Friday, June 23, 2017 by Frances Bloomfield
The bay leaf is an aromatic leaf commonly used in cooking. Though there are different plant leaves that are go by the name, “true” bay leaves come from the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis). When dried and wilted, the leaves of this tree are well-known for their distinct, bitter flavor and pungent odor. Apart from being a culinary spice-leaf, the bay leaf has a long-standing reputation as a medicinal plant.
Bay leaves are loaded with a wide array of minerals and vitamins, most notably:
Besides these important nutrients, bay leaves have a multitude of volatile compounds with antioxidant and antiseptic properties, such as:
In the past, bay leaves were used by herbalists to treat infections and clean wounds. Nowadays, bay leaves are just as revered for their diuretic, astringent, and soothing characteristics. These qualities, and many others, solidified bay leaves as plants that could be utilized in the care of:
The organic compounds present in bay leaves make them very effective in soothing an upset digestive system, and in facilitating digestion and nutrient uptake. Additionally, bay leaves possess diuretic and emetic or vomit-inducing effects, so bay leaves can be taken to expel any previously consumed toxic substances from the body.
Bay leaf oil has anti-inflammatory qualities that can ease the pains of arthritis, sprains, and general aches and pains. A poultice — a soft, moist mass spread on cloth — of bay leaves and castor leaves can reduce the pain and swelling of inflamed joints.
Linalool, a plant-based monoterpene usually linked to basil and thyme, can reduce the level of stress hormones, so bay leaves can be useful during times of high stress and anxiety.
Bay leaves can be good for the heart due to the presence of caffeic acid and rutin. Caffeic acid removes low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, while rutin bolsters capillary walls in both the heart and extremities.
Several types of plants are called “bay leaves”, and not all of them are safe. The leaves of the mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) are poisonous, while the leaves of the California laurel (Umbellularia californica) have the potential to damage the central nervous system.
Bay leaves can sustain and nourish many of the body’s systems and organs, the following in particular:
Bay leaves are leathery, tough to chew, and have a strong smell. Because of these unappetizing qualities, bay leaves are at their best when they’ve been relegated to a background flavor. Hearty and savory dishes can benefit the most from bay leaves, like roast poultry, fried rice, or vegetable stews.
Boiled bay leaves make for a decent cup of tea, and for a natural skin and hair treatment. In India, boiled bay leaves can serve as a remedy for head lice and as a solution for skin outbreaks.
Dried bay leaves are preferable over fresh ones, since newly plucked bay leaves are mild in flavor.
Bay leaves soothe an upset digestive system as well as facilitate digestion and nutrient uptake.
They possess diuretic and emetic effects.
Bay leaf oil has anti-inflammatory properties.
Bay leaves promote a healthy heart.
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