Scent Leaf

Are you aware of the immense benefits of Ocimum gratissimum (nchanwu leaf)? Researchers agree that this plant has several medicinal values that depend on certain active chemical substances. These active chemical substances are believed to have physiological impact on the human body.  

Nchanwu or scent leaf, which is botanically known as Ocimum gratissimum is a tropical plant species that belongs to the family of Labiatae. This is a home grown shrub used mainly as spices for cooking delicacies due to its unique aromatic taste.

The plant has clusters of flowers with fragrant leaves that have serrated margin. Scent leaf is originally from Africa, the Bismarck Archipelago, Asia and Madagascar before spreading to other parts of the world such as Bolivia, Polynesia, Panama, West Indies, Hawaii, Mexico and Brazil.

Nchanwu is a perennial plant that is common in Asia and Africa. African countries like Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroun use Ocimum gratissimum (scent leaf) for both nutritional and medicinal purposes. Each Nigerian tribe has different name for scent leaf such as; the Ibibio call it Ntonng, Yoruba call it Efinrin, Hausa call it Daidoya while the Ibo or Igbo tribe call it Nchanwu. The use of nchanwu leaf as a herbal medicine has played and continues to play a prominent role in the treatment of certain ailments and diseases.

Benefits of Ocimum Gratissimum (Scent or Nchanwu or Efirin Leaf)

Researchers show that the nchanwu extracts exhibit antifungal activities on all the fungi tested. Nchanwu plants are of high importance to the health of individuals and the society at large. This plant has a huge medicinal values that depend on certain active chemical substances, which have physiological impact on the human body. These vital bioactive substances include; tannis, oligosaccharides, phenols, flavonoids and alkaloids.

Studies show that the extracts of nchanwu plant (O. gratissimum) contain anti-fungal properties.

The scent leaf can be used in the treatment of cough and catarrh when inhaled.

Scent leaf can be infused and used as a remedy for stomach disorder such as gastroenteritis.

Nchanwu leaf can be used to treat stomach pain, diarrhoea, cholera, chronic dysentery and vomiting especially if blended and infused together with the leaves of P. sentalinoides.

Nchanwu leaves can also act as a repellent to mosquitoes and other insects.

The nchanwu leaves can be used for preventing and treating malaria, catarrh, cough and fever.

The essential oil of scent leaf contains eugenol, which has antibacterial properties.
Squeezed nchanwu juice can be used for treating convulsion.

The essential oil present in nchanwu leaves contain anti-fungal, antibacterial and antiseptics properties.

The Ibo people of the Eastern part of Nigeria uses the nchanwu juice in caring for baby’s cord.

The Igbos believe that the nchanwu juice helps a lot in sterilizing the wound surface of a baby’s cord until the wound is healed.

Nchanwu is also used for treating gout and fungal infections.

Nchanwu plant is diaphoretic and anti-convulsant in nature.

The aqueos extracts of the scented leaf can be taken to relief ear ache and colon pains.

Squeezed nchanwu leaves are applied on the skin for treating  skin diseases and ringworm.

Nchanwu seeds can be infused for treating urinary infections and gonorrhea.
Nchanwu roots when boiled together with Jatropha curcas leaves and xylopia aethiopica fruit can be given to children to boost their strength and energy.

Nutritionally, Nchanwu leaf is very aromatic, which suggests why it is used for flavoring, spicing and seasoning food, soups and dishes.

Nchanwu oil can be used as food preservative due to its anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties.


This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnosis and treatments. Remember to always consult your health care provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.

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