The Scent leaf, botanically known as Ocimum gratissimum, is an aromatic herb that has been introduced extensively across tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It is native to Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroun, Madagascar, Southern Asia, and the Bismarck Archipelago.
It has been naturalized in countries such as Polynesia, Hawaii, Brazil, Panama, the West Indies, and Mexico. The plant is normally a perennial homegrown shrub, although it can be found in the wild, and is used mainly as a spice for cooking delicacies due to its aromatic taste.
Now, it is easy to dismiss this plant as just another sweet-smelling plant but it is more than just that. The plant boasts a lot of antibacterial, antifungal, larvicidal, and antipyretic activities that give it a prominent role in the treatment and prevention of diseases and infections. Scent Leaves contain vital bioactive substances which confer it with the above-mentioned activities including; tannins, phenols, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin A, and more, all of which are essential for human health.
For a better appreciation of the uniqueness of this plant, its amazing benefits are here outlined;
1. Maintenance of the eyes
Scent leaf is rich in Vitamin A, which promotes good eyesight. Vitamin A is needed by the retina of the eyes in the form of retinal which combines with protein opsin to form rhodopsin, the light-absorbing molecule which is ultimately necessary for both scotopic vision (low-light) and color vision.
The deficiency of vitamin A can be terrible for the eyes leading to xerophthalmia (a medical condition in which the eye fails to produce tears) and night blindness both of which are preventable when adequate amounts of scent leaves are consumed.
Excess intake of vitamin A and by extension, the scent leaves, by pregnant women can lead to birth defects and is not recommended. Also, Information regarding safety and efficacy in lactation is lacking.
2. Improves heart function
Scent leaves contain calcium and magnesium, both of which help to reduce bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) and increase blood circulation. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterols increase the risk of Coronary Artery Disease in adults and so the intake of scent leaves can reduce this ever-present risk.
Heart and artery problems resulting from the clogging of arteries are nearly preventable if adequate amounts of scent leaves are consumed
3. Aids digestion
Scent leaves can help relieve bloating and also help digest meals on time. Brewed scent leaves can have a calming effect on the stomach and help with bowel evacuation. Drinking scent leaves tea also relieves heartburn.
4. Lowers blood sugar
Scent leaves have an unprecedented ability to lower blood sugar and protect the pancreatic islets that produce insulin from damage. A research study conducted on mice showed that scent leaves were efficacious in lowering blood sugar levels.
5. Insect and mosquito repellent
6. Treatment of fungal infections
7. Treatment of Diarrhea
8. Anti-Inflammatory properties
9. Treatment of respiratory disorders
10. Promotes oral hygiene
11. Wound healing activity
12. Promotes normal hair growth
13. Reproductive health
Scent leaf is a good source of arginine, an amino acid that helps in the maintenance of optimum penile health and sperm vitality. It also contains compounds such as epigenin fenkhona and eugenol which can facilitate erection.
In addition, the anetol and boron in the leaves are capable of inducing estrogen in women while the same eugenol effective in men helps to kill fungus that has been implicated in vaginal discharge
14. Food preservatives
15. Source of aromatics and Oils