The following section is by no means an exhaustive one, but aims to include the most popular oils readily available today. Similarly, whilst therapeutic uses have been suggested, therapists will differ in the choice of oils for particular complaints, just as a general practitioner may prescribe one remedy for a specific compliant, whereas his partner in the same practice may favour another treatment for the same complaint.
Basil is now grown in many countries of the world although it originates from Africa. The herb has a long history of medicinal and culinary use, and was familiar to the Ancient Egyptian and Greek civilizations. Basil is sacred in the Hindu religion and has many medicinal uses in India and other Eastern countries. The whole plant is subjected to a process of steam distillation to obtain the essential oil used in aromatherapy. Basil is valued for its soothing and uplifting effects – its sweet, liquorice-like fragrance alleviates fatigue and depression and has a general tonic effect. Basil has a refreshing, invigorating effect and also has antiseptic properties. It can be effective in treating respiratory infections such as colds, bronchitis, asthma and sinusitis. It can also alleviate he symptoms of fever, gout and indigestion. It seems to be equally effective in relieving tired and over-worked muscles and is widely used in baths, inhalation and massage. Its strongly antiseptic effect sooths skin abrasions and assists the healing process. It also has insect repellent qualities. As a digestive aid, basil’s antispasmodic effect has made it a favoured herb in cookery throughout the ages.
Basil should be avoided during pregnancy. It can also have a depressant effect, so it should be used in moderation. It is relatively non-toxic, but should be well diluted to avoid possible skin irritation.