The Benefits of Basil Essential Oil

Basil essential oil is a type of essential oil commonly used in aromatherapy. Sourced from the Ocimum basilicum plant, basil essential oil is said to offer a variety of health benefits.

Basil plant
Kristin Duvall / Getty Images

Basil essential oil contains a number of compounds thought to enhance health. These compounds include linalool, a substance also found in lavender that's been shown to reduce stress in several scientific studies.

How Does It Work?

In aromatherapy, inhaling the aroma of basil essential oil (or absorbing basil essential oil through the skin) is thought to transmit messages to a brain region involved in controlling emotions.

Known as the limbic system, this brain region also influences the nervous system. Aromatherapy proponents suggest that essential oils may affect a number of biological factors, including heart rate, stress levels, blood pressure, breathing, and immune function.


In alternative medicine, basil essential oil is typically used for the following health problems:

In addition, basil essential oil is said to enhance mood, improve digestion, increase alertness, and soothe muscle aches.

Basil essential oil is also sometimes used as an insect repellent.

Health Benefits

Preliminary research suggests that basil essential oil may offer certain health benefits. For example, several laboratory studies published in 2003 to 2012 indicate that basil essential oil may possess anti-cancer, anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties. However, it's important to note these studies did not involve humans.

In addition, a study published in the journal Biomedica suggests that basil essential oil may aid in the treatment of acne.

For the study, 28 people with acne were assigned to eight weeks of treatment with one of four formulations:

  • A blend of orange and basil essential oils
  • Essential oils mixed with acetic acid (a compound sometimes used as an ingredient in skincare products)
  • Keratolytic medication (a type of medicine designed to remove lesions from the skin)
  • Keratolytic medication with acetic acid

By the study's end, all groups showed improvements in acne. The greatest improvements were seen in patients treated with the acetic acid mixtures.

It's important to note that none of these studies tested the aromatherapeutic use of basil essential oil and that more research is needed before basil essential oil can be recommended in the treatment of any health condition.

How to Use It

When combined with a carrier oil (such as jojoba, sweet almond, or avocado), basil essential oil can be applied directly to the skin or added to baths.

Basil essential oil also can be inhaled after sprinkling a few drops of the oil onto a cloth or tissue or through use of an aromatherapy diffuser or vaporizer.


Basil essential oil should not be taken internally without the supervision of a health professional. Internal use of basil essential oil may have toxic effects.

In addition, some individuals may experience irritation when applying essential oils to the skin. A skin patch test should be done before using any new essential oil.

The oil should not be applied at full-strength to the skin or used in excessive amounts.

Pregnant women and children should consult their primary health care providers prior to using essential oils.


A number of essential oils may possess health effects similar to the purported benefits of basil essential oil. For example, the following oils have all been found to promote relaxation in scientific studies:

Where to Find It

Widely available for purchase online, basil essential oil is sold in many natural-foods stores and in stores specializing in self-care products.

Using It for Health

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend basil essential oil as a treatment for any condition. It's also important to note that self-treating a chronic condition with basil essential oil and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. 

If you're considering using basil essential oil for any health purpose, make sure to consult your physician first.

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Article Sources
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