What kind of Basil Essential Oil is lurking in your bottle – and why it matters…

When you purchase Basil essential oil, do you know which kind you are getting? Does the bottle provide you with the Latin name? Does it indicate which chemotype?

If you are not told any more information than just “Basil,” you are likely purchasing the most common – and potentially carcinogenic – Basil high in estragole.

Safety of Different Basil Essential Oils

Basil ct linalool – Ocimum basilicum ct linalool

Contains 53.7% – 58.3% linalool and 9.4% – 15.2% eugenol, and has a topical max level of 3.3% (source).

Basil – Ocimum basilicum ct estragole

Potentially carcinogenic (source) due to high levels of estragole and methyleugenol. This particular chemotype contains between 73.4% and 87.4% estragole and up to 4.2% methyleugenol. Due to this the max dermal use level is suggested to stay at 0.1%, and never taken orally.

Hairy Basil (Hoary Basil) – Ocimum americanum var pilosum

Only trace amounts of estragole. Its primary constituent is linalool, at 31.7 – 50.1%, with terpinen-4-ol as high as 26.8%. Max dermal use level of 30% (source).

Holy Basil – Ocimum tenuiflorum synonym Ocimum sanctum

Contains anywhere between 31.9% – 50.4% eugenol. It does contain estragole at a level of 9.7% – 12.9% and thus has a topical max level of 1.0% (source).

Lemon Basil – Ocimum x citriodorum

Key constituents of geranial (23.3% – 25.1%) and neral (16% – 17.1%) make this essential oil's topical max 1.4% (source).

Madagascan Basil – Osimum gratissimum synonym Ocimum viride

Contains 45% – 50% estragole and 24% – 30% camphor, and thus has a topical max of 0.2%, and should not be used orally (source).

Basil ct methyl cinnamate – Ocimum basilicum ct methyl cinnamate

Comprised of 58% – 63.1% methyl cinnamate and 17.3% – 27.3% linalool and has a topical max of 15% (source).

Pungent Basil (Shrubby/Tree/Russian/East Indian) – Ocimum gratissimum synonym Ocimum viride

Has 62.9% eugenol. Topical max is 0.8% (source).

Did you notice that they have widely varying max dermal use levels? Safe topical usage varies from 0.2% right up to 30%.

Did you also spot that Madagascan Basil and Pungent Basil have the same Latin name? This is where Latin names can sometimes not be enough information. In order to tell which one is high in estragole and which is high in eugenol we need access to the GC/MS report for that oil. It would be wonderful if each company listed these right on their websites.

If your bottle does not say, check out the website and see if they tell you there. If not, call them up and ask them! Unfortunately, they might not even know. It’s possible their supplier is selling it to them as “Basil” with no further information. Let your company know why you want to know.

So what kind of Basil do you have?

Looking for more information on Basil essential oil? Find the free class here: freeEOclass.com

Lea Jacobson is a Certified Clinical Aromatherapist Scholar's Program graduate from Aromahead Institute. This website is home to educational advice and empowering information about using essential oils safely. The Using Essential Oils Safely facebook group founded and run by Lea and her team has over 140,000 members and hundreds of new members joining each week. Lea is the author of her bestseller Essential Oil Profiles (available as a full color print book as well as an ebook). Based off the information in the popular Top 60 Essential Oils APP, the print version has sold out in days each time it's been offered. Other books by Lea: The TRUTH About Essential Oil Safety, and the Hydrosols Quick Start Guide.

Lea is the creator of Safe Essential Oil Labels, designed to wrap around any size or brand bottle, as well as apps for essential oils and carriers, and hydrosols.

You can find FREE classes here: Free Essential Oil Classes, and sign up for the Using Essential Oils Safely BASICS course Lea teaches where you can earn your "Essential Oil Safety Advocate" title.

Lea is Professional level member of the Alliance of International Aromatherapists and received her herbalist certification through The Herbal Academy of New England.

Businesses, groups, and individuals can hire Lea to consult on safety, product formulation, and more on her website Lea Jacobson CCA.

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