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Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • 2,4-diisopropenyl-1-methyl-1-vinylcyclohexane, 2,6-dimethyl-diethyl ester (2.01%), 3,5-pyridine-dicarboxylic acid, 3-epimaslinic acid, 4'-carbomethoxy-2'-hydroxy phenyl ferulate, alpha-cadinol, alpha-terpineol, alphitolic acid, anise, anthocyanins, apigenin, basil, basil oil, basilimoside, basilol, benzyl ether, bergamotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, beta-cubene, beta-guaiene, betulinic acid, bush, cadinene, caffeic acid, calcium, cinnamon, citral, common basil, cyclohexene, dark opal, dried basil, (E)-3'-hydroxy-4'-(1''-hydroxyethyl)-phenyl-4-methoxycinnamate, (E)-cinnamic acid methyl ester, estragol, estragole, eugenol, euscaphic acid, genovese, geraniol, green basil, guaia-1(10),11-diene, Lamiaceae (family), lemon basil, linalol, linalool, linoleic acid, linolen, lutein plus zeaxanthin, magnesium, methyl chavicol, methyl eugenol, methylchavicol, methylchavikol, methylcinnamate, methyleugenol, monoterpenes, nepetoidin A, nepetoidin B, Nepetoideae, ocimol, Ocimum, Ocimum basilicum, Ocimum basilicum 'cinnamon', Ocimum basilicum 'Genovese Gigante', Ocimum basilicum L., Ocimum basilicum L. var. Genovese, Ocimum basilicum Linn.var. pilosum (Willd.) Benth., Ocimum basilicum var. citratum, Ocimum basilicum var. minimum, Ocimum basilicum var. purpurascens Benth., Ocimum campechianum Mill., Ocimum gratissimum L., Ocimum micranthum Willd., oleanolic acid, oleic acid, phenylpropane derivatives, purple basil, quinone radicals, rosmarinic acid, sesquiterpenes, sterols, sugar-bound monoterpenes, sweet dani cultivar, sweet Thai, Thai basil, triterpene acids, triterpenes, tulsi, ursolic acid, vaccenic acid, Wild Amazonian basil, xyloglucans, (Z)-cinnamic acid methyl ester.
  • Combination product examples: Omegacoeur® (omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids, garlic, and basil).
  • Note: Ocimum basilicum (sweet basil) should not be confused with the different species Ocimum americanum (lime basil and some of the lemon basils), Ocimum tenuiflorum (holy basil), or with Ocimum gratissimum (African basil).

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a commonly used medicinal herb in Thailand, India, and Turkey and has been used as a spice in cooking. A constituent, estragole, is naturally found in sweet basil and is used in fragrances and flavorings (1;2). Although preliminary laboratory study has found estragole to be carcinogenic, there is inconclusive evidence suggesting carcinogenicity of sweet basil in humans.
  • Currently, there is insufficient evidence in humans to support the use of sweet basil for any indication. Side effects are rarely reported in the available literature and, aside from allergy and contamination with cyclosporiasis, sweet basil appears safe in food amounts.
  • Laboratory studies have investigated sweet basil for its antiviral, antiproliferative, and antibacterial effects. However, current studies have not investigated sweet basil in humans for these effects. Future research may be warranted in these areas, based on traditional uses.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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References

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.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.