Basil essential oil has many uses in aromatherapy. Like all essential oils, basil is volatile, concentrated aromatic oil that is used in aromatherapy or perfumery. The essential oil is extracted by steam distillation from the flowers and the leaves of the basil plant (Ocimum basilicum). It has an herbaceous, slightly sweet and piercing scent that is easy to recognise even in a blend of several oils.
Basil oil has a variety of properties, but one of its main effects is its ability to energize and clear the mind. Inhaling a drop of basil oil from a tissue or burning a couple of drops in an essential oil burner or vaporizer can help to stimulate the brain, energize the mind and to clear the mental cobwebs. This oil is perfect for students who need to read for an exam, and can be helpful for anyone who has to focus on reading or writing for long periods of time. It works especially well for this purpose if blended with rosemary essential oil (Rosmarinus officinalis), another oil with a mentally stimulating effect.
Basil is also sometimes added to massage oil blends for aching or tired muscles. It can be blended with rosemary and/or lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) to relieve aches and pains and to invigorate the body and the mind. A very small amount of basil oil can be applied on the temples to relieve a headache (preferably diluted in a base oil).
To make an effective massage blend to stimulate circulation, to relieve muscular aches and pains, to re-energize after exercise or to boost energy during times of stress, try the following recipe:
Blend the essential oils into the base oil and use for a back massage or add into a bath. These recipes make enough oil for one back massage or one bath, but if you need more, simply multiply the amounts. 25 ml of base oil is usually enough for a full-body massage.
If you have caught a cold or are simply feeling a little run-down, basil is a good oil to have in the cupboard. It can clear a stuffy nose and it can relieve coughs and other respiratory infections, including bronchitis. It is antibacterial and expectorant, and can be used in a steam inhalation to help to expel mucus from the lungs and to fight infections.
To prepare a steam inhalation, add a couple of drops of basil oil to a bowl of hot water and place your head above the steaming water (close enough to be able to inhale the steam but not so close that you burn your face). Cover your head and the bowl with a towel to create a homemade facial sauna. Inhale the hot steam for several minutes. The vapors from the essential oil will open up congested nasal passages, get rid of bacteria and it will relieve coughs. You can easily do a steam inhalation two or three times a day as long as your cold or cough symptoms persist.
Because of its antibacterial, energizing and stimulating properties, basil is excellent oil for anyone recovering from a long illness. Once again, it can be used together with rosemary in a massage blend to stimulate the body and the mind. Anyone feeling low in energy, stressed out or exhausted from working too hard can also benefit from a massage with basil and rosemary.
Basil oil can irritate the skin and should always be diluted into a base oil. Suitable base oils include most cold-pressed vegetable oils: sweet almond, peach or apricot kernel, sunflower, sesame and jojoba. A typical dilution for adults is 3 drops of essential oil to 5 ml of base oil. Since basil is a strong oil with an overpowering scent, one drop in 5 ml of base oil is often enough.
When blending basil with other essential oils, use one drop of basil and two drops of the other oil(s) for each 5 ml of base oil. Basil has a strong scent, and when blended with other essential oils it usually dominates the blend. Even if it is diluted, using basil in a bath can cause a stinging or a tingling effect on the skin. If your skin is sensitive, try the oil blend on a small patch of skin first before using in a bath or a massage.
Basil essential oil should not be used during pregnancy as it can bring on a period. It is not suitable for young children. All essential oils should be diluted into a base oil before using directly on the skin, especially if your skin is sensitive or if you are trying an oil you have not used before. Anyone suffering from any serious health conditions should talk to a qualified aromatherapist or a health care practitioner before using essential oils. Essential oils should never be taken internally.
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