Although a native of Asia Minor, the Laurus nobilis tree can be found in the Mediterranean owing to its partiality for warm climates. This is generally referred to as Mediterranean Bay Leaf. The Bay leaf tree is an evergreen tree that grows up to a height of 12m. The growth rate is very slow. A mature bay leaf is approximately 5cm wide and 10 cm in length.
There are several other trees grown around the world that are also called bay leaves, namely: Californian Bay Leaf (Umbellularia californica, Lauraceae), Indian Bay Leaf (Cinnamomum tamala, Lauraceae), Indonesian Bay Leaf (salam leaf, Syzygium polyanthum, Myrtaceae), West Indian Bay Leaf (Pimenta racemosa, Myrtaceae), Mexican Bay Leaf (Litsea glaucescens, Lauraceae).
These leaves are pungent and have a sharp, bitter flavor. Their taste and fragrance are somewhat similar to the cinnamon bark but slightly milder. They are used in fresh, dried or powdered form. The oil extracted from bay leaves, called bay leaf oil has medicinal properties and is used to treat several ailments.
Due to their bitter taste, bay leaves cannot be eaten directly but are often used to impart flavor to a variety of dishes, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Bay leaf is extensively used in Indian, Nepalese and Bhutanese cuisines. It is an important spice in Moghulai dishes, particularly biryani and korma. Roasted and ground bay leaves are added to the Indian mixture of spices called “Garam Masala”. Myrcene, which is a component of essential oils extracted from bay leaves, is used in perfumery. They also have the property of repelling flies, moths, mice etc. Apart from their culinary uses, they have medicinal properties and are known for their anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, diuretic and astringent qualities.
Most people are familiar with the bay leaf as a culinary herb used to season soups and stews, but it also has a centuries-old reputation as a medicinal herb.
Bay leaves have been used medicinally for centuries. They were eaten fresh or dried and infused into warm water to be taken internally for a variety of ailments. The resulting infusion was a diuretic, increasing urination to remove excess water from the body, and an emetic, to induce vomiting. Bay leaves also have astringent properties, which could help stop secretions due to infection and help reduce excessive sweating brought on by illness.
Frequently found in kitchen cabinets, and well-known to any fan of Italian cuisine, the common bay leaf uses may soon be granted much-deserved recognition for its powerful health benefits. bay leaf uses
In ancient Greece and Rome, glossy bay leaves (Laurus nobilis) were woven into wreathes used to crown kings, poets, and athletes. The bay leaf uses was not only symbolically important, however, it was also used to cure a multitude of illnesses. Now, modern scientific research has confirmed numerous health effects of bay leaves, especially for diabetes and heart disease.
Scientists have found that bay leaves contain enzymes that break down proteins and promote healthy digestion, phytonutrients that help improve heart function, compounds believed to aid in cancer prevention and for those seeking to treat diabetes, the antioxidants provided by bay leaves aid in the absorption of insulin, which can have a powerful overall health effect.
Diabetes (Bay Leaf)
Bay leaves have been found to be effective in treating type 2 diabetes as they cause reduction in blood glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. To get maximum results, these leaves can be powdered and consumed for 30 days. This will cause a drop in sugar levels in the body as well as regulate the functioning of your heart. This is because the antioxidants in bay leaf enable the body to process insulin more efficiently, thus making it a good choice for diabetics and people with insulin resistance.
Bay leaves are good for promoting 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. It also acts as an appetite stimulant if you are recovering from illness.
Digestive Health: Bay leaves have a very strong effect on the gastrointestinal system, both stimulating urination as a diuretic, which decreases the toxicity of the body, but also stimulating vomiting (as an emetic) when something toxic has been consumed. Furthermore, the organic compounds found in bay leaves are very effective for settling upset stomachs, soothing irritable bowel syndrome, or even lessening the symptoms of Celiac’s disease. Some of the more complex proteins in our modern diet can be difficult to digest, but the unique enzymes found in bay leaves help to facilitate efficient digestion and nutrient intake.
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.
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.
Boost Heart Health
The most exciting news about bay leaves may be that they actually boost heart health. The phytonutrients found in bay leaves (when consumed regularly) improve heart function, as well as prevent:
Other common heart complications
One of the phytonutrients bay leaves contain is so powerful. Researchers are now working on ways to use it in the fight against cancer. The compound—called quercetin—has known cancer-fighting properties.
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.
Urease is an enzyme that can cause several gastric disorders, including kidney stones, when it’s out of balance. But the scientists conducting the study suggested that more research should be done to understand how these herbs function.