Chemical Constituents and Antioxidant Capacity of Ocimum basilicum and Ocimum sanctum

Document Type : Research Article


Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA


The chemical constituents of leaves, inflorescence, and flowers from Ocimum basilicum (Thai basil) and Ocimum sanctum (Holy basil) were analysed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The chemical compounds were extracted by hydrodistillation, headspace-solid phase microextraction, and solvent extraction.  The main constituents of Ocimum basilicum were identified to consist of estragole (> 35.71%), (E)-β-ocimene (> 1.47%), trans-α-bergamotene (> 0.83%), τ-cadinol (> 0.41%) eucalyptol (> 0.25%) and α-caryophyllene (> 0.07%) while Ocimum sanctum consists mainly of eugenol methyl ether (> 34.34%), (E)-caryophyllene (> 7.91%), germacrene D (> 5.58%), β-elemene (> 4.22%) and copaene (> 1.49%).  Ocimum basilicum and Ocimum sanctum leaves contain more chemical constituents followed by inflorescence and flowers. The genetic distance between the two species was calculated to investigate the interspecies relationship and it is 2.86.
The calculated genetic distance between the two species showed that Ocimum basilicum and Ocimum sanctum are closely related species and share some of the same traits.  The methanol and dichloromethane extracts of Ocimum basilicum leaves showed an IC50 value of 88 μg/mL and 1178 μg/mL, respectively, while the methanol and dichloromethane extract of Ocimum sanctum showed a higher 2, 2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazil free radicals scavenging activities with an IC50 value of 11 μg/mL and 369 μg/mL, respectively. The natural antioxidant level Ocimum sanctum and Ocimum basilicum indicated that they can be used effectively in food preservation.


Main Subjects

[1] Labra M., Miele M., Ledda B., Grassi F., Mazzei M., Sala F., Morphological Characterization, Essential Oil Composition and DNA Genotyping of Ocimum basilicum L. Cultivars, Plant Science, 167(4): 725-731 (2004).
[2] Hiltunen R., Holm Y., “Basil: The Genus Ocimum”, Harwood Academic, Amsterdam (1999).
[3] Makri O., Kintzios S., Ocimum sp. (basil): Botany, Cultivation, Pharmaceutical Properties, and Biotechnology, Journal of Herbs, Spices and Medicinal Plants, 13(3): 123-150 (2008).
[4] Guenther E., Althausen D., “The Essential Oils”, Van Nostrand, New York (1952).
[5] Fathiazad F., Matlobi A., Khorrami A., Hamedeyazdan S., Soraya H., Hammami M., Maleki-Dizaji N., Garjani A., Phytochemical Screening and Evaluation of Cardioprotective Activity of Ethanolic Extract of Ocimum basilicum L. (basil) Aagainst Isoproterenol Induced Myocardial Infarction in Rats, DARU Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 20(1): 1-10 (2012).
[6] Umar A., Imam G., Yimin W., Kerim P., Tohti I., Berké B., Moore N., Antihypertensive Effects of Ocimum basilicum L. (OBL) on Blood Pressure in Renovascular Hypertensive Rats, Hypertension research, 33(7): 727-730 (2010).
[7] Cohen M., Tulsi-Ocimum sanctum: A Herb for All Reasons, Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 5(4): 251-259 (2014).
[8] Mohan L., Amberkar M.V., Kumari M., Ocimum sanctum Linn (Tulsi)—An Overview, International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences Review and Research, 7(1): 51-53 (2011).
[9] Singh S., Majumdar D.K., Rehan, H.M.S., Evaluation of Anti-Inflammatory Potential of Fixed Oil of Ocimum sanctum (Holybasil) and Its Possible Mechanism of Action, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 54(1): 19-26 (1996).
[10] Brand-Williams W., Cuvelier M.E., Berset C.,
Use of a Free Radical Method to Evaluate Antioxidant Activity, LWT - Food Science and Technology, 28(1): 25–30 (1995).
[11] Chan H.W.S, “Autoxidation of Unsaturated Lipids”, Academic Press, London (1987).
[12] Namiki M., Antioxidants/Antimutagens in Food, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 29(4): 273-300 (1990).
[13] Ames B.N., Gold L.S., Willet W.C., “The Causes and Prevention of Cancer”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 92(12): 5258-5265 (1995).
[14] Kaur C., Kapoor H.C., Antioxidants in Fruits and Vegetables - The Millennium’s Health, International Journal of Food Science and Technology, 36(7): 703-725 (2001).
[15] Edlund A.F., Swanson R., Preuss D., Pollen and Stigma Structure and Function: The Role of
Diversity in Pollination
, The Plant Cell, 16: S84-S97 (2004).
[16] Farquhar G.D., Sharkey T.D., Stomatal Conductance and Photosynthesis, Annual Review of Plant Physiology, 33(1): 317-345 (1982).
[17] Kirchoff B.K., Claben-Bockhoff R., Inflorescence: Concepts, Function, Development and Evolution, Annals of Botany, 112(8): 1471-1476 (2013).
[18] Van Den Dool H., Kratz P.D., A Generalization of the Retention Index System Including Linear Temperature Programmed Gas-Liquid Partition Chromatography, Journal of Chromatography A, 11: 463-471 (1963).
[19] Adams R.P., “Identification of Essential Oil Components by Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry, Allured Publishing Corporation, Illinois (2001).
[20] Karp A., Isaac P.G., Ingram D.S., “Molecular Tools for Screening Biodiversity: Plants and Animals”, Springer Netherlands, Dordrecht (1998).
[21] Nei M., Genetic Distance between Populations,
The American Naturalist, 106(949): 283-292
[22] Babushok V.I., Linstrom P.J., Reed J.J., Zenkevich I.G., Brown R.L., Mallard W.G., Stein S.E., Development of a Database of Gas Chromatographic Retention Properties of Organic Compounds, Journal of Chromatography A, 1157(1): 414-421 (2007).
[23] Lim J.M., Lee J.H., Sun G.M., Moon J.H., Chung Y.S., Kim K.H., The Geographical Origin and Chemical Composition in phellinus Mushrooms Measured
by Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis
, Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, 291(2): 451-455 (2012).
[24] Nguyen P.M., Niemeyer E.D., Effects of Nitrogen Fertilization on the Phenolic Composition and Antioxidant Properties of Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.), Journal Agriculture and Food Chemistry,56(18): 8685-8691 (2008).
[25] Naczk M., Shahidi F., Phenolics in Cereals, Fruits and Vegetables: Occurrence, Extraction and Analysis, Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, 41(5): 1523-1542 (2006).
[26] Alothman M., Bhat R., Karim A.A., Antioxidant Capacity and Phenolic Content of Selected
Tropical Fruits from Malaysia, Extracted with Different Solvents
, Food Chemistry, 115(3):
785-788 (2009).
[27] Do Q.D., Angkawijaya A.E., Tran-Nguyen P.L., Huynh L.H., Soetaredjo F.E., Ismadji S., Ju, Y. H., Effect of Extraction Solvent on Total Phenol Content, Total Flavonoid Content, and Antioxidant Activity of Limnophila Aromatica, Journal of Food and Drug Analysis, 22(3): 296-302 (2014).
[28] Theimer E.T., “Fragrance Chemistry: The Science of the Sense of Smell”, Academic Press, New Jersey (1982).
[29] Zhang Z., Yang M.J., Pawliszyn, J., Solid-phase Microextraction. A Solvent-Free Alternative for Sample Preparation. Analytical Chemistry, 66(17): 844A-853A (1994).
[31] Kulisic T., Radonic A., Katalinic V., Milos M.,
Use of Different Methods for Testing Antioxidative Activity of Oregano Essential Oil, Food Chemistry, 85(4): 633-640 (2004).
[32] McGowan J.C., Powell T., Raw R., The Rates of Reaction of 2-2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl with Certain Amines and Phenols, Journal of the Chemical Society, 3103-3110 (1959).
[33] Ruberto G., Baratta, M.T., Antioxidant Activity of Selected Essential Oil Components in Two Lipid Model Systems, Food Chemistry, 69(2): 167-174 (1999).
[36] Akoh C.C, Min, D. B., “Food Lipids: Chemistry, Nutrition and Biotechnology”, Marcel Dekker Inc., New York (2008).
[37] Halliwell B., Murcia M.A., Chirico S., Aruoma O.I., Free Radicals and Antioxidants in Food and in Vivo: What They Do and How They Work, Critical Review in Food Science and Nutrition,35(1-2): 7-20 (1995).
[38] Simàn C.M., Eriksson U.J., Effect of Butylated Hydroxytoluene on a-Tocopherol Content in Liver and Adipose Tissue of Rats, Toxicology Letters,87(2): 103-108 (1996).  
[39] Sarafian T.A., Kouyoumjian S., Tashkin D.,
Roth M.D., Synergistic Cytotoxicity of ∆9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Butylated Hydroxyanisole, Toxicology Letters,133(2): 171-179 (2002). 
[40] Okubu T., Yokoyama Y., Kano K., Kano I., Cell Death Induced by the Phenolic Antioxidant
tert-Butylhydroquinone and Its Metabolite
-Butylquinone in Human Monocytic Leukemia U937 Cells
, Food and Chemical Toxicology,41(5): 679-688 (2003).
[41] Kim H.M., Han S.B., Chang W.I., Hyun B.H.,
Oh G.T., Ahn C.J., Cha Y.N., Selective Suppression of in vitro T-Dependent Humoral Immunity by Synthetic Food Additive Antioxidant, The Journal of Toxicological Sciences,21(1): 41-45 (1996). 
[42] Shahidi F., “Food Additive Databook”, Blackwell Science, Oxford (2003).
[43] Gajula D., Verghese M., Boateng J., Walker T., Shackelford L., Mentreddy S.R., Cedric, S., Determination of Total Phenolics, Flavanoids and Antioxidant and Chemopreventive Potential of Basil (Ocimum basilicum L. and Ocimum tenuiflorum L.), International Journal of Cancer Research, 5(4): 130-143 (2009).