Not all basil essential oils are created equally, but a high quality brand with an emphasis on purity has some incredibly potent properties and a multitude of uses. Yes, basil (ocimum basilicum) oil smells like Italian food and if you use it topically, so will you. (So eat first.)It is mostly used for respiratory, muscular, and joint support, but what makes the oil so much more powerful than the leaves is simply the potency. The compounds found in the oil of the steam distilled leaves, stems, and flowers are much greater than what we find in dried or even fresh leaves.