The methylugenol whose term in the official IUPAC nomenclature is: 1,2-Dimethoxy-4-prop-2-en-1-ilbenzene and whose brute or molecular formula is: C11H14O2 is a phenylpropanoid of eugenol derived from a specific catalyzed methylation in the presence of the enzyme S-adenosylmethionine O-methyltransferase.
Methylugenol is a substance contained in essential oils, in considerable quantities in basil, low in other aromatic herbs (parsley, mint, tarragon) and in spices (ginger, nutmeg).
From the chemical point of view methylugenol is a secondary metabolite and is one of the molecules that give the basil its particular taste. Some studies have shown that the concentration of methylugenol is greater in plants whose height is less than 10 cm whereas, if higher, this molecule is less present than eugenol which, structurally, is very similar.
Some studies carried out on the use of methylugenol have shown, in mice, a correlation between molecule intake and incidence of liver cancer.
According to some beliefs it is thought that there is a correlation between the toxicity of the molecule with risks to human health when habitually consuming quantities of basil, which is a food present in the Mediterranean diet and in some foods including pesto.
These beliefs have no scientific value and are therefore to be considered unfounded as the investigation was conducted on rats and not on human individuals. In fact, in order to establish whether a substance is harmful to humans, it is not sufficient to carry out research or tests that confirm the dangerousness of a substance in animals, but it is necessary to carry out in-depth studies, preferably double-blind, and have their work reviewed by special committees . This approach is, from the scientific point of view, the only proof of validity of a theory or hypothesis. The hypotheses are then groundless that eating basil plants that are less than 10 cm high can cause liver damage or meet the risk of carcinogenic diseases.
For this reason the consumption of basil, and in general of all the foods that contain it, is to be considered safe.
Warning: The information given is not medical advice and may not be accurate. The contents are for illustrative purposes only and do not replace medical advice.