8 Amazing Things About Scent Leaf You Need To Know

Amarachi Irobi
Amarachi Irobihttp://@Amara_ii
My name is Amarachi Irobi, a content writer and food lover who loves to explore traditional African cuisine.
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Ocimum gratissimum, popularly known as Scent leaf, clove basil, African basil, and in Hawaii as wild basil, is a species of Ocimum. It is native to Africa(common in Nigeria and Ghana), Madagascar, southern Asia, and the Bismarck Archipelago.

The scent leaf plant can reach a height of 1-3 m and has several branches growing from its base. The flowers are fragrant and have white to greenish-yellow spikes. The leaves are lanceolate in shape and taper at both ends.

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. Commonly used in pepper soup, black soups and other indigenous soups.

Scent leaf is also an aromatic tropical plant, whose leaves are mostly used for cooking. Scent leaf extracts are also commonly used as traditional medicine in treating illnesses like fever, cough, body pain, and so on.

Types of Scent Leaves

Although a lot of people may not know this, there are different types of scent leaves.

The genus Ocimum contains all authentic basil species. Annuals, non-woody perennials, and shrubs native to Africa and other tropical and subtropical parts of the Old and New World are included in the genus.

Even though there are different types of scent leaves, the type used commonly as a flavor is typically called sweet basil (or Genovese basil), as opposed to Thai basil ( O. basilicum var. thyrsiflora ), lemon basil ( O. × citriodorum), and holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum).

Ganyen Kamsh or Doddo Ya

Some Local Nigerian Names for Scent Leaf in Different Tribes

  • In Igbo: Ahuju or Nchanwu
  • In Yoruba: Efirin
  • In Hausa: Ganyen Kamsh or Doddo Ya
  • In Effik: Ntong
  • In Edo: Aramogbo
  • In Ibibio: Ntonng
  • In Ijaw: Ekeni

It is primarily used in the preparation of ‘Ofe Akwu,’ pepper soups, porridge yams,  and ‘Ukwa,’ among other dishes. More specifically, the Benin/Delta people use it to make soups such as ‘Ogbono’ and Egusi. It is most known for its ability to prepare a variety of cuisines.


Nutritional Composition of Scent Leaf

The leaves of Ocimum gratissimum are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and essential oils such as:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin K
  •  Potassium
  • Dietary fiber
  • Protein
  • Water
  •  Magnesium
  •  Iron
  •  Zinc
  •  Phosphorus

The essential oil of scent leaf is high in eugenol, thymol, camphor, pinene, limonene, and other chemical compounds that are responsible for many of their therapeutic properties.

Health Benefits of Scent Leaf

Scent leaf health advantages have long been known in folk medicine. It’s an alcoholism treatment that’s antispasmodic, lactogenic, and anti-emetic. Externally, it was used as a wound-healing, emollient, and rheumatism poultices, baths, and rinses.

The essential oil and the entire plant have numerous applications in traditional medicine, particularly in Africa and India. Upper respiratory tract infections, diarrhea, headaches, ophthalmic, skin disorders, pneumonia, cough, fever, and conjunctivitis are all common ailments treated with it in folk medicine.

The plant has antibacterial, antifungal, larvicidal, and antipyretic properties, making it useful in the treatment and prevention of infections and disorders. Scent Leaves include critical bioactive compounds that give it the above-mentioned properties, such as tannins, phenols, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin A, and others, all of which are necessary for human health.

The seeds are used to treat gonorrhea and have laxative qualities. Fever, inflammations of the throat, ears, or eyes, stomach ache, diarrhea, and skin problems are treated with this essential oil, which has anti-inflammatory effects. It’s now being studied as an antibiotic.

Basil water extract or juice has antispasmodic properties and is used to treat and manage convulsions and seizures. Basil-infused water can be used as a tonic or as a gargle for a sore throat.

Drinking the squeezed juice from scent leaves will stop stooling. To get the best, one can add salt or lime which gives a better taste and also ease the unnecessary bowel movement being experienced.

Because of its antimicrobial and antibacterial qualities, scent leaf oil can be utilized as a food preservative. It can be used to treat oral infections, mouth odor, tooth decay, fungal infections, and bad breath because of its antimicrobial qualities. Squeezed fragrance leaves are used on the skin to treat ringworm and skin ailments.

Helps in Eye Care

Vitamin A is abundant in scent leaves, which helps to maintain strong vision. The retina of the eyes requires vitamin A in the form of retinal, which interacts with the protein opsin to generate rhodopsin, the light-absorbing molecule required for both scotopic (low-light) and color vision.

Vitamin A deficiency can harm the eyes, resulting in xerophthalmia (a medical disorder in which the eye fails to produce tears) and night blindness, both of which can be avoided by eating enough fragrance leaves.

Although precaution should be taken; pregnant women should avoid taking too much vitamin A and, by implication, fragrance leaves since it can cause birth abnormalities. In addition, there is a scarcity of information on the safety and efficacy of the drug during lactation.

Antimutagenic Properties

Several plant groupings have been found to have edible plants with antimutagenic and chemopreventive properties. Organic solvent extracts of scent leaves have been found to have antimutagenic properties when tested against reverse mutation caused by ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS), 4-nitrophenylenediamine, and 2-aminofluorine.

Scent Leaf and Menstruation

Scent leaves have also been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties akin to drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen but are milder to the inner linings of the stomach. Extract from scent leaves is useful for healing menstrual pain, stomach ache, earache, and fever.

Lowers Blood Sugar

This plant can also help you avoid cancer and lower your cholesterol. Scent leaf may lower blood sugar levels and protect the pancreas cells that create insulin from harm in diabetes mellitus, particularly non-insulin-dependent diabetes (NID diabetes).

Reduce Nicotine

Scent leaves help eliminate and repair the damage caused by smoking. Smokers must consume Scent leaves. Other Scent benefits can also reduce stress, prevent diabetes and kidney stone disease. Wind laxative (carminative) contains a mint-like Scent.

Largely Improves Heart Function

Scent leaves are high in calcium and magnesium, which both assist in lowering bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol), improving blood circulation. Adults’ risk of Coronary Artery Disease is increased by low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterols, therefore consuming fragrance leaves can help to minimize this ever-present risk.

Heart and artery issues caused by clogged arteries are almost entirely avoidable if sufficient amounts of scent leaves are consumed.

How to Preserve Scent Leaves

  • Drying the leaves and storing them in a cool, dry area for future use is one of the quickest ways to preserve the smell leaf.
  • Put the scent leaf in a plastic bag and keep them in the refrigerator for no longer than two weeks.
  • Purée the leaves in a blender and keep them in the refrigerator or freezer.

How to Prepare Scent Leaf Tea to Maximize Its Health Benefits

Follow the steps mentioned below to prepare your scent leaf tea:

Step 1: Wash your scent leaf thoroughly to remove dirt

Step 2: Pour a glass of water or 2 ( this depends on how much the scent leaf is) into your kettle

Step 3: Place your clean scent leaf in your kettle

Step 4: Lit your gas or stove and boil for 30 mins

Step 5: After 30 mins, put off your gas or stove.

The water and scent leaf mixture in your kettle is your scent leaf tea, pour in a cup, leave it to warm, and drink.

scent leaf scaled
image from: Pinterest.com

Other Uses of Scent Leaf


You can effortlessly get rid of acne while sitting at home. Scent leaf is one powerful herb that fights acne, but most people do not know about it.

Acne occurs when the openings of hair follicles become clogged and blocked with oil and dead skin cells. If the clogged pore becomes infected with bacteria, it forms a pimple, which is a small red bump with pus at its tip.

A blend of scent leaves and honey is a powerful and inexpensive way to get rid of acne in a couple of days.

When mixed properly with honey, which is also known for its healing powers that come from its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects as well as its ability to nourish surrounding tissue, scent leaf, which is known for being effective for treating skin diseases, helps to effectively cure acne in days.

Used as A Mosquito Repellent

Because scent leaf contains components like camphor, cineole, and limonene, which are larvicidal and damaging to mosquitoes’ existence or insects, scent leaf can also be used as a potent mosquito repellent when dried in the sun and burned to ashes.

In addition, scent leaves can be grown in residential areas or as a flower in a pot to serve as a repellent for houseflies, mosquitoes, and other insects, encouraging good health and lowering malaria and intestinal infections caused by houseflies. This is because the perfume of the scent leaf includes a fragrant that repels mosquitoes and flies.

As a Preservative

Scent leaf oil extract is also used as a food preservative because of its antibacterial and antimicrobial characteristics, which help to keep bacteria and fungi from spoiling food.

Scent Leaf as A Cooking Spice

Scent Leaf is a homegrown shrub used mainly as a spice for cooking delicacies due to its unique aromatic taste. It is used to prepare a wide range of African delicacies as the main Vegetable, or simply as a spice.

Potential Side Effects of Scent Leaf

Blood Clotting

Vitamin K, which aids in blood clotting, is abundant in scent leaf.  Vitamin K-rich foods and supplements can interfere with the effectiveness of blood thinners like warfarin.  As a result, anyone taking blood thinners should see their doctor before increasing their intake of scent leaf or any other basil kind.

This also makes it contraindicated in anyone with bleeding disorder and uncommon surgery.


Essential oils of Scent leaves can be used for aromatherapy massage, however, pregnant women are forbidden from using it because it is feared that could cause a miscarriage.


Please avoid scent leaves if you have allergies to plants in the basil or mint family. Also, if you develop hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing after eating food made with the leaves, call 911.

Scent leaf in African cuisine

Nigerian Black Soup

Nigerian black soup with scent leaf
Image from Guardian Ng

Nigerian black soup, also known as Efirin soup, Scent leaf soup, or Eweluje, is a delectable soup served with fufu foods in Nigeria. This soup has an amazing texture and flavor and is just right for a traditional family meal.

Here’s how to prepare:


  • Efirin (scent leaf) – 3 cups
  • Habanero peppers – 6 medium sizes
  • Palm oil: 120 ml.
  • Grounded crayfish – 2 tbsp
  • Onion – 1 medium size
  • Seasoning cubes
  • Dried fish or meat you like – ½ kilo
  • Mashed locust beans (Iru Pete) – 1 tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Utazi leaves


  • Wash and cut the Efirin leaf
  • Blend the peppers and onions until they get a rough texture.
  • If you use using fresh meat/fish, season it first and boil it.
  • Pour the palm oil into a pot and let it heat for 2 minutes.
  • Add the blended pepper and onion and fry.
  • Meat/fish follows.
  • Add locust beans, crayfish, seasoning cube, and let the ingredients simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • Now add the Efirin (scent leaf), stir, and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Dish with yam or any swallow of your choice.

Spicy Mango Bisque with Scent Leaf

Spicy Mango Bisque with Scent Leaf Recipe
Image from Food and Wine


  • 1 fresh habanero chile (about 5/8 ounce)
  • 3 1/2 cups well-shaken and stirred coconut milk, divided (from 2 [13.5-ounce] cans)
  • 2 ounces fresh scent leaves and tender stems or Thai basil, plus more leaves for garnish
  • 4 cups chopped mango (from 4 [15-ounce] mangoes)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest plus 2 tablespoons fresh juice (from 1 lemon), plus more juice to taste
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
  • Warm crusty bread, for serving


  • Cut a slit in the side of the chile. Combine 1 3/4 cup coconut milk and chile in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium, stirring occasionally. Add scent leaves, and stir until submerged; remove from heat. Let steep for at least 1 hour at room temperature or chill up to 12 hours. Strain coconut mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer, pressing on herbs to release their oils; discard solids. Reserve 1/4 cup infused coconut milk for drizzling.
  • Combine remaining infused coconut milk, mango, salt, lemon zest, and juice, remaining 1 3/4 cups coconut milk, and, if using, honey in a blender. Process until smooth, about 20 seconds. Season with more salt and lemon juice to taste. Refrigerate until cool, about 15 minutes.
  • To serve, divide the soup among cups or bowls. Drizzle with reserved 1/4 cup infused coconut milk, and garnish with scent leaves. Serve with warm crusty bread.

Scent Leaf Stew

Scent leaf stew
Image from Matse Cooks

So spice up your stew with a handful of scent leaves and enjoy a unique mealtime experience!


  • Titus fish
  • Tomatoes
  • Pepper
  • Onions
  • Scent leaf
  • Crayfish
  • Vegetable oil
  • Seasoning
  • Garlic


  • Boil the fish with little seasoning and onions, blend the crayfish, slice the onions and scent leaves.
  • Boil the tomatoes for about 10 minutes, add garlic, pepper, and onions, blend all together.
  • Pour oil into the pot add the blended ingredients let it fry till almost dry, add the boiled fish with stock, add blended crayfish, and adjust the seasoning to taste.
  • Finally, add the scent leaf and stir gently so that the fish will not pieces. Cover and let it stay for 3 minutes. Serve with Rice, yam, pasta, and beans.

The Side Effects of Scent Leaf

It Could Interfere with Blood-Thinning Medications:

Vitamin K is abundant in scent leaf leaves, which aids in blood clotting. Blood-thinning medicines like warfarin may be affected by high intakes. If you’re on a blood thinner, make sure you’re getting enough vitamin K every day so your doctor can keep track of your dosage. This may be made more difficult if you consume items that contain a lot of Scent leaves.

It Is Contraindicated in Patients with Low Blood Pressure:

Scent leaf is known to lower blood pressure. This poses a threat to individuals diagnosed with low blood pressure as it could further lower it.

Scent leaf is a herb you should definitely incorporate into your meal. With its astounding medicinal benefits, there’s a lot to gain.
There are many more herbs and spices you should learn about. If you love this article, then you would love;

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Amarachi Irobi
Amarachi Irobihttp://@Amara_ii
My name is Amarachi Irobi, a content writer and food lover who loves to explore traditional African cuisine.

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