Transatlantic and Ancestral Routes and the Pharmacological and Biological Potential of Ocimum basilicum L.: A Review

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M. M. A. Pereira
L. C. Morais
J. M. Q. Luz
M. Pasqual
J. Dória


Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) is not endemic in Brazil; however, it is a symbolic plant for traditional peoples and was present in ancestral cultural resistance. Several species were introduced to Brazil through the slave trade on the Africa-Brazil transatlantic route. In addition, the active constituents of basil are of great pharmaceutical and biological importance, and the plant has been used for therapeutic purposes by a wide variety of people, from quilombola communities to the pharmaceutical industry. Thus, based on African ethnobotany and modern science, this review article aimed to contextualize the endemic and epistemic importance of the origin, traditional, ancestral, medicinal and therapeutic uses of basil, consumed en masse in Brazil (during and after) the slavery period. The bibliographic review was carried out by consulting historical books and Scopus scientific databases. Scielo, transatlantic slave traffic database and Web of Science. The results showed that traditional communities, quilombos and terreiros, already made medicinal and liturgical uses of basil, before its use by the pharmaceutical industry. And that after the period of slavery, several studies carried out by researchers with basil proved that this species has several therapeutic properties, already reported by traditional communities. Thus, it is concluded that O. basilicum L. is an endemic species of the African continent, introduced in Brazil on the transatlantic route and that the traditional and ancestral knowledge for therapeutic use and application was already present in the territory, before the studies of proof of activity, post slavery period. Currently, the species is widely applied in the pharmaceutical and biological industry. However, there is a need for strategies that recognize, value and integrate the knowledge of the traditional peoples of the African diaspora, scientific productions.

Medicinal plants, ethnopharmacobotany, Ocimum basilicum L., transatlantic, ethnobotany, traditional peoples, phytochemistry

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How to Cite
Pereira, M. M. A., Morais, L. C., Luz, J. M. Q., Pasqual, M., & Dória, J. (2020). Transatlantic and Ancestral Routes and the Pharmacological and Biological Potential of Ocimum basilicum L.: A Review. European Journal of Medicinal Plants, 31(11), 38-48.
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