Basil Essential Oil: for memory and concentration
by Tonya Banbury
Years ago, a friend shared her pesto recipe with me. Since that time, I learned growing Basil for this and other dishes is one of the great joys of summer. So you can imagine my confusion when my massage therapist recently mentioned she was using Basil essential oil to improve my concentration. As a post-menopausal woman who sometimes struggles with disorganized thinking, that was music to my ears. I figured I needed a gallon of this stuff, right!
1 Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt, Advanced Aromatherapy: The Science of Essential Oil Therapy
2 Stephanie Tourles, Organic Body Care Recipes, Emily Via, www.eoils.net
Sweet Basil, Ocimum basilicum, is another one of those complex plants that is characterized by different chemotypes, depending on the region in which it’s grown. EO from plants growing on islands in the Indian Ocean is referred to as exotic Basil oil that is used as an antispasmodic; this means it has a balancing effect on the autonomic nervous system, including the digestive tract. Used as an inhalant, this is the characteristic that improves memory and concentration, soothes stresses and fatigue. In England, this chemotype has been used in massage oil to treat shingles and revive bedridden elderly patients.
“French aromatherapy literature recommends it for Hepatitis A, B, non-A, non-B and C, as well as yellow fever and tropical viral infections.”1The Basil with which we’re most familiar comes from Europe and has a fresh spicy-sweet “green” scent that’s very uplifting. Generally speaking, the properties of its EO are similar to its exotic cousin, but this chemotype is less potent. “It conditions the hair and scalp and is used in formulas to stimulate hair growth.”2
If you find yourself shopping for Sweet Basil to use as I do for memory and concentration, it might be expressed as Ocimum basilicum, ct chavicol. The exotic version is denoted as ct linalol. A drop blended with a small amount of castor oil massaged into the temples is the procedure used by my massage therapist. TB 2010
Tonya Banbury is an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer with Mecklenburg County, NC. Her series of articles on Medicinal Herbs: Essential Oils is based upon documented research and personal usage experience.
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