(We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission, That would help us keep going.)
The bay leaf is native to Asia Minor, from where it spread to the Mediterranean and then to other countries with similar climates.
According to legend, the Delphi oracle chewed bay leaves, or inhaled the smoke of burning leaves to enhance the coma’s vision.
The bay, or laurel, was best known in ancient Greece and Rome. Emperors, heroes, and poets wore garlands of laurel leaves.
The Greek word for laurel is dhafni, named after the legend of the nymph Daphne, whom Gaea transformed into a laurel tree, which she transformed to help her escape the attempted rape of Apollo.
Apollo made the tree sacred and thus it became a symbol of honor.
The bond continues with honor and glory today. We have the poet laureate (Apollo was the god of poets), and the baccalaureate laureate means “laurel berry” which signifies completion of a bachelor’s degree.
Doctors were also crowned with laurel, which was considered a panacea.
The winning athletes of ancient Greece were awarded laurel wreaths and have been awarded to the winners of the Olympic Games since 776 BC and today, the grand prize winners are decorated with laurel wreaths.
It was also believed that laurel provides safety from the deities responsible for thunder and lightning. Emperor Tiberius always wore a laurel wreath during thunderstorms.
What are Bay Leaves?
There are many types of plants that have leaves that are referred to as “bay leaves,” but true bay leaf is scientifically known as Laurus nobilis.
This is the nutrient-rich variety discussed in the article.
Many other leaves have the same appearance and smell as real bay leaves, but not the same nutritional content.
This plant is a small tree native to the Mediterranean region. Laurel trees used to be ubiquitous in the region, but climate change has reduced their presence.
However, these leaves have been part of the culinary and medicinal world for thousands of years, dating back to at least ancient Roman times.
CLICK HERE TO BUY Organic Bay Leaf
How to Use Bay Leaves?
Bay leaf uses include grinding the leaves into a seasoning to give flavor to soups and stews, but it is often added in its whole form as a flavoring to certain Italian dishes.
They are removed from the dish before being eaten or used as a garnish.
Whole leaves are not commonly consumed. There is no wide range of culinary applications for bay leaves, although extracts of these leaves have numerous medicinal uses.
These leaves are also a common ingredient in aromatherapy and herbal remedies for various skin and respiratory ailments.
Health Benefits of Bay Leaves
With the wide range of benefits that these powerful leaves provide, it is essential to include them in your diet. Let’s explore it in detail.
1. Manage Diabetes
Research suggests that bay leaf is linked to improved insulin receptor function and the regulation of blood sugar levels.
For patients at risk of developing diabetes or for those who have already developed this condition, regular consumption of bay leaves may significantly reduce the chances of developing diabetes attacks.
While these results are promising, more studies with larger sample sizes need to be conducted to support the current research.
2. Reduce Anxiety & Stress
Linalool is often associated with thyme and basil, but it is also found in bay leaves.
This compound can help lower the level of stress hormones in the body, especially when used in aromatherapy.
Excessive stress hormones can be dangerous to health in the long run, so bay leaf can help you calm down and stay relaxed even in moments of intense anxiety.
3. Protect Heart Health
Caffeic acid and rutin are both important organic compounds, found in bay leaves, that promote heart health.
Rutin strengthens the capillary walls of the heart and the extremities of the body, while caffeic acid helps eliminate LDL or bad cholesterol from the cardiovascular system.
4. Anti-inflammatory Activity
One of the most important benefits of bay leaf is its ability to reduce inflammation throughout the body. This was confirmed by a study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research.
Bay leaves contain a unique phytonutrient called parthenolide, which can quickly reduce inflammation and irritation when applied topically to affected areas, such as arthritis or arthritic areas.
This effect can also be achieved through regular consumption of bay leaf spice.
5. May Improve Hair Health
Anecdotal evidence suggests that bay leaves can work wonders in treating dandruff and reducing hair loss problems.
If you want to improve the health of your hair follicles and eliminate dandruff, one home method is to soak bay leaves in water and then rub it on your scalp after shampooing.
The chemicals and volatile components in them may help eliminate dry skin and dandruff.
Having said that, there is a lack of scientific evidence to support the benefits of bay leaf for hair, thus more research is needed.
6. Can Help Relieve Respiratory Conditions
Bay leaves have strong antibacterial properties according to research published in the Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin.
When the essential oil of bay leaf is extracted, it can be mixed into an ointment and applied to the chest to help relieve various respiratory ailments.
This can also be achieved by using a compress made of leaves. Spread it on the chest and leave it overnight.
Steam inhalation has an effect similar to aromatherapy and can remove phlegm and eliminate dangerous bacteria that may be trapped in the respiratory tract, thanks to its natural antibacterial qualities.
Note: However, it is highly recommended to consult a health specialist before trying this remedy at home.
7. May Improve Digestion
Bay leaves are traditionally used to relieve symptoms of indigestion and other stomach related ailments.
According to a 2019 report in the Journal of South Asian Medicinal Plants, bay leaves not only add great flavor and taste to food, but also help relieve abdominal pain, gastrointestinal infections, flatulence, bloating, constipation and diarrhea.
It is also used as a diuretic. However, more research is needed focusing on the effects of bay leaf to truly prove its effectiveness in digestion.
A word of caution: As mentioned earlier, “bay leaf” is a commonly used term that applies to many different plants around the world. However, to achieve all the health benefits mentioned above, it is essential that you find a real bay leaf, which is derived from the bay tree. Others can actually be toxic when consumed, so make sure you’re getting the real thing. Regarding allergies, bay leaf is not widely known to be an allergen, but contact dermatitis and eczema have been reported intermittently. If you are allergic to members of the Lauraceae family, you are likely to be allergic to bay leaves as well.
8. Can It Banish Brain Disorders?
Ancient texts refer to bay leaf as a treatment for seizures. In a recent study, scientists decided to try to unravel this scientifically provable myth.
They discovered that bay leaf extract was actually effective in protecting mice from having seizures again. This is most likely due to the extract’s unique chemical components.
Scientists hope to use this new research to begin studying the extract’s effect on humans. For example, bay leaves may be able to help people with epilepsy.
9. Can It Treat Your Wounds?
The researchers want to know that. Studies to date have shown that the healing properties of the leaf extract can reduce inflammation in the wound area.
While these experiments have been conducted in mice, scientists are optimistic that bay leaves could work similarly in humans. If so, the ancient tradition of using this leaf for healing will finally be scientific proof.
10. Turning a New Leaf on How to Treat Kidney Stones
A 2014 study investigated whether bay leaf extract could help prevent kidney stones. The study found that along with eight other traditional medicinal herbs, bay leaf was able to reduce the amount of urease in your body.
Urea is an enzyme that can cause many stomach disorders, including kidney stones, when it is unbalanced. But the scientists who conducted the study suggested more research should be done to understand how these herbs work.
11. Prevents insomnia
According to Lifehacker, bay leaves help relax your body. It is effective in dealing with insomnia as it calms your brain performance. Simply mix a few drops of bay leaf extract with water and drink it before bed to get a good night’s sleep.
Cooking with Bay Leaf
Bay leaves are widely used all over the world. It may be popular in garnet bouquets or similarly used in soups, sauces, stews, coatings and broths, and is a suitable seasoning for fish, meat, and poultry.
Bay leaf is often included as a pickled spice.
HERE’S A LINK TO Turkish Bay Leaves
Preparation and Storage
Dried leaves should be whole and olive green. Brown leaves will lose their flavour. Whole leaves are often used in cooking and ground or ground leaves can be used for extra strength.
If kept out of the light in airtight containers, the entire leave will retain flavor for more than two years.
For now, all we know for sure is that bay leaves can provide a savory boost of flavor in soups and stews. But keep an eye out as scientists uncover the other amazing ways this leaf can be used.