Packed with nutrients and a rich aroma, the bay leaf has the scientific name of “Laurus nobilis.” Leaves of the tree were worn by Roman kings as a sign of nobility. First found in the Mediterranean region, bay leaf benefits are recognized across the world. People use it for medicinal purposes or simply to lend flavor to their food. You can add the whole leaf to your stews, soups, and other dishes, though the actual leaf is not eaten. In many cultures, the dried leaves are ground into a powder and added to dishes. In addition to using in food, aromatherapists extract an oil from the leaves and use it for relieving respiratory conditions.
Bay Leaf Benefits for Overall Health and Wellness
Regulates the Digestive System
Bay leaves contain therapeutic compounds and powerful enzymes that help break down the complex proteins and starches in the carbohydrates you eat. As a result, your digestive system works better and can absorb the nutrients from your food more efficiently. The leaf can also help you prevent digestive disorders like inflammation in the intestines that leads to pain and bloating. One of the best positives of bay leaves is that they help detoxify your body. Their diuretic properties induce urination and should you eat something poisonous, the leaf will stimulate vomiting to remove the harmful food. Adding the leaf to your food can provide relief from issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, and upset stomachs.
Provides Relief from Respiratory Conditions
Bay leaves have antibacterial properties that can give you relief from respiratory diseases resulting from bacterial infections. You can also use it to treat asthma attacks since the vapors can clear away phlegm and fluids accumulated in the lungs and airways.
- Mix a few drops of the essential oil into a salve and apply on the chest to alleviate troubled breathing.
- Make a poultice with the leaves and spread on the chest. Leave overnight and wash off in the morning.
- Add a few drops of the essential oil to a bowl of hot water and inhale the vapors for easing congestion.
Improves Your Skin and Hair
Bay leaves have rich antioxidants that work to reverse the signs of aging by erasing the lines and wrinkles. By acting against the effects of free radicals, the compounds present in bay leaves can revive the formation of collagen in the skin. Further, bay leaves can give you gorgeous, shiny hair that is free of dandruff. You can make a paste with the leaves and apply on your face and hair and wash off after a while. Or, steep the leaves in boiling water and use as a rinse. You can also steam your skin and hair with bay leaf water for more effective results.
Works as an Anti-Inflammatory Agent
Bay leaf benefits also come from the unique phytonutrient, parthenolide that it contains. By consuming the compound regularly, you can lower inflammation all over the body and get relief from various diseases. In case of pain and difficulty in movement because of arthritis, application of bay leaf oil can give you relief. Given that inflammation is your body’s response to the attack of pathogens, the leaf can remove them thanks to its microbial properties.
Improves Heart Health and Controls Diabetes
Bay leaves contain rutin that fortifies the walls of your blood vessels while the caffeic acid helps lower the bad LDL cholesterol. In this way, they keep your heart strong. Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes respond well to bay leaf. Not only do the leaves stimulate the slower breakdown of food but they also improve the body’s response to insulin. Add the leaf in spice form to your food and you can lower blood glucose levels.
Bay leaf benefits your skin and body in more ways than one. But, you’ll be amazed to know that the aroma is good for your psyche also. Make a combination of essential oils of bay leaf, basil, and thyme, and add it to your diffuser for relief from stress and anxiety.