Health Benefits of Scent Leaves [Ocimum gratissimum]

Natural plants have so many health benefits and in this article, we will discuss in detail the complete Health Benefits of Scent Leaves. Scent leaf is also known as African Basil (preferred common name) is a species of Ocimum. It is native to Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon), Southern Asia and naturalized in Hawaii, Brazil, Bolivia, Mexico, and Panama.  The scientific classification of this plant is seen in the table below:

Kingdom: Plantae

Order:  Lamiales

Family: Lamiaceae

Genus: Ocimum

Species: Ocimum gratissimum

Scent leaf has various names in different local dialects but is commonly known in Nigeria as Nchanwu by The Igbos, Efirinin by The Yorubas, and  Daidoya by The Hausas.

This plant is popularly known as a culinary herb/spice due to the unique aromatic scent and flavor it adds to different delicacies/meals. In addition to this fact and to buttress that there is more to it than being just a spice/culinary herb, here are 16 Amazing Health Benefits of Scent leaf outlined below:

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Amazing Health Benefits of Scent Leaves

Cardiovascular Health Benefit

This aromatic leaf(scent leaf) contains calcium and magnesium, which help reduce bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) and increase blood circulation. The former(bad cholesterol) increases the imminence of coronary artery disease in adults, so taking scent leaf/leaves can reduce this ever-present risk.

It should be noted that heart and arterial problems that result from clogged arteries are almost preventable if adequate amounts of scent leaves are consumed which is an amazing health benefit.

Antifungal Activity

Studies have proven that the aromatic leaves have antifungal activity against certain fungal organisms such as penicillium rubens (also known as Penicillium notatum ), Candida albicans,  The chloroform extracts of the leaves showed positive antifungal activity against the aforementioned fungal species. Treatment is attained when the scent leaf is crushed and smeared on skin infections thus giving off an amazing health benefit.

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Respiratory Health Benefit

Aqueous forms of scent leaf extracts have shown positive effects on inflammation markers such as interleukins, protein kinases, and leukocytes/eosinophils in respiratory allergy models (both in vivo and in vitro) and therefore can be used in managing respiratory problems. The leaf/leaves are massaged between the palms and inhaled as a treatment for blocked nostrils.

Improves Oral Hygiene

The scent leaf stem is often used as a chew stick and has proven to kill bacteria in the mouth and help fight bad breath. It can also prevent tooth decay. The tea made from scent leaf can be taken as a tonic or as a gargle to treat a sore throat that occurred due to cold or underlying health issues which is an amazing health benefit in addition to the previously stated benefits.

Ophthalmic Health Benefits

One of the vitamins which scent leaf is rich in is vitamin A, which promotes good eyesight. The retina of the eyes requires vitamin A which combines with the protein opsin to form rhodopsin, the light-absorbing protein that is definitely necessary for both scotopic (low-light) and photonic vision colors. In addition, Vitamin A deficiency and night blindness can be prevented by consuming adequate amounts of (aromatic)scent leaves.


Scent leaf contains compounds such as camphor, cineole, and limonene which have larvicidal action against mosquitoes or insects found in residential surroundings. This helps in reducing the mosquito and house fly population in residences, and respectively reducing cases of malaria and diseases (caused by house flies).

Anti-inflammatory Effect

Scent (aromatic) leaves have been shown to have anti-inflammatory characteristics similar to NSAIDS medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen, but are kinder to the inner lining of the stomach. The elixir made with Ocinum gratissimum leaves is useful for curing menstrual pain, stomach pain, earache, and fever.

Decreases Oxidative Stress

The antioxidants found in scent (aromatic) leaves help to fight free radicals which attribute to oxidative stress. Studies/experiment has proven that oxidative stress is the leading/primary cause of heart disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes.

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A study published online by ReseachGate found that antioxidants like flavonoids, tannins, etc. found in O. gratissimum can help prevent metabolic diseases.

Boosts Hair Growth

Hair loss is a dreaded side effect of cancer chemotherapy and also occurs in cases of alopecia ( which may occur due to severe stress). Studies have shown that scent(aromatic) leaf essential oil can help promote normal hair growth and follicular proliferation in cyclophosphamide-induced hair loss.

Reproductive Health Benefits

This plant (scent leaf) is a good source of arginine, which is an amino acid that helps maintain optimal pen*s health and sperm vigor. It also contains compounds like epigenin fenkhona and eugenol which promote erction. Furthermore, the anethole and boron in the leaves are capable of inducing estrogen in women.

Anti-diarrheal Activity

Drinking the juice squeezed from the aromatic leaves will stop defecating and vomiting. For the best, you can add salt or lime, which gives it a better flavor and also makes it easier for the unnecessary bowel movement that you are experiencing. Ethanol and hot water (100oC) extracts of aromatic leaves have been widely shown to be effective against some pathogenic bacteria known to cause diarrhea, such as Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Shigella sp., and Salmonella sp.

Therefore, it is conceivable that the aromatic leaves could be prepared as a tea to treat cases of diarrhea caused by the above organisms. Furthermore, the use of aromatic leaves in the control of diarrhea can be attributed to the relaxing action of the essential oil of O. gratissimum, which is probably due to a direct effect on the smooth muscle of the ileum rather than an indirect action on the release of neurotransmitters.

Reduces Blood Sugar

Scent leaves have a unique ability to lower blood sugar and protect the insulin-producing islets of the pancreas from damage. A research study conducted on mice showed that scent leaves were effective in lowering blood sugar levels.

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Antiseptic Activity

The phytochemicals contained in the Scent leaf are effective in killing germs. It is broadly used in the newborn umbilical cord and serves as a wound dressing to keep the umbilical cord and wound surfaces of the baby sterile. Its essential oil (Ocimum oil) has been incorporated in a variety of bases as topical antiseptics and for use in treating boils and acne.

Eases heartburn

Drinking tea from this plant is very helpful in curing heartburn, as it cleanses and stimulates the heart which is a health benefit of scent leaf.

Aromatherapy and Cosmetic Production

The oil extracts that can be obtained from scent leaves have a wide spectrum of use. Essential oils obtained from the extraction process can be used for aromatherapy massages because they help soothe and refresh the body. The oils can also be used in the manufacture of cosmetic products such as soaps, aromatherapy oils.

Food Protective

Scent leaf is reported credibly to have antimicrobial properties. The fact that its extracts are plant-based means that its ethanol extract can be used as a potent food protective to ward off bacteria and fungi that might cause food decomposition. This proffers a cheaper and possibly healthier alternative to the more popular food protective.

Conclusively, Scent leaves have amazing health benefits as we have come to understand through this article. however, due to geographical and cultural differences, there is evidence of more beneficial uses of scent leaves in different regions of the world. But we limit the list to only scientifically proven benefits. So there you have it, the health benefits of scent leaves.

NOTE: Caution should be followed when used in pregnant women. It’s best to consult a gynecologist before use.


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