Progress in Essential Oils: Basil Oil, Part 1

Contact Author Brian Lawrence
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The present article is part one in a series of two that provides the findings of various researchers on the chemical constituents in basil oil. Part 2 appears in the June 2014 edition.

Basil oil is obtained by steam and water or steam distillation from Ocimum basilicum L., a tender, aromatic, annual herbaceous member of the Lamiaceae that is thought to originate from tropical Asia (Paton and Putievsky, 1996). Although the center of diversity of basil is not known, it is widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical countries such as Comoro Islands, India, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam, etc.; Mediterranean region climates such as Egypt, Israel, Italy, Turkey, United States, etc.; and temperate countries such as France, Hungary, Poland, etc. Basil is grown throughout the world as both a culinary herb and for use in traditional medicine.

Its cultivation has taken place for more than 2,500 years. As a result, various cultivars have been selected based on its morphological traits, as well as its aromatic properties (Darrah, 1974). They can be categorized as: Group 1. large green leaf types; Group 2. large-medium-sized purple leaf types; Group 3. medium-sized green leaf types; Group 4. compact flower types; Group 5. Purple stem types; and Group 6. Colored flower types. A summary of their components found by various researchers are detailed here.