Scent Leaves, Its Medicinal Uses & Their Side Effects

As bacterial infections continue to develop further resistance against antibiotics, scent leaf also known as Ocimum gratissimum or basil leaves, seem to be some of the medicinal herbs that can control them.

Being rich in alkaloids, tannins, flavonoids, and other phenolic compounds, the health benefits of scent leaves are many because of their antibacterial properties.

Juice from the leaves is effective in controlling Staphylococcus aureus, E Coli, Salmonella species, Klebsiella and other pathogenic bacteria that cause infections. (1)

However, the ethanolic extract of the plant was more effective than the water extracts.

Phytochemical constituents of Ocimum gratissimum

The laboratory analysis of scent leaves shows the following phytonutrient

  • Alkaloids
  • Tannins
  • Steroids
  • Terpenoids
  • Saponin
  • Flavonoids
  • Cardiac glycosides
  • Phenol (2)

health benefits of scent leaf

Health benefits of scent leaf

1. Scent leaves and high blood pressure

Scent leaves are usually added to our diets to spice it up, the herb also has lots of medicinal values, including the ability to lower blood pressure.

Extracts from the herb have been used to lower the blood pressure of a rat.

They administered the extracts to the rats for 5 weeks, and the records of the blood pressure, heart rate, packed cell volume (PCV), creatinine, and others duly kept.

Results showed a decrease in blood pressure, improved heart performance, and urinary electrolyte reabsorption. (3)

Another study also showed that extracts from basil, when combined with gallic acid, help reduce high blood pressure.

2. Used to treat malaria and fever

Scent leaves, when mixed with bitter leaves, help control different ailments including fever and malaria.

They were used in folk medicine and are still very effective today.

Studies have also confirmed the effectiveness of the plant in controlling complications like diarrhoea, upper respiratory tract infections, headache, ophthalmic, pneumonia, skin disease, cough, fever, and conjunctivitis.

3. Scent leaf and weight loss

The aqueous extract of Ocimum gratissimum has been reported to induce weight loss in albino Wistar rats.

In the study, they randomly assigned 18 Wistar rats into three groups of six rats each, with one group used as a control.

Diabetes mellitus (DM) was induced in the test group, with a dose of streptozotocin (STZ) at 65 mg/kg.

They served the extracts to the rats orally at a dose of 1500 mg/kg body weight for 28 days and feed plus water is adequately given to the whole group.

After the experiment, there was a significant loss of body weight, a reduction in blood sugar levels in the treatment groups compared to the control.  (3)

4. Used to treat epilepsy

The species of Ocimum plants have a variety of biological and pharmacological properties, including antiviral, antimalarial, antibacterial, antifungal, anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, antidiarrhoeal, antihypertensive, cardioprotective, antidiabetic, central nervous system depressant, antithyroid, anticancer, antioxidant, radioprotective, chemopreventive, antifertility, immunomodulatory, antiarthritic, antiulcer, antistress, anticoagulant and anti leucoderma properties. (4)

Ocimum species are equally used to cure epilepsy, due to their anticonvulsant property.

5. Serve as a mosquito repellent

Essential oils from all Ocimum species have both insect and mosquito repellent powers. 

These are because of some compounds like camphor, limonene, myrcene, caryophyllene oxide, cineole, methyl eugenol and others present in the plant.

Side effects of scent leaf

Despite many benefits of scent leaf, the herb still has some side effects on humans when overdosed or used at the wrong time. Below are some of their harmful effects:

Scent leaf and fertility

They have reported the aqueous extracts from scent leaf to have antifertility effects on male mice.

In the study, they administered 3 groups of mice with basil extracts at 11- 88 mg/kg for 4 weeks, while the fourth (control) received only distilled water.

At the end of the experiment, the animals were sacrificed and blood samples assayed for serum levels of testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteal hormone (LH). Their semen was also analyzed for semen parameters and testis tested for histological changes.

The results showed a decrease in sperm count, mobility, and an increase in the percentage of abnormal sperm cells, sperm debris, and primordial cells.

The extract also caused histopathological damage to the seminiferous epithelium of the testes. (4)

Scent leaf and ovulation

Extracts from scent leaves have a negative effect on ovulation and pregnancy.

The extract affects the regulation of the estrogen cycle, leading to the development of fewer follicles, thus affecting conception and reproduction. (5)

Bottom line

Ocimum gratissimum has a lot of benefits because of its anti-microbial, anti-fungal and antioxidant properties. Adding it in your diet will be of great benefit however, we should take care to avoid overdose since it has an anti-fertility effect.