Disclaimer: This monograph was created as a deliverable for my HRB 690 Internship with the National Arboretum. This monograph illustrates research, analysis, and writing skills. I was very proud of my work, however, I received feedback that I needed to use more rigorous academic sources as the basis for the monograph. I have chosen to include it here to illustrate the need for continual growth and improvement. As a result of that feedback, I developed a deeper understanding of the rigor and integrity involved in constructing an herbal monograph.
Lamiaceae (formerly Labiatae)
Leaves, flowers, and essential oil.
Identification of Genus/Species
|Stem||Grows 3 feet high. Obtusely quadrangular.|
|Leaves||Leaves grow opposite, are 2 to 3 inches long, oval, and bright green.|
|Flowers||Flowers are white or pink whorls|
|Taste||Pleasant, strong, and peppery|
Sweet basil, ocimum basilicum, is an annual herb that is very easy to grow. It prefers light, well-drained soil in warm climates with full sun. It will also grow in a container. The top shoots should be clipped to promote fuller, healthier growth. Cuttings can be rooted in water and grown in pots indoors.
Optimal harvest is just before the blooms open.
The exact chemical profile of basil depends on the particular cultivar. Sweet basil contains many chemical compounds in the essential oil: estragole, methyl cinnamate, ocimene, cineole, linalool, thymol, and camphor. The leaves contain tannins, vitamins, and minerals, such as calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, B2, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C.
Analgesic, antibacterial, antiflatulent, antifungal, antiemetic, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antispasmodic, antivenom, antiviral anxiolytic, circulatory stimulant, digestive, diuretic, galactagogue, hepatoprotective, hypoglycemic, insecticide, kidney tonic, nervine, orexigenic, sedative.
Basil has both topical and internal use. Taken orally, basil helps with digestive issues, stomach spasms, kidney issues, and blood sugar issues. Multiple Ocimum species have exhibited a hypoglycemic effect. Basil may also help with headaches, appetite stimulation, circulation, and fevers.
Topically, basil can be used for bites, stings, and may be helpful for acne. Basil can be used as an astringent mouthwash.
Basil essential oil exhibits antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties, making it useful for cleaning and disinfecting.
Contraindications & Side Effects
Basil essential oil is not safe while pregnant, breastfeeding, or lactating. Sweet basil should not be consumed in doses higher than a culinary dose while pregnant, breastfeeding, or lactating and should be avoided entirely by infants and toddlers.
Basil should be avoided by those with an allergy to the Lamiaceae/Labiate families.
There are very few adverse effects reported. Those with allergies to the Lamiaceae/Labiate families could have an allergic reaction to basil.
Infusion: 1 cup of tea
Essential Oil: 1 drop
Tincture: 4 millimeters
Fluid Extract: 2 millimeters
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Easley,T. and Horne,S. (2016). The modern herbal dispensatory: A medicine-making guide. Berkeley, CA. North Atlantic Books
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Petersen, D. (2015). Herb 201 Herbal Studies. Portland, OR: American College of Healthcare Sciences
Weiss, R., & Fintelmann, V. (2000). Herbal Medicine (2nd ed.). Stuttgart: Thieme