Pleasantly aromatic bay leaf or bay-laurel is one of the well-recognized culinary leaf-spices in use since the earliest times. In the legends, bay laurel is deemed as the tree of the Sun god, under the celestial sign of Leo.
Botanically, bay tree belongs to the family of Lauraceae, in the genus; Laurus. It is thought to have originated in Asia Minor region, from where it distributed to all over the Mediterranean region and other parts of Asia.
No spice collection is complete without bay leaves.
Bay leaf was highly praised by the Greeks and the Romans, who deeply believed that the herb symbolizes wisdom, peace, and protection.
Some of the most impressive health benefits of bay leaves include their ability to detoxify the body, slow the aging process, speed wound healing, protect the body from bacterial infections, manage diabetes, improve heart health, reduce inflammation, alleviate respiratory issues, optimize digestion, and prevent certain types of cancer.
Health Benefits of Bay Leaves are:
Good for Digestion:
Bay leaves promote digestion and can treat digestive disorders such as heartburn and flatulence. Drinking a concoction of bay leaf tea with hot water can alleviate common digestive disorders like constipation, acid reflux and irregular bowel movements. It contains enzymes that enable the breakdown of proteins, thus making it an excellent spice for non-vegetarian diets. In case of indigestion and bloating, you can take 5 grams of bay leaves, add a piece of ginger and boil this in 200 mil of water till ¼ water remains. Add some honey and consume this twice a day for relief. It also acts as an appetite stimulant if you are recovering from illness.
When the essential oil of bay leaves is extracted, it can be mixed into a salve and applied to the chest to help alleviate various respiratory conditions. This can also be achieved with a poultice made of the leaves. Spread it on the chest and allow it to remain overnight. Inhaling the vapors has a similar effect to aromatherapy and can loosen up phlegm and eliminate dangerous bacteria that may be trapped in your respiratory tracts thanks to its natural antibacterial quality.
Treatment of Cold and Infection:
Bay leaves are effective in fighting the symptoms of cold, flu and infections. In case of respiratory problems, boil water and add 2 to 3 bay leaves. Allow it to steam for 10 minutes. Soak a cloth in this water and place it on your chest to alleviate flu, cold and cough. Bay leaf tea is effective in reducing fever. In case of repeated sneezing, boil some bay leaves in 200 ml water till ¼ remains. Strain and drink this concoction.
The bay leaf contains a compound called linalool. A study by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists found that linalool decreases anxiety and enhances social interaction.
In as little as 10 minutes of smelling a burning bay leaf, linalool begins working. Some have even described the effect as mildly psychedelic.
If you’re feeling stressed or you’re a bad mood, simply burn a leaf or two in an aluminum baking tray in your room or office and leave for ten minutes. Make sure you close the windows (a breeze could knock it over), keep the tray away from anything flammable (like paper, wood, or linens) and make sure you’re not burning it under a smoke detector.
When you come back inside, the smoke of the herb will make your mind and muscles feel more relaxed and you’ll find it easier to focus on your task at hand. When you’re done, dispose of the ashes outside.
Bay leaves should be removed from the food before serving since they may cause choking, may cut tongue and injure digestive tract. Pregnant women should avoid eating them in excess as the chemical compounds in them may cause abortion.
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This article is not intended to take the place of a competent nutritionist or doctor. It is solely intended to educate people on the vital and perhaps underestimated importance of this nutritional element.
The information in this site is presented for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or prescribe.
In the event the reader uses the information for his own health, he is in fact prescribing for himself, which is his own constitutional right, and for which the author assumes no responsibility.
If you suffer from a medical condition, consult your doctor. If you have questions as to the application of this information to your own health, you are advised to consult a qualified health professional.