Latin Name: Ocimum basilicum
English Names: French Basil, Sweet Basil, Common Basil
Sanskrit / Indian Names: Vanatulasi, Munjariki, Surasa, Varvara
An erect, almost glabrous herb. It yields a volatile oil (Oil of basil).
The seeds of the plant are odorless with an oily, slightly pungent taste. When steeped in water, they liberate a mucilage which is semitransparent and nearly tasteless. The mucilage (9.3%) yields on hydrolysis uronic acid, glucose, xylose and rhamnose. The seeds contain a drying oil with the following fatty acid composition. The unsaponifiable fraction is reported to contain ß-sitosterol, oleonolic acid and ursolic acid.
The plants are considered stomachic, anthelmintic, alexipharmic, antipyretic, diaphoretic, expectorant, carminative, stimulant and pectoral. An infusion of the plant is given for cephalalgia and gouty joints and used as a gargle for foul breath. The juice of the leaves has a slightly narcotic effect and allays irritation in the throat. The roots, bark and leaves are cyanogenetic. Alcoholic extracts of leaves and aqueous extracts of flowers possess antibacterial activity against Micrococcus pyogenes var. aureus. The seeds possess demulcent, stimulant, diuretic, diaphoretic and cooling properties; useful in diarrhoea and dysentery.