beetle,
Tribolium castaneum (Mohiuddin et al., 1987,
cited by Nahak et al., 2011).
Traditional medical uses
Basil has an extensive list of traditional
medical uses. O. basilicum has more than
50 medicinal uses, from analgesic to anthel-
mintic, and is supposed to treat fungal infec-
tions, acne, headaches and over 100 such
conditions (Duke, 2002, cited by Meyers,
2003). The following are just a small sample
of the traditional medicinal uses. The trad-
itional Chinese medicine system involves the
use of O.basilicum for treatment of gum ul-
cers, kidney problems and as a haemostyptic
in childbirth. In India, it is used for problems
as diverse as earache, menstrual irregular-
ities, arthritis, anorexia and malaria (Medical
Economics Company, 2000, cited by Meyers,
2003). Rihan (O. basilicum in Arabic) is used
in treatment of colds, cataract and diarrhoea
in northern and central Oman (Ghazanfar and
Al Sabahi, 1993). Reyhan (the Persian name)
is used to treat urinary tract infection, chest
and lung problems, ulcers and inuenza, and
in Iran, basil is employed as a tonic, appetizer
and expectorant (Naghibi et al., 2005, cited in
Rivera Núñez et al., 2012). In Jordan, an infu-
sion of basil is considered to be anthelmintic,
0002713920.INDD 33 4/20/2016 4:04:34 PM
34 D. Lupton et al.
anti-emetic and antidiarrhoeal (Kirtikar and
Basu, 2003, cited by Bilal et al., 2012). In Guinea,
the leaves and stems are used to treat fever,
neuralgia, catarrh and renal troubles (Kirtikar
and Basu, 2003, cited in Bilal et al., 2012). In
Ethiopia, the leaves are used against malaria,
headache and diarrhoea. In homeopathy, the
fresh mature leaves are used to treat blood dys-
entery, inammation and congestion of the
kidney. The roots and the leaves are used to
trea t bowel complaints in children (Jayaweera,
1981, cited by Bilal et al., 2012; Kirtikar and
Basu, 2003, cited by Bilal et al., 2012). There
is a long list of traditional basil remedies in
the literature and according to folklore. As is
seen from this account, the uses of basil are
medically and geographically diverse.
There is considerable interest in study-
ing the properties and benets of basil.
The following paragraphs and Section 3.4.2
(Pharmacological uses) examine a number of
the pharmacological characteristics of basil
and explore some of the current research.
Basil has been found to show effective-
ness against many fungal, viral, bacterial and
protozoal infections. Current studies suggest
that basil is helpful in inhibiting the growth of
carcinogenic cells and in HIV. Basil leaves
are used specically to treat many fevers and
coughs, u, asthma, inuenza, bronchitis,
colds, chicken pox and diarrhoea, and they
can lower the cholesterol level in blood and
act as anti-stress agents. Basil juice is an ef-
fective medicine for inamed eyes and night-
blindness, which is often caused by vitamin
A deciency (Grieve and Marshall, 1982;
Boggia et al., 2015; Hosseini-Parvaret al., 2015).
There are frequent studies on the anti-
fungal activity of Ocimum leaves, essential
oils and their components and extracts.
Fresh ripe tomato fruits were treated before
and after inoculation with Aspergillus niger
in the presence of Drosophila busckii by an
ethanolic extract of O. tenuiorum. The
fruits did not show signs of rotting for 5 to
7 days after this treatment (Sinha and Saxena,
1989, cited by Nahak et al., 2011). The es-
sential oil of O. canum was successful against
the fungi causing damping-off disease, Pyth-
ium aphanidermatum, P. debaryanum and
Rhizoctonia solani. O. canum gave a 50%
reduction in damping-off disease of tomato
plants in P. aphanidermatum-infected soil
and up to 43% reduction in P. debaryanum-
infected soil. Phytotoxicity of this essential
oil was not observed and it was superior to
common synthetic fungicides such as captan
(Pandey and Dubey, 1992, 1994). O. basilicum
essential oil displayed antifungal properties
against an Aspergillus avus strain producing
aatoxin and against A. parasiticus. The fun-
gistatic properties of the oil were observed at a
dose of 1.5 ml/1 and the fungicidal properties
at 6.0 ml/1. These doses are much lower than
those of industrial synthetic fungicides and
fumigants, and effect of the oil treatment is not
altered by storage, temperature or increased
inocula (Nahak et al., 2011). Antimicrobial ac-
tivity of sweet basil has been found against
such organisms as Lactobacillus acidophilus,
Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Mycoderma sp.,
A. niger and Bacillus cereus (Meena and Vijay,
1994, cited by Hiltunen and Holm, 1999).
3.4.2 Pharmacological uses
Basil oil is known to have strong antioxidant
properties. Research has shown the oil contains
potent anticancer, antiviral and antimicrobial
properties (Tilebeni, 2011). Antioxidants are
an important part of maintaining a healthy
and balanced lifestyle, and basil maybe a very
important source of these essential compounds
(Baritaux et al., 1992, cited by Tilebeni, 2011).
However, despite these reputed properties, it
is important to be aware that basil contains
estragole, which may be carcinogenic. In Ger-
many, for example, basil is not considered safe
for pregnant women or children (Aruna and
Sivaramakrishnan, 1992, cited by Meyers, 2003).
There is extensive diversity in the
phytochemical constituents of basil; these
constituents vary signicantly with time,
cultivation processes and storage. The nutri-
tional and pharmacological properties of
the whole herb in natural form, as it has been
traditionally used, results from the inter-
action of many different active phytochemi-
cals, and consequently, the overall benets
of basil cannot be completely duplicated us-
ing single isolated constituents (Tewari et al.,
2012). There is very little data relating to a
standardized dosage available from traditional
0002713920.INDD 34 4/20/2016 4:04:34 PM
Basil 35
practitioners, which is problematic for chem-
ists and pharmacists. This raises the issue
that there needs to be a greater communica-
tion between traditional and orthodox medi-
cine in order to improve our understanding
of the interactions and properties of basil
(Tewari et al., 2012).
Research into the medicinal properties
and effects of basil has been conducted
at various levels. A methanolic extract of
O. basilicum was assessed for it analgesic
activity in mice. Choudary et al. (2010, cited
by Bilal et al., 2012) demonstrated that anal-
gesic activity at a concentration 200 mg/kg
was similar to that of the drug aspirin. Bene-
dec et al. (2007) examined the effects of an
O. basilicum tincture in acute inammation
in male rats and showed a small but consid-
erably important inammatory effect. O. ba-
silicum oil was shown to contain signicant
anti-ulcer activity against aspirin, alcohol,
histamine, serotonin and stress-induced gas-
tric ulceration (Singh et al., 1999, cited by
Nahak et al., 2011). Zeggwagh et al. (2007,
cited by Bilal et al., 2012) studied the hypo-
glycaemic effect of aqueous extract of O. ba-
silicum in normal and diabetic rats. Their
results showed the extracts had high anti-
hypoglycaemic effects in diabetic rats.
In the last decade or two, an increased
methodical interest in the health benets of
plant phytochemicals (in herbs and spices,
vegetables and fruits) has gained prominence
in the wider study of plant-based nutritional
research. Although the study of plant com-
pounds is by no means a new area of research,
scientists have only recently started to char-
acterize bioactive compounds in order to
explore their effects on human health and
disease. In animal and cell culture studies,
basil has displayed anti-inammatory, antidi-
abetic, antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-
cancer activity (Arfat et al., 2014).
Use as a prophylactic agent
A decoction of basil leaves is used against
hepatic and gastritis disorders. Basil leaf
juice is used to treat dysentery, night blind-
ness and conjunctivitis. The essential oils of
basil have 100% larvicidal properties. Basil
has excellent antimalarial properties and
eugenol is the main constituent responsible
for its mosquito-repellent properties. Basil
leaf paste is effective against ringworm in-
fection and to clear marks on the face. The
occurrence of urosolic acid in the leaves
helps to remove wrinkles and returns skin
elasticity. Basil is highly benecial in healing
wounds, cuts and ulcers, and in removing
parasites and worms (Bansod and Rai, 2008).
It supplies numerous antioxidants and offers
generous reinforcement against free radical-
induced damage. Oxygen free radicals are
naturally occurring physiological products
containing one or more unpaired electrons,
and along with reactive oxygen species (ROS),
are considered to be harmful to important
membrane lipids, proteins, carbohydrates
and DNA. This damage has been related to
several diseases, for example atheroscler-
osis, liver cirrhosis, cancer and diabetes, etc.
(Chiang et al., 2005; Bansod and Rai, 2008).
It has been well accepted that dietary antioxi-
dants have great prospects for curing these
disease processes. Antioxidants also enhance
the activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and
reduce lipid peroxidation (Rai et al., 1997;
Hannan et al., 2006). Basil antioxidants help
in maintaining good health and in prevent-
ing the chance occurrence of heart diseases,
as well as most of the other degenerative dis-
eases, because oxidative stress is the hall-
mark of such diseases (Hannan et al., 2006).
Anticancer activity
The anticancer activity of basil has been long
established and is mentioned by several
investigators (e.g. Karthikeyan et al., 1999;
Somkuwar, 2003). Protection against cancer
at the cellular level is provided by the
unique array of avonoids that are found in
basil. Water-soluble avonoids of basil, in-
cluding vicenin and orientin, have been
shown to defend cell structures and chromo-
somes against radiation and oxygen-based
damage in human white blood cell studies
(Madhuri, 2001). Basil leaf alcoholic extracts
have a modulatory impact on carcinogen-
metabolizing enzymes such as aryl hydrocarbon
hydroxylase and glutathione-S-transferase,
(GST) and the cytochromes P450 and b5.
They are important detoxicants of mutagens
0002713920.INDD 35 4/20/2016 4:04:34 PM
36 D. Lupton et al.
and carcinogens. Basil anticancer activity has
also been established against human brosar-
coma cell cultures, in which alcohol extracts
induced cytotoxicity at 50 mg/ml and above.
Morphologically, the cancer cells showed
condensed nuclei and shrunken cytoplasm
and the DNA was found to be fragmented on
agarose gel electrophoresis. Basil considerably
decreased the occurrence of 3-methyl-4-
dimethylaminoazobenzene-induced hepato-
mas in rats and benzo(α)pyrene-induced neo-
plasia of the forestomach of mice. An alcohol
extract of basil leaves was shown to have an
inhibitory effect on chemically induced skin
papillomas in mice (Devi, 2001). A leaf ex-
tract of basil applied to 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)
anthracene (DMBA)-induced papillomas in
mice considerably reduced tumour incidence,
the average number of papillomas per mouse
and the cumulative number of papillomas.
Eugenol, a avonoid present in basil and other
plants showed similar activity. Oral treat-
ment with basil fresh leaf paste inhibits the
early events of DMBA-induced buccal pouch
carcinogenesis. Basil leaf extract suppresses
or blocks the events related to chemical
carcinogenesis by hindering the metabolic
activation of the carcinogen (Aggarwal and
Shishodia, 2006).
Radioprotective activity
The avonoids vicenin and orientin from
basil leaves exhibited a greater radioprotec-
tive effect than synthetic radioprotectors by
protecting human lymphocytes from the clas-
togenic effects of radiation at low, non-toxic
dilutions (Devi et al., 2000). Among three plant
extracts, viz. Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal,
O. tenuiorum and Plumbago rosea (preferred
name P. indica L.), tested on experimental
mice for bone marrow survival following 2
Gy γ-radiation, O. tenuiorum water extract
exhibited maximum radioprotection as meas-
ured by an exogenous spleen colony forming
unit (CFU-S) assay (Devi et al., 1998).
Antimicrobial activity
It is the volatile/essential oils of a hydro-
phobic nature that account for the biochem-
ical actions of spices and herbs (Pandey and
Madhuri, 2010). Basil contains many aro-
matic essential oil compounds that uctuate
in proportion and quality depending on the
cultivar. The important aromatic compounds
present include linalool, eugenol, citral, me-
thyl chavicol/estragole, limonene and me-
thyl cinnamate. These aromatic compounds
defend the herb from insects, bacteria and
fungi. In similar fashion, they can help in
protecting against diseases caused by fungi,
bacteria and insects.
In studies involving cell culture, the es-
sential oils of basil have demonstrated anti-
microbial activity by damaging bacterial cell
walls and triggering cell lysis. Linalool, me-
thyl chavicol and methyl cinnamate are also
very efcient in hindering the development
of pathogenic bacteria such as Escherichia
coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus
faecalis, Shigella spp., Mycobacterium spp.,
Salmonella spp. and Pseudomonas aerugi-
nosa. Pathogenic bacteria can cause illnesses
such as pneumonia, food poisoning, urinary
tract infections and dysentery.
Basil is also a well-recognized insecti-
cidal, antiviral and antifungal agent. Although
it has long been used to treat microbial infec-
tions, there is not sufcient data to fully sup-
port its efcacy and safety in humans. Basil has
potent antimicrobial activity against P. aerug-
inosa, Bacillus pumilus and B. megaterium,
S. aureus and S. albus, M. tuberculosis, Micro-
coccus pyogenes var. aureus, Helminthosporium
spp., H. oryzae, Alternaria tenuis, A. solani,
Curvularia spp. and C. penniseli, Candida
guillermondii, Pseudomonas spp., S. aureus,
Fusarium solani, Colletotricum capsici, Ar-
throbacter globiformis, E. coli and Vibrio chol-
erae. The high concentrations of linolenic
acid in basil oil are considered to be largely
responsible for its antimicrobial activity
(Phadke and Kulkarni, 1989; Mondal et al.,
Anti-inflammatory effects
The active role of acute inammation is a
normal and protective process in helping
the body to deal with infections, tissue injury
and immune reactions. It is not un expected
that basil has been used for centuries as a
traditional method of curing inammatory
0002713920.INDD 36 4/20/2016 4:04:34 PM
Basil 37
disorders. The anti-inammatory activity of
basil is largely credited to the presence of
eugenol, which can block the activity of the
enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX). Basil ex-
tracts diminish inammation by stopping
the release of pro-inammatory cytokines
and mediators (most notably nitric oxide).
Cytokines are proteins that are passed from
one cell to another that sanction direct cell-to-
cell communication (Singh and Majumdar,
1997; Singh, 1998).
Immunomodulatory activity
Steam-distilled basil essential oil altered
the humoral immune response in albino
rats. This response could be attributed to
the discharge of mediators of hypersensi-
tivity reactions, antibody production and
tissue responses to these mediators in the
target organs. Basil bolsters the immune re-
action by improving both cellular and hu-
moral immunity (Mukherjee et al., 2005).
The immunostimulant capacity of basil ac-
counts for its adaptogenic action. Basil ale
enhanced the survival time of swimming
mice and prevented milk-induced leucocyt-
osis in mice and stress-induced ulcers in
rats. Stress is ‘non-specic result of any de-
mand upon the body’ and is experienced by
every individual. It can be either psycho-
logical or physical. Extreme stress is harm-
ful for the body and its immediate treatment
is required. Stress is also involved in the
pathogenesis of a variety of diseases, in-
cluding psychiatric disorders such as im-
munosuppression, depression and anxiety,
endocrine disorders such as diabetes melli-
tus, cognitive dysfunction, male impotence,
hypertension, peptic ulcers and ulcerative
colitis. Basil has good rejuvenating activity
and helps to reduce stress, assist the body
by improving memory and relax the mind.
The anti-hypoxic effect of basil increases
the survival time in anoxic stress. Basil re-
duced oxidative stress in a study conducted
with rabbits (Chattopadhyay et al., 1992).
Antidiabetic activity
One of the most important capabilities of
basil found in recent times is its antidia-
betic activity. The anti-glycaemic proper-
ties of basil have been reported by various
researchers but the mechanism of this ac-
tion has not yet been explained. A study
with neem (Azadirachta indica) and basil
leaves blended together showed that this
blend signicantly lowered the sugar level
in diabetic patients. Basil extract also
caused a noticeable drop of blood sugar in
normal, streptozotocin (STZ)-induced and
glucose- fed hyperglycaemic and diabetic
rats. A completely randomized, placebo-
controlled, cross-over single blind trial of
holy basil leaves in humans showed a no-
ticeable drop in postprandial and fasting
blood glucose levels of 7.3 and 17.6%, re-
spectively. A similar trend was noted in
urine glucose levels. The aldose reductase
activity of basil assists in reducing the
complications of diabetes, such as retinop-
athy, cataract, etc. (Mandal et al., 1993;
Halder et al., 2003; Kochhar et al., 2009;
Nair et al., 2009).
Antipyretic activity
The antipyretic action of basil xed oil ex-
tracted from the seeds was examined in rats
against typhoid-paratyphoid A/B vaccine-
induced pyrexia. The intraperitoneal (ip)
administration of basil xed oil signicantly
decreased the febrile response, thereby dem-
onstrating its antipyretic activity. The oil
showed comparable antipyretic activity to
aspirin at a dose of 3 ml/kg. Additionally, it
has prostaglandin inhibitory activity which
can be explained by its antipyretic activity
(Singh et al., 2007).
Anti-arthritic activity
Formaldehyde-induced arthritis in rats was
studied to evaluate the anti-arthritic activity
of basil xed oil. The xed oil signicantly
reduced inamed paw diameter. There was
conspicuous progress in the improvement
in the arthritic conditions of rats on ip dos-
age of the oil for 10 days. The anti-arthritic
effect of the basil xed oil at 3 ml/kg dose
0002713920.INDD 37 4/20/2016 4:04:34 PM
38 D. Lupton et al.
was analogous to that of aspirin at 100 mg/kg.
The oil inhibited inammatory mediators
(e.g. histamine, serotonin, prostaglandin-2
(PGE-2) and bradykinin) and carrageenan-
induced inammation. The end result sug-
gests possibly useful anti-arthritic properties
of basil oil in these inammation models
(Singh and Majumdar, 1996; Singh et al.,
Use in cardiovascular disease
The cholesterol and triglyceride-lowering
properties of basil offer potential for inhibit-
ing cardiovascular disease. The combination
of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) choles-
terol (which clogs blood vessels) and high
levels of circulating triglycerides (a fat form
in the blood) are risk factors for heart attack,
stroke and atherosclerosis. Basil extracts
slowed down platelet aggregation and throm-
bosis, suggesting their potential for stroke
prevention and heart attack (Sharma et al.,
Antioxidant activity
The unique health benets of basil are pri-
marily due to its very high antioxidant con-
tent, and the antioxidants (e.g. phytochemicals
such as phenolics and vitamins) that it con-
tains contribute to disease prevention. The
principal subtype of basil phenolics is its a-
vonoids, which include orientin and vicenin;
and the plant also contains eugenol and an-
thocyanins. The presence of anthocyanins in
purple basils is responsible for their deep
red–violet pigmentation. All of the cultivars
of purple basils contain very high antioxidant
activity due to their anthocyanin content
(Khan et al., 2008).
3.5 Summary
Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) is an annual to
perennial herb that is grown around the world
for use as a food avouring, in essential oil ap-
plications and in traditional medicinal prac-
tices. Basil contains mostly methyl chavicol
(estragole), eugenol and linalool. The amount
of each of these chemical constituents differs
depending on the type of species or cultivar
and the cultivation, such as soil type, weather,
irrigation, pruning and other horticultural
practices. Basil is a vital component of several
industrial applications, ranging from food to
cosmetics to pharmaceuticals. More uses and
applications of basil by-products are continu-
ously being added.
Basil is a key ingredient in vinegars,
oils, cheeses, jams, teas, drinks and li-
queurs. It has an extensive list of traditional
medicinal uses. The unique health benets
of basil are primarily due to its very high
antioxidant content. O. basilicum has been
utilized to treat kidney problems, gum ul-
cers, as a haemostyptic in childbirth and for
problems as diverse as malaria, arthritis, an-
orexia, menstrual irregularities and earache.
Further research on maximizing the
yield per hectare and on the optimum preser-
vation and oil extraction methods are needed,
particularly in the developing world, where
basil leaf and ower harvesting and posthar-
vest processing methods are very traditional.
The authors acknowledge Sultan Qaboos
University and The Research Council of
Oman for partially funding this work.
Agarwal, C. Sharma, N.L. and Gaurav, S.S. (2013) An analysis of basil (Ocimum sp.) to study the mor-
phological variability. Indian Journal of Fundamental and Applied Life Sciences 3, 521–525.
Aggarwal, B.B. and Shishodia, S. (2006) Molecular targets of dietary agents for prevention and therapy
of cancer. Biochemical Pharmacology 71, 1397–1421.
Al-Maskri, A.Y., Hanif, M.A., Al-Maskari, M.Y., Abraham, A.S., Al-Sabahi, J.N. and Al-Mantheri, O.
(2011) Essential oil from Ocimum basilicum (Omani Basil): a desert crop. Natural Product Com-
munications 6, 1487–1490.
0002713920.INDD 38 4/20/2016 4:04:35 PM
Basil 39
Arfat, Y.A., Benjakul, S., Prodpran, T., Sumpavapol, P. and Songtipya, P. (2014) Properties and anti-
microbial activity of sh protein isolate/sh skin gelatin lm containing basil leaf essential oil
and zinc oxide nanoparticles. Food Hydrocolloids 41, 265–273.
Askerova, A., Guseinov, I., Azimov, A., Dmitrieva, N. and Shamsizade, R. (1993) Manufacture of the
carbonated fermented milk beverage, Airan. USSR Patent, SU 1796122.
Bansod, S. and Rai, M. (2008) Antifungal activity of essential oils from Indian medicinal plants against
human pathogenic Aspergillus fumigatus and A. niger. World Journal of Medical Sciences 3,
Benedec, D., Pârvu, A.E., Oniga, I., Toiu, A. and Tiperciuc, B. (2007) Effects of Ocimum basilicum L.
extract on experimental acute inammation. Revista Medico-chirurgicala a Societatii de Medici si
Naturalisti din Iasi 111, 1065–1069.
Bilal, A., Jahan, N., Ahmed, A., Bilal, S.N., Habib, S. and Hajra, S. (2012) Phytochemical and pharma-
cological studies on Ocimum basilicum L. – a review. International Journal of Current Research
and Review 4(23), 73–83.
Boggia, R., Zunin, P., Hysenaj, V., Bottino, A. and Comite, A. (2015) Dehydration of basil leaves and
impact of processing composition. In: Preedy, V. (ed.) Processing and Impact on Active Compo-
nents in Food. Academic Press, San Diego, California, 2015, pp. 645–653.
Chattopadhyay, R.R., Sarkar, S.K., Ganguly, S., Medda, C. and Basu, T.K. (1992) Hepatoprotective
activity of O. sanctum leaf extract against paracetamol induced hepatic damage in rats. Indian
Journal of Pharmacology 24, 163.
Chiang, L.C., Ng, L.T., Cheng, P.W., Chiang, W. and Lin, C.C. (2005) Antiviral activities of extracts and
selected pure constituents of Ocimum basilicum. Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and
Physiology 32, 811–816.
Darrah, H.H. (1980) The Cultivated Basils. T.E. Thomas, Independence, Missouri.
DeBaggio, T. and Belsinger, S. (1996) Basil: An Herb Lover’s Guide. Interweave Press, Loveland, Colorado.
Denny, E.F.K. (1995) Field Distillation for Herbaceous Oils. Denny Mckenzie Associates, Lilydale, Tas-
mania, Australia.
Devi, P.U. (2001) Radioprotective, anticarcinogenic and antioxidant properties of the Indian holy basil,
Ocimum sanctum (tulasi). Indian Journal of Experimental Biology 39, 185–190.
Devi, P.U., Bisht, K. and Vinitha, M. (1998) A comparative study of radioprotection by Ocimum avonoids
and synthetic aminothiol protectors in the mouse. The British Journal of Radiology 71, 782–784.
Devi, P.U., Ganasoundari, A., Vrinda, B., Srinivasan, K. and Unnikrishnan, M. (2000) Radiation protec-
tion by the Ocimum avonoids orientin and vicenin: mechanisms of action. Radiation Research
154, 455–460.
Dymock, W., Warden, C.J.H. and Hooper, D. (2005) A History of the Principal Drugs of Vegetable Ori-
gin. Pharmacographica Indica, Vol. III. Shrishti Book Distributors, New Delhi, pp. 82–85.
Ghazanfar, S.A. and Al Sabahi, A.M.A. (1993) Medicinal plants of northern and central Oman. Eco-
nomic Botany 47, 89–98.
Ghosh, G.R. (1995) Tulasi (genus Ocimum). New Approaches to Medicine and Health (NAMAH) 3, 23–29.
Grieve, M.A. (1931) A Modern Herbal, Vol. 2. Dover, New York.
Grieve, M. and Marshall, M. (1982) A Modern Herbal: The Medicinal, Culinary, Cosmetic and Eco-
nomic Properties, Cultivation and Folk-lore of Herbs, Grasses, Fungi, Shrubs, and Trees with All
Their Modern Scientic Uses. Dover, New York.
Halder, N., Joshi, N. and Gupta, S.K. (2003) Lens aldose reductase inhibiting potential of some indigen-
ous plants. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 86, 113–116.
Hanif, M.A., Al-Maskari, M.Y., Al-Maskari, A., Al-Shukaili, A., Al-Maskari, A.Y. and Al-Sabahi, J.N.
(2011) Essential oil composition, antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of unexplored Omani
basil. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research 5, 751–757.
Hannan, J., Marenah, L., Ali, L., Rokeya, B., Flatt, P. and Abdel-Wahab, Y. (2006) Ocimum sanctum leaf
extracts stimulate insulin secretion from perfused pancreas, isolated islets and clonal pancreatic
β-cells. Journal of Endocrinology 189, 127–136.
Hiltunen, R. and Holm, Y. (eds) (1999) Basil: The Genus Ocimum. Medical and Aromatic Plants – In-
dustrial Proles Volume 10. Harwood Academic Publishers, Amsterdam.152. Also reprinted in
2003 by Taylor & Francis Group, CRC Press, Abingdon, UK.
Hosseini-Parvar, S.H., Matia-Merino, L. and Golding, M. (2015) Effect of basil seed gum (BSG) on tex-
tural, rheological and microstructural properties of model processed cheese. Food Hydrocol-
loids 44, 557–567.
0002713920.INDD 39 4/20/2016 4:04:35 PM
40 D. Lupton et al.
Jacqueline, A.S. (2001) Father Kino’s herbs: growing and using them today. Tierra Del Sol Institute
Press, Tucson, Arizona.
Karthikeyan, K., Ravichandran, P. and Govindasamy, S. (1999) Chemopreventive effect of Ocimum
sanctum on DMBA-induced hamster buccal pouch carcinogenesis. Oral Oncology 35, 112–119.
Khan, N., Afaq, F. and Mukhtar, H. (2008) Cancer chemoprevention through dietary antioxidants: pro-
gress and promise. Antioxidants and Redox Signaling 10, 475–510.
Kochhar, A., Sharma, N. and Sachdeva, R. (2009) Effect of supplementation of tulsi (Ocimum sanctum)
and neem (Azadirachta indica) leaf powder on diabetic symptoms, anthropometric parameters
and blood pressure of non-insulin dependent male diabetics. Studies on Ethno-Medicine 3, 5–9.
Lawless, J. (1992) The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils. Element Books, Rockport, Massachusetts.
Madhuri, S. (2001) Studies on oestrogen induced uterine and ovarian carcinogenesis and effect of
ProImmu in rats. PhD thesis, Rani Durgavati Vishwa Vidyalaya, Jabalpur, India.
Malik, M.S., Raque, M., Sattar, A. and Khan, S.A. (1987) The fatty acids of indigenous resources for
possible industrial applications. Part XII: the fatty acid composition of the xed oils of Ocimum
sanctum and Salvia aegyptica seeds. Pakistan Journal of Scientic and Industrial Research 30,
Malik, M.S., Sattar, A. and Khan, S.A. (1989) The fatty acids of indigenous resources from possible in-
dustrial applications. Part XVII: the fatty acid composition of the xed oils of Ocimum basilicum
and Ocimum album seeds. Pakistan Journal of Scientic and Industrial Research 32, 207–208.
Mandal, S., Das, D.N., Kamala, D., Ray, K., Roy, G., Chaudhari, S.B. and Sahana, C.C. (1993) Ocimum
sanctum Linn. – a study on gastric ulceration and gastric secretion in rats. Indian Journal of
Physiology and Pharmacology 37, 91–92.
Meyers, M. (ed.) (2003) Basil: An Herb Society of America Guide. The Herb Society of America,
Kirtland, Ohio. Available at: (accessed
14 July 2015).
Miele, M., Dondero, R., Ciarallo, G. and Mazzei, M. (2001) Methyleugenol in Ocimum basilicum L. Cv.
‘Genovese Gigante’. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 49, 517–521.
Mondal, S., Mirdha, B.R. and Mahapatra, S.C. (2009) The science behind sacredness of tulsi (Ocimum
sanctum Linn.). Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 53, 291–306.
Mukherjee, R., Das, P.K. and Ram, G.C. (2005) Immunotherapeutic potential of Ocimum sanctum Linn.
bovine subclinical mastitis. Research in Veterinary Science 79, 37–43.
Nahak, G., Mishra, R.C. and Sahu, R.K. (2011) Taxonomic distribution, medicinal properties and drug
development potentiality of Ocimum (tulsi). Drug Invention Today 3(6), 95–113.
Nair, V.D., Jaleel, C.A., Gopi, R., Gomathinayagam, M. and Panneerselvam, R. (2009) Antioxidant
potential of Ocimum sanctum under growth regulator treatments. EurAsian Journal of BioSciences
3, 1–9.
Pandey, V.N. and Dubey, N.K. (1992) Effect of essential oils from some higher plants against fungi caus-
ing damping-off disease. Biologia Plantarum 34, 143–147.
Pandey, V.N. and Dubey, N.K. (1994) Antifungal potential of leaves and essential oils from higher
plants against soil phytopathogens. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 26, 1417–1421.
Pandey, G. and Madhuri, S. (2010) Pharmacological activities of Ocimum sanctum (tulsi): a review.
International Journal of Pharmaceutical Science: Reviews and Research 5, 61–66.
Paton, A. (1992) A synopsis of Ocimum L. (Labiatae) in Africa. Kew Bulletin 47, 403–435.
Phadke, S. and Kulkarni, S. (1989) Screening of in vitro antibacterial activity of Terminalia chebula,
Eclapta alba and Ocimum sanctum. Indian Journal of Medical Sciences 43, 113–117.
Pushpangadan, P. and George, V. (2012) Basil. In: Peter, K.V. (ed.) Handbook of Herbs and Spices, 2nd
edn. Woodhead Publishing, Cambridge, UK, pp. 55–72.
Putievsky, E. and Galambosi, B. (1999) Production systems of sweet basil. In: Hiltunen, R. and Holm, Y.
(eds) Basil: The Genus Ocimum, Medical and Aromatic Plants – Industrial Proles, Volume 10.
Harwood Academic Publishers, Amsterdam, pp. 39–65.
Rai, V., Iyer, U. and Mani, U. (1997) Effect of tulasi (Ocimum sanctum) leaf powder supplementation
on blood sugar levels, serum lipids and tissues lipids in diabetic rats. Plant Foods for Human
Nutrition 50, 9–16.
Rivera Núñez, D., Matilla Séiquer, G., Obón, C. and Alcaraz Arixa, F. (2012) Plants and Humans in the
Near East and the Caucasus. Ancient and Traditional Uses of Plants as Foods and Medicine. An
Ethnobotanical Diachronic Review. Vol. 1: The Landscapes, The Plants: Ferns and Gymnosperms.
Ediciones de la Universidad de Murcia, Murcia, Spain.
0002713920.INDD 40 4/20/2016 4:04:35 PM
Basil 41
Sharma, M., Kishore, K., Gupta, S.K., Joshi, S. and Arya, D.S. (2001) Cardioprotective potential of Ocimum
sanctum in isoproterenol induced myocardial infarction in rats. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry
225, 75–83.
Simon, J.E. (1995) Basil. Newcrop factsheet. Purdue University, Centre for New Crops and Plant Products,
West Lafayette, Indiana. Available at:
basil.html (accessed 29 May 2003).
Simon, J.E., Morales, M.R., Phippen, W.B., Vieira, R. F. and Hao, Z. (1999) Basil: a source of aroma
compounds and a popular culinary and ornamental herb. In: Janick, J. (ed.) Perspectives on New
Crops and New Uses. ASHS Press, Alexandria, Virginia, pp. 499–505. Available at: https://hort. (accessed 5 February 2016).
Singh, S. (1998) Comparative evaluation of antiinammatory potential of xed oil of different species
of Ocimum and its possible mechanism of action. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology 36,
Singh, S. (1999) Evaluation of gastric anti-ulcer activity of xed oil of Ocimum basilicum Linn. and its
possible mechanism of action. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology 37, 253–257.
Singh, S. and Majumdar, D.K. (1996) Effect of xed oil of Ocimum sanctum against experimentally
induced arthritis and joint edema in laboratory animals. International Journal of Pharmaceutics
34, 218–222.
Singh, S. and Majumdar, D.K. (1997) Evaluation of antiinammatory activity of fatty acids of Ocimum
sanctum xed oil. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology 35, 380–383.
Singh, S., Taneja, M. and Majumdar, D.K. (2007) Biological activities of Ocimum sanctum L. xed oil – an
overview. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology 45, 403–412.
Somkuwar, A.P. (2003) Studies on anticancer effects of Ocimum sanctum and Withania somnifera on
experimentally induced cancer in mice. PhD thesis, Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Viswavidyalaya,
Jabalpur, India.
Srivastava, A.K. (1980) French Basil and Its Cultivation in India. Farm Bulletin No. 16. Central Institute
Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Lucknow, India.
Svecova, E. and Neugebauerova, J. (2010) A study of 34 cultivars of basil (Ocimum L.) and their morpho-
logical, economic and biochemical characteristics, using standardized descriptors. Acta Universitatis
Sapientiae, Alimentaria 3, 118–135.
Tewari, D., Pandey, H.K., Sah, A.N., Meena, H.S., Manchanda, A. and Patni, P. (2012) Pharmacognos-
tical, biochemical and elemental investigation of Ocimum basilicum plants available in western
Himalayas. International Journal of Research in Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences 3,
Tilebeni, H.G. (2011) Review to basil medicinal plant. International Journal of Agronomy and Plant
Production 2, 5–9.
Tucker, A.O. and DeBaggio, T. (2000) The Big Book of Herbs: A Comprehensive Illustrated Reference to
Herbs of Flavor and Fragrance. Interweave Press, Loveland, Colorado.
Wijesekera, R.O.B. (1986) Practical Manual on the Essential Oils Industry. United Nations Industrial
Development Organization, Vienna.
0002713920.INDD 41 4/20/2016 4:04:35 PM
... Basil leaves in general are used as one of the constituents for making soap bars. Dried leaf extract of basil leaves consists of anti-acne properties, besides, providing nourishment and moisture to the skin [9]. ...
Full-text available
Soaps are used widely by humans in many aspects. Exclusively, the emergence of the SARS-Cov-2 virus made people wash their hands frequently to disinfect the virus to prevent virus infection. Soaps made of herbals possess constituents that goodness the skin as well to rejuvenate the mind and body factors. Dried leaves of Basil, Neem and Acalypha Indica, Aloe vera, and Hibiscus flower are used here to prepare homemade soap. The steam distillation process is an imperative process by which the oils are used from raw materials like dried leaves for the preparation of soaps. Extracts obtained from the herbal plants are used as additives in the preparation of soap that would be added besides the lye and other constituents. Lye preferred here is Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) and the cast shapes utilized here in determining the soap shape are Elliptic and Rectangle. pH value, the total fatty matter is determined using respective methodologies, and the materials used in the preparation of soap are estimated using the accessible software called SoapCalc Recipe Calculator. Soaps made using the mentioned ingredients are safe and robust for cleaning the skin and hands.
... Phenolic compounds of spices and herbs offer better antioxidant stability, and contribute to the nutritional value, sensory properties, and prolongation of the oil's shelf life. They play an important role in human health due to their anti-inflammatory, antiallergic, antimicrobial, antitumor, and antiviral activities [24,59,60]. The content and composition of phenolic compounds in the flaxseed oil samples infused with spices and herbs are shown in Table 1 at the beginning of storage, and after 120 and 180 days of storage. ...
Full-text available
In our study, we assessed whether the addition of basil, fennel, oregano, rosemary, and chili can improve oxidative stability and sensory properties of flaxseed oil (FO) during 180 days of storage or induce oil contamination by microorganisms. Results showed that addition of spices and herbs in FO affected the hydrolytic changes, but far less than 2% of free fatty acids after storage, which was in line with regulations. Further, the addition of spices and herbs in FO decreased peroxide value (even up to 68.7% in FO with oregano) vs. FO whose value increased during storage, indicating increased oxidative stability and prolongation of shelf life of infused oils. The antioxidant activity of the infused oils ranged from 56.40% to 97.66%. In addition, the phenol content was higher in all infused oils (6.81–22.92 mg/kg) vs. FO (5.44 mg/kg), indicating that herbs and spices could scavenge free radicals and inhibit lipid peroxidation, while sensory analysts showed that FO infused with chili had the lowest bitterness intensity. According to the presence of certain microorganisms, results highlighted the need to develop new methods for inactivating microorganisms that would not only provide a microbial safety, but also preserve the beneficial properties of the oils/products.
... Basil develops a distinctive and unmistakable scent via oil glands on the leaves and is considered one of the most versatile herbs [7]. As a medicinal herb or as an important ingredient in the kitchen, basil has become, dried or fresh, a part of almost all cultures [8][9][10]. The demand for basil is very high among aquaponics and hydroponics producer groups [11]. ...
Full-text available
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) was cultivated in Rostock, Northern Germany, in a decoupled aquaponic system with African catfish (Clarias gariepinus) under intensive rearing conditions by using three hydroponic components, the dynamic root floating technique (DRF), the raft technique, and grow pipes. A 25% of the recommended feed input still allowed African catfish growth and provided adequate nitrogen and calcium levels in the process water. After 36 days, the plants were examined with respect to 16 different growth parameters. DRF performed significantly better than raft and/or grow pipes in 11 parameters. Total weight of basil was significantly higher in DRF (107.70 ± 34.03 g) compared with raft (82.02 ± 22.74 g) and grow pipes (77.86 ± 23.93 g). The economically important leaf biomass was significantly higher in wet and dry weight under DRF cultivation (45.36 ± 13.53 g; 4.96 ± 1.57 g) compared with raft (34.94 ± 9.44 g; 3.74 ± 1.04 g) and grow pipes (32.74 ± 9.84 g; 3.75 ± 1.22 g). Two main factors limited plant growth: an unbalanced nutrient concentration ratio and high water temperatures with an average of 28 °C (max 34.4 °C), which resulted in reduced root activity in raft and grow pipes. DRF was able to maintain root activity through the 5 cm air space between the shoots and the nutrient solution and thus produced significantly more biomass. This suggests DRF to be used for basil aquaponics under glass house conditions with high-temperature scenarios. Future studies are needed to optimize nutrient loads and examine systems with the plant roots exposed to air (Aeroponics).
Solar-operated distillation unit (SDU) was designed and fabricated for extraction of valuable essentials from aromatic crops with a reduced cost of operation without carbon-credits to the environment. It comprised of distillation still, mesh grid frame, packed column, condenser, oil receiver, energy meter, resistive heating elements, and solar panels. This improved SDU can process 20 kg of aromatic crops in a batch type of operation. Resistive heating elements (4.5kW) with controllers powered by the solar photovoltaic panel (5kW) were used to produce the uniform steam generation within 20 min. This produced steam was adequate for continuous distillation (∼3 h) of aromatic crops to collect valuable essentials in an oil receiver. The total power consumed by the SDU in carrying out the distillation operation was calculated (13.5kWh). The extraction studies of Ocimum cultivars (CIM-Shishir, 100 and 102) through SDU and Clevenger-type apparatus (standard set) revealed that the SDU process was yielded improved essential oil (0.36–0.73%). GC-FID and GC/MS analyses divulged that the essential oil obtained through SDU was superior in quality with improved percentage of biomarkers such as linalool (upto 62.8%) and methyl chavicol. Designed SDU has saved about 20 kg of wood per batch as compared to practiced wood-based distillation operation.
Full-text available
Kaempferol (KA) is a natural flavonol that can be found in plants and plant-derived foods with a plethora of different pharmacological properties. In the current study, we developed an efficient extraction method for the isolation of KA from ultrasonicated basil leaves (Ocimum basilicum). We successfully employed a Box-Behnken design (BBD) in order to investigate the effect of different extraction variables including methanol concentration (40-80%), extraction temperature (40-60 • C), and extraction time (5-15 min). The quantification of KA yield was carried out by employing a validated densitometric high performance thin layer chromatography in connection with ultraviolet detection (HPTLC-VIS). The obtained data showed that the quadratic polynomial model (R 2 = 0.98) was the most appropriate. The optimized ultrasonic extraction yielded 94.7 ng/spot of KA when using methanol (79.99%) at 60 • C for 5 min. When using toluene-ethyl acetate-formic acid (70:30:1 v/v/v) as a solvent, KA was detected in basil leaves at an Retention factor (Rf) value of 0.26 at 330 nm. Notably, the analytical method was successfully validated with a linear regression of R 2 = 0.99, which reflected a good linear relationship. The developed HPTLC-VIS method in this study was precise, accurate, and robust due to the lower obtained results from both the percent relative standard deviation (%RSD) and SEM of the O. basilicum. The antioxidant activity of KA (half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC 50) = 0.68 µg/mL) was higher than that of the reference ascorbic acid (IC 50 = 0.79 µg/mL) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) (IC 50 = 0.88 µg/mL). The development of economical and efficient techniques is very important for the extraction and quantification of important pharmaceutical compounds such as KA.
Both consumers and the food industry are increasingly interested in aromatic herbs, not only as flavoring agents, but also for their content in biologically active compounds. Sweet basil (. Ocimum basilicum L.) is a very important culinary herb and a functional ingredient marketed fresh, dried, or frozen. At present, drying is by far the most widely used basil preservation method, thus ensuring microbiological safety and extending basil shelf-life. Nevertheless, during drying, a series of physical and chemical changes that may have an adverse effect on basil quality may take place. Such alterations include changes in its flavor and appearance, mainly caused by the loss of volatile components and the formation of new compounds. Both these aspects are important quality factors with a deep impact on the consumers' acceptance of the product. In this chapter the most commonly used drying methods are described and their impact on the sensorial and nutritional properties of this raw material are analyzed.