Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) is aromatic herbs used in traditional medicines
Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) is aromatic herbs that are used extensively to add a distinctive aroma and flavour to food. The leaves can be used fresh or dried for use as a spice. Essential oils extracted from fresh leaves and flowers can be used as aroma additives in food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics (Simon, Morales, Phippen, Vieira, & Hao, 1999; Javanmardi, Khalighi, Kashi, Bais, & Vivanco, 2002; Senatore, 1996). Traditionally, basil has been used as a medicinal plant in the treatment of headaches, coughs, diarrhea, constipation, warts, worms, and kidney malfunction (Simon et al., 1999). The antioxidant activities of basil and thyme have been investigated using various model systems and assays. The antioxidant activity of ethanol extract of basil (O. basilicum L.) was investigated by electrochemical measurements (Madsen, Nielsen, Bertelsen, & Skibsted, 1996). In the study of essential oils produced from various cultivars of O. basilicum L., linalool (21.1–33.8% of total quantified volatile compounds), estragole (35.9–56.2%), eugenol (1.12– 4.36%), and 1,8-cineole (3.40–4.37%) were also determined as major constituents (Hasegawa et al., 1997). Major aroma compounds found in volatile extracts of basil exhibited varying amounts of anti-oxidative activity. In particular, eugenol, thymol, carvacrol and 4-allylphenol, found in basil and thyme, exhibited potent antioxidant activity, comparable to the known antioxidants, BHT and a-tocopherol. Considering the abundance of these aroma chemicals in natural plants, the total activity may be comparable, or more, than those of known antioxidants. Furthermore, ingestion of these aroma compounds may help to prevent in vivo oxidative damage, such as lipid peroxidation, which is associated with cancer, premature aging, atherosclerosis, and diabetes.