Surprising Health Benefit of Essential Oils? Basil and Cinnamon Help in Multiple Ways

They've longed been used for a variety of ailments, but now we can add to another health benefit of essential oils—their effectiveness in lowering cholesterol naturally.

health benefit of essential oils

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines an essential oil as a product made by distillation with either water or steam or by mechanical processing of citrus rinds or by dry distillation of natural materials.

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Morocco is better known to Americans for being the home of Casablanca (starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman) than it is for cutting-edge health modalities. But it also gives us a key health benefit of essential oils. The people from this North African country have discovered a unique approach: They use the essential oil of basil for lowering cholesterol naturally.

Research is proving that basil oil and other essential oils may be beneficial in our cholesterol-lowering efforts. Essential oils are concentrated liquids derived from plants. They are most often used for their aromas in perfumes and soaps as well as flavoring agents in foods. Essential oils are also utilized as aromatherapy in oil burners or candles and are frequently mixed with lotions for massage.

Cinnamon Oil

Cinnamon essential oil is distilled from the bark and leaf of the cinnamon plant, Cinnamomum zeylanicum. Research in the journal, Diabetes Care, found that intake of 1, 3, or 6 g of cinnamon per day reduced serum glucose, triglyceride, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes.[1] Harvard Medical School suggests that consuming as little as 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon each day can reduce your blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels by as much as 12 to 30 percent.[2]

Basil Oil

Basil oil (also called Holy basil oil) works gradually, but effectively, in lowering cholesterol in the body. Derived from the herb, Ocimum basilicum, basil has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and cholesterol-lowering actions. A study published in the journal, Phytotherapy Research, tested basil extract on rats with induced high cholesterol. The study found that basil significantly reduced LDL. Furthermore, the reduction of LDL was accompanied by an increase in HDL (“good”) cholesterol.[3]

Health Benefit of Essential Oils: Recommendations

  • To achieve the cholesterol-lowering effect, buy oils that are available only in capsule form and labeled as “standardized extracts.” Standardized extracts are diluted and safer for consumption. Follow the dosage instructions listed on the manufacture’s label.
  • Rotating essential oils is most effective. Choose one essential oil and try it first for a few weeks, then rotate to another oil.
  • After two to three months, have your cholesterol checked to monitor your progress.
  • Do not use undiluted essential oils as they are highly concentrated. Failure to dilute an essential oil can result in a chemical-like burn on the skin and should not be swallowed unless directed by a health care professional.


A key health benefit of essential oils is that they can be used for a variety of conditions, but they should always be used with caution. If you’re pregnant, epileptic, have liver damage, or have cancer, use essential oils only under the proper guidance of a qualified aromatherapy practitioner. It is safest to consult a qualified practitioner before using essential oils with children. Also note that some essential oils are toxic to pets.

Learn More

To learn about using another essential oil—oil of oregano—to lower cholesterol naturally, click here: Herb Used for Lowering Cholesterol Naturally.

[1] Diabetes Care. 2003 Dec;26(12):3215-8.
[2] “Eat, Drink and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating”; Walter Willett and P. J. Skerrett; 2005.
[3] Phytotherapy Research. 2006 Dec;20(12):1040-5.

Originally published in 2016, this post is regularly updated.

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Jami Cooley, RN, CNWC

Jami Cooley is a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant as well as a Registered Nurse, but her interest in integrative medicine grew out of her experience in conventional medicine. Cooley … Read More

View all posts by Jami Cooley, RN, CNWC

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