Drugs A - Z
Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Generic Name: Ocimum basilicum
CategoryHerbs & Supplements
Apigenin, basil, citral, common basil, estragole, eugenol, geraniol, Lamiaceae (family), linalol, linolen, methylchavikol, methylcinnamat, Ocimum, Ocimum basilicum, Ocimum basilicum var. citratum, rosmarinic acid, Thai basil, ursolic acid.
Sweet basil (Ocimum basilica) is a commonly used medicinal herb in Thailand, India, and Turkey and has been used as a spice in cooking. The constituent, estragole, is naturally found in sweet basil and is used in fragrances and flavorings. Although laboratory study has found that estragole may be associated with cancer, human study is lacking.
Laboratory studies have investigated sweet basil for its antiviral, anti-cancer, and antibacterial effects. However, currently, there is not enough evidence in humans to support the use of sweet basil for any indication. Side effects are rarely reported, aside from allergy and contamination. Sweet basil appears safe in food amounts.
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Acne, aging, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiviral, cancer, cardiovascular risk reduction, chronic bronchitis, dental conditions, HIV/AIDS, spermicide (kills sperm).
Adults (over 18 years old)
There is no proven effective dose for sweet basil in adults; sweet basil is generally considered safe in amounts found in food after proper washing.
Children (under 18 years old)
There is no proven effective dose for sweet basil in children; sweet basil is generally considered safe in amounts found in food after proper washing.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to sweet basil, its constituents, or members of the Lamiaceae/Labiatae family, such as hyssop, marjoram, mint, sage, lavender, oregano, or thyme.
Side Effects and Warnings
Sweet basil is likely safe when used in amounts commonly found in foods in non-allergic people. However, fresh basil may carry pathogens; fresh sweet basil should always be washed before use.
Based on laboratory study, estragole, a constituent of sweet basil, may cause liver damage.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Sweet basil is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence in amounts higher than those found in food. Based on laboratory study, sweet basil may be a potent spermicide (kills sperm) in humans.
Interactions with Drugs
Sweet basil may interfere with drugs broken down by the liver.
Interactions with Herbs & Dietary Supplements
Sweet basil may have antibacterial effects, antioxidant effects, anti-cancer activity, and antiviral effects. Use cautiously with herbs and supplement with similar effects.
Sweet basil may interact with herbs and supplements broken down by the liver.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature, and was peer-reviewed and edited by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Dawn Costa, BA, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Nicole Giese, MS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Emily Kyomitmaitee, PharmD (University of Rhode Island); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD Massachusetts General Hospital); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).
BibliographyDISCLAIMER: Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Chiang LC, Ng LT, Cheng PW, et al. Antiviral activities of extracts and selected pure constituents of Ocimum basilicum. Clin Exp.Pharmacol.Physiol 2005;32(10):811-816.
Erler F, Ulug I, Yalcinkaya B. Repellent activity of five essential oils against Culex pipiens. Fitoterapia 2006;77(7-8):491-494.
Esiyok D, Otles S, Akcicek E. Herbs as a food source in Turkey. Asian Pac.J Cancer Prev. 2004;5(3):334-339.
Hoang LM, Fyfe M, Ong C, et al. Outbreak of cyclosporiasis in British Columbia associated with imported Thai basil. Epidemiol.Infect. 2005;133(1):23-27.
Hsu WY, Simonne A, Jitareerat P. Fates of seeded Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella on selected fresh culinary herbs during refrigerated storage. J Food Prot. 2006;69(8):1997-2001.
Imoberdorf R, Ruhlin M, Ballmer PE. [Eating and drinking during aging]. Ther Umsch. 2005;62(12):847-851.
Iten F, Saller R. [Fennel tea: risk assessment of the phytogenic monosubstance estragole in comparison to the natural multicomponent mixture]. Forsch.Komplementarmed.Klass.Naturheilkd. 2004;11(2):104-108.
Lalko J, Api AM. Investigation of the dermal sensitization potential of various essential oils in the local lymph node assay. Food Chem Toxicol 2006;44(5):739-746.
Manosroi J, Dhumtanom P, Manosroi A. Anti-proliferative activity of essential oil extracted from Thai medicinal plants on KB and P388 cell lines. Cancer Lett 4-8-2006;235(1):114-120.
Niture SK, Rao US, Srivenugopal KS. Chemopreventative strategies targeting the MGMT repair protein: augmented expression in human lymphocytes and tumor cells by ethanolic and aqueous extracts of several Indian medicinal plants. Int J Oncol. 2006;29(5):1269-1278.
Opalchenova G, Obreshkova D. Comparative studies on the activity of basil--an essential oil from Ocimum basilicum L.--against multidrug resistant clinical isolates of the genera Staphylococcus, Enterococcus and Pseudomonas by using different test methods. J.Microbiol.Methods 2003;54(1):105-110.
Rady MR, Nazif NM. Rosmarinic acid content and RAPD analysis of in vitro regenerated basil (Ocimum americanum) plants. Fitoterapia 2005;76(6):525-533.
Renzulli C, Galvano F, Pierdomenico L, et al. Effects of rosmarinic acid against aflatoxin B1 and ochratoxin-A-induced cell damage in a human hepatoma cell line (Hep G2). J Appl Toxicol 2004;24(4):289-296.
Wannissorn B, Jarikasem S, Siriwangchai T, et al. Antibacterial properties of essential oils from Thai medicinal plants. Fitoterapia 2005;76(2):233-236.
Yano Y, Satomi M, Oikawa H. Antimicrobial effect of spices and herbs on Vibrio parahaemolyticus. Int J Food Microbiol 8-15-2006;111(1):6-11.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.