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Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Generic Name: Ocimum basilicum

Category

Herbs & Supplements

Synonyms

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.

Background

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.

Evidence

DISCLAIMER: 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.

Tradition

WARNING: 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).

Dosing

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.

Safety

DISCLAIMER: 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.

Allergies

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.

Cow's urine concoction (CUC) is prepared from leaves of tobacco, garlic, basil, lemon juice, rock salt, and bulbs of onion and is thought to be toxic.

Use cautiously in patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as amounts higher than food amounts have not been fully investigated.

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.

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