Basil(Ocimum) is a genus of herbaceous plants from the Labiateae family of about 35 species. They are found mainly in tropical and subtropical zones of Asia and Africa. The utility species is mainly common basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) which in Poland is a domestic anthropophyte, i.e. a species of plants of foreign origin that occurs in a given area due to human activity.


Basil contains many different chemical compounds with potential healing effects. These are mainly tannins, essential oils, flavonoids, saponins and also organic acids (e.g. rosemary, coffee). The oil is dominated by estragole, linalool and cineole.


Basil herb, due to the content of the above-mentioned compounds, has a choleretic effect, stimulating the secretion of gastric juices and saliva. In addition, it helps to clear the respiratory tract of residual secretions and increases diuresis, which may help reduce congestive oedema.


The herb of basil (Basilicy herba) was described in the monograph No. 54 published by the European Commission in 1992. The published information shows that basil exhibits antibacterial properties in vitro. Moreover, it is a digestive, appetite suppressant and diuretic, but its effectiveness in the above indications has not been sufficiently proven. The final verdict of the Commission says that as efficacy in the indicated ranges of use is not proven and taking into account the risk, therapeutic use cannot be approved. There are no objections to use as an aroma and taste improving agent in an amount of up to 5% in preparations.

Basil in the kitchen

Today, basil is used almost exclusively as a cooking spice. It is one of the main ingredients (next to olive oil, pine nuts and Parmesan) in Italian pesto sauce. In addition, it is added to meats, creams, casseroles and even ice cream and a number of other dishes. It is difficult to imagine, for example, tomatoes with mozzarella without the addition of fresh basil leaves.

AUTHOR: Dr n. farm. Andrzej Tarasiuk