Scent leaf is an aromatic herb extensively introduced across tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It has been naturalized in countries like Polynesia, Hawaii, Brazil, Panama, the West Indies, and Mexico but is native to Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroun, Madagascar, Southern Asia, and the Bismarck Archipelago. Normally, this plant is a perennial homegrown shrub but can as well be found in the wild. Due to its aromatic taste, it is used mainly as a spice for cooking delicacies.Botanical Name of Scent Leaves
: Ocimum gratissimumPreferred Common Name for Scent leaves
: African basil
Some International Common Names for Scent LeafEnglish
: clover basil; East Indian basil; shrubby basil; tree basilSpanish
: albahaca Africana; albahaca cimarrona; albahaca de limónFrench
: basilic sauvage; menthe gabonaiseChinese
: wu mao ding xiang luo lePortuguese
: alfavaca-de-caboclo; alfavacão
Some Local Common Names for Scent LeafBrazil
: alfavaca bravaCambodia
: ling leak kranamCuba
: albahaca de clavo; canela; clavo; clavo mondonguero; laurel cimarrón; orégano cimarrónDominican Republic
: albahaca vaca; atiyayoHaiti
: basilic à petites fleurs; basilic grandes feuilles; folle basin; fombasin; gran basilique; grand basilique; grand fombasinIndia
: ajeka; doshakleshi; elumiccam tulaci; elumichanthulasi; kattuthrithavu; mali-thulasi; perumthulasi; ram tulsiIndonesia
: kemangi hutan; ruku-ruku rimba; selaseh mekahJamaica
: African tea bushLesser Antilles
: basilic; frond bazin; mintMalaysia
: ruku-ruku hitam; selaseh besarNetherlands Antilles
: anis; yerba di hole blankuNigeria
: nchuanwu/Ahuji (Igbo); efirin (Yoruba); daidoya (Hausa)Panama
: origanum de castillaThailand
: horapha-chang; kaphrao-chang; yiraVietnam
: é lá lớn; hương nhu trắng
Scent leaves boast of a lot of antibacterial, antifungal, larvicidal, and antipyretic activities that give it a prominent role in the treatment and prevention of diseases and infections. Although it is very easy for people to dismiss this great plant as just another sweet-smelling plant, but as you can see, it is more than just that. They contain vital bioactive substances, all of which are essential for human health like tannins, phenols, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin A, and more.
Health Benefits of Scent Leaves
The amazing benefits of this unique plant will be discussed here for better appreciation.
1. Maintenance of the Eyes
Vitamin A deficiency can be terrible for the eyes as it can lead to xerophthalmia and night blindness. But these two diseases can be prevented when an adequate amount of scent leaves is consumed because scent leaves are rich in Vitamin A, which promotes good eyesight. The retina of the eye needs Vitamin A in the form of retinal, which combines with protein opsin to form rhodopsin. This light-absorbing molecule is ultimately necessary for both scotopic vision (low-light) and color vision.
Pregnant women shouldn't take scent leave in excess because the excess intake of vitamin A by pregnant women can lead to birth defects.
2. Improves Heart Function
Heart and artery problems resulting from the clogging of arteries are nearly preventable if they consume an adequate amount of scent leaves. Scent leaves contain calcium and magnesium, and they are both beneficial in reducing bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) and increasing blood circulation. In adults, Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterols are responsible for increasing Coronary Artery Disease risks, but the intake of scent leaves can help reduce the chances of this ever-present risk.
3. Aids Digestion
Scent leaves help digest meals on time and also relieve bloating. When scent leaves are brewed, they can help with bowel evacuation and tend to have a calming effect on the stomach. Drinking scent leaves tea, on the other hand, relieves heartburn.
4. Lowers Blood Sugar
Scent leaves have an unprecedented ability to protect the pancreatic islets that produce insulin from damage and also to lower blood sugar. During a research study conducted on mice, it was discovered that scent leaves were successful in lowering blood sugar levels.
In another study conducted, a decrease in blood sugar levels in Non-Insulin Dependent (NID) Diabetes Mellitus patients after eating significant amounts of scent leaves were also observed.
[h3[5. Insect and Mosquito Repellent[/h3]
Compounds like camphor, cineole, and limonene are contained in scent leaves. These compounds are larvicidal and so are harmful to mosquitoes or insects. Scent leaves can be used as a repellent for house flies, mosquitoes, and other insects by potting them and leaving them in your residential quarters.
This unique plant has a double role because it reduces the population of mosquitoes and houseflies in residences. So, the incidences of malaria and enteric diseases (caused by houseflies) are both reduced.
6. Treatment of fungal infections
Scent leaves have been shown to have antifungal activity against Penicillium chrysogenum (also known as Penicillium notatum), Candida albicans, and Microsporum gypseum. The chloroform extracts from the scent leaves have shown great antifungal activity against the above listed fungal species. That means scent leaves help treat skin infections when crushed and smeared on the affected area on your skin.
7. Treatment of Diarrhea
The use of scent leaves in controlling diarrhea can be attributed to the relaxant action of the essential oil of Ocimum gratissimum, which is likely due to a direct effect on the ileum's smooth muscle rather than an indirect action on neurotransmitter release.
It has been extensively demonstrated that ethanol and hot water (100°C) scent leaves extracts affect some pathogenic bacteria known to cause diarrhea, including staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coil, Shigella sp., and Salmonella sp. During diarrhea cases caused by the above-listed organisms, scent leaves can be brewed as a tea to treat those cases.
8. Anti-inflammatory Properties
It has been proven that scent leaves possess anti-inflammatory properties akin to drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen, but its anti-inflammatory properties are a lot kinder to the inner linings of the stomach. A decoction made from leaves of Ocimum gratissimum can be used to heal menstrual pain, stomach ache, earache, and fever.
9. Treatment of Respiratory Disorders
Scent leaves aqueous extracts have demonstrated effects on inflammation markers, including interleukins, protein kinases, and leukocytes/eosinophils in models of respiratory allergy. For this reason, it can be used to manage respiratory problems. The leaves can as well be used as a treatment for blocked nostrils by rubbing it between the palms and sniffing it.
10. Promotes Oral Hygiene
Scent leaf stems can be used to kill bacteria in the mouth and fight bad breath when used as chewing sticks. It also helps prevent tooth decay. Also, when made into a tea, the leaves of scent leaf can treat sore throat when taken as a tonic or used as a gargle.