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 depicted 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.
California bay leaf – the leaf of the California bay tree (Umbellularia californica, Lauraceae), also known as California laurel, Oregon myrtle, and pepperwood, is similar to the Mediterranean bay laurel, but has a stronger flavour.
In Indian and Pakistani cuisine, bay laurel leaves are sometimes used in place of Indian bay leaf, although they have a different flavour. They are most often used in rice dishes like biryani and as an ingredient in garam masala. Bay (laurel) leaves are frequently packaged as tejpatta (the Hindi term for Indian bay leaf), creating confusion between the two herbs.
The leaves are often used to flavour soups, stews, braises and pâtés in Mediterranean cuisine and beans in Brazilian cuisine. The fresh leaves are very mild and do not develop their full flavour until several weeks after picking and drying.
17 Amaming Benefits
1. Treatment of Diabetes
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.
2. Good for Digestion
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. 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.
3. Cardiovascular Benefits
The powerful phytonutrients in bay leaf provide protection against cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. They contain valuable compounds such as rutin, salicylates, caffeic acid and phytonutrients which boost heart health and improve heart function. In case of heart disease and anxiety, boil 3 grams of bay leaves and 3-4 grams of wild rose flowers in 300 ml water till only 75 ml remains. Strain and drink this concoction for relief.
4. 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.
5. Relieves Pain
The oil extracted from bay leaf has anti-inflammatory properties which can ease the pain resulting from sprains, strains, arthritis, rheumatism as well as general pains and aches. Massaging your temples with bay leaf oil helps to relieve migraines and headaches. It also boosts circulation and promotes a feeling of well-being. In case of joint pain, you can make a poultice of ground bay leaves and castor leaves, and tie it around the inflamed joints to reduce pain and swelling. In case of headache, you can boil a few bay leaves in water for a few minutes. Strain and drink this concoction while it is still hot. You can apply a paste of bay leaves on your forehead to get relief from severe headache.
6. Anti-cancer Properties
Bay leaf contains caffeic acid, quercetin, euganol and catechins all of which possess chemo-protective properties which provide resistance against different types of cancer. They also contain a phytonutrient called parthenolide which has shown to specifically restrain the proliferation of cervical cancer cells.
7. Beneficial during Periconception Period
Being rich in folic acid, bay leaves are extremely beneficial during the periconception period (3 months before and after pregnancy).By providing sufficient folic acid content to the child; they prevent birth defects in the child. These leaves also have the property of inducing pregnancy.
8. Treatment of Menstrual Problems
Bay leaves, when taken orally, can induce regular and normal menstruation. They also have the property of curing vaginal discharge.
9. Induces Sleep
Consuming bay leaves at bedtime helps to induce proper sleep. For this purpose, mix a few drops of the bay leaf extract with water and consume it.
10. Treatment of Nosebleed
In case of nosebleed, crush 2 to 3 fresh or dry bay leaves. Boil them in 200 ml water till 100 ml remains. Strain and drink this concoction for relief.
11. Clean Teeth
To get sparkling white teeth, brush them with powdered bay leaves once in 3 days.
12. Insect Repellent
Bay leaves are a great insect repellent as they contain lauric acid. A dish of bay leaves will ward off insects. A paste made from crushed leaves and little oil relieves stings and bites when applied topically.
13. Treatment of Kidney Problems
Bay leaves help in treating kidney infections and even kidney stones. For this purpose, boil 5 grams bay leaves in 200 ml water till 50 ml water remains. Strain and drink this twice daily. This will stop the formation of kidney stones.
14. Relieves Stressed Skin
Bay leaf helps to de-stress your skin, thus preventing the occurrence of wrinkles and skin outbreaks. For this purpose, boil 5 dried bay leaves with 2 cups of water, keeping the container covered. Then remove the lid and let it boil for about 2 minutes. Now pour the brew into a large bowl and covering your head with a towel, inhale this steam.
15. Healing Qualities
Bay leaf has excellent healing properties. It was often used by herbal practitioners for treating snakebite, insect stings and relieving cuts and bruises. Bay leaf oil has antifungal and anti-bacterial properties which can cure skin infections. It is applied topically to heal cuts, bruises and insect bites.
16. Treatment of Dandruff and Hair Loss
A rinse made from infused bay leaves is effective in treating dandruff. Bay leaf tea is considered a great remedy for hair loss. Bay leaf oil is a tonic for hair that effectively combats dandruff and hair loss.
17. Treatment of Head Lice
For getting rid of head lice, boil about 50 grams of crushed bay leaves in 400 ml water until 100 ml water remains. Strain out the water and apply this on the hair roots. Leave it for 3 to 4 hours and wash off. This will remove the head lice effectively. Adding bhringraj to the bay leaves before boiling will make your hair black, lustrous and healthy.