Bay Leaf – Importance and Health Benefits

Bay Leaf - Importance and Health Benefits

Bay leaves (Laurus nobilis) come from the ancient tree Laurus nobilis, and it’s often used in cooking because of its distinctive savory flavor.

Bay leaf (Laurus nobilis) has antimicrobial, anti-fungal and antioxidant properties. It can be used to help fight cancer, improve insulin function, improve cholesterol levels, prevent candida, treat dandruff, improve skin infections and support wound healing.

Bay leaves (Laurus nobilis) have been shown to improve insulin function in vitro but the effects on people have not been determined.

The objective of this study was to determine if bay leaves may be important in the prevention and/or alleviation of type 2 diabetes.

Forty people with type 2 diabetes were divided into 4 groups and given capsules containing 1, 2 or 3 g of ground bay leaves per day for 30 days or a placebo followed by a 10 day washout period.

All three levels of bay leaves reduced serum glucose with significant decreases ranging from 21 to 26% after 30 d. Total cholesterol decreased, 20 to 24%, after 30 days with larger decreases in low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol of 32 to 40%.

High density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol increased 29 and 20% in the groups receiving 1 and 2 g of bay leaves, respectively. Triglycerides also decreased 34 and 25% in groups consuming 1 and 2 g of bay leaves, respectively, after 30 d.

There were no significant changes in the placebo group. In summary, this study demonstrates that consumption of bay leaves, 1 to 3 g/d for 30 days, decreases risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases and suggests that bay leaves may be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes.

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Bay Leaf – Importance and Health Benefits

The most impressive health benefits of bay leaves include their ability to detoxify the body, slow the ageing 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.

What Are Bay Leaves?

There are many types of plants whose leaves are referred to as “bay leaves”, but the true bay leaf is scientifically known as Laurus nobilis, and this is the nutrient-rich variety that is discussed in the article.

Many other leaves have a similar appearance and aroma like true bay leaves, but not the same nutrient content. This plant is a small tree native to the Mediterranean region.

Laurel trees were present everywhere in the region, but changing climates have shrunk their natural growth. However, these leaves have been a part of the culinary and medicinal world for thousands of years, dating back at least to Roman times.

The uses of bay leaves include grinding the leaves into a spice to flavour soups and stews, but the leaves are most commonly added in the whole form as a flavouring for certain Italian dishes and are then removed or used as a garnish.

Whole leaves are not commonly consumed. There is no extensive range of culinary application for bay leaves, although extracts of these leaves have numerous medical uses.

These leaves are also a popular element in aromatherapy and herbal treatments for various skin and respiratory conditions.

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The Benefits of Drinking Bay Leaf Tea

Bay leaf tea

There are many benefits of drinking bay leaf tea. Some of the most widely known benefits are:

1.  Bay leaves are a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Also regular inclusion of bay leaves in meals promotes general health.

2.  They have been proven to be useful in the treatment of migraines.

3.  Bay Leaf contains enzymes that help to breakdown proteins and digest food faster, helping to calm indigestion.

Recipe for Bay Leaf Tea

  • 16 oz water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Juice1 large or 2 smaller lemons
  1. Place ingredients, together, in a pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Drink, after it cools down

A hot cup of bay leaf tea can be very comforting. The aromatic fragrance that the leaves release is calming and the essence of the spiced tea makes bay leaf tea delicious.

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8 Amazing Health Benefits of Bay Leaves

With the wide range of benefits that these powerful leaves offer, it is a mandate to include them in your diet, so let us explore them in detail.

(1) Improve Digestion

Bay leaves have a very strong effect on the gastrointestinal system, both stimulating urination as a diuretic, which decreases the toxicity of the body and 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 (IBS) 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.

(2) Treat Respiratory Conditions

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 vapour has a similar effect to aromatherapy and can loosen up the phlegm and eliminate dangerous bacteria that may be trapped in your respiratory tracts, thanks to its natural antibacterial quality.

(3) Hair Care

If you want to improve the health of your hair follicles and eliminate dandruff, steep bay leaves in water and then rub them on your scalp after shampooing. The chemicals and volatile ingredients in them can help to eliminate dry skin and dandruff.

(4) Anti-inflammatory Activity

One of the most important benefits of bay leaves is its ability to reduce inflammation throughout the body.

These leaves contain a unique phytonutrient, called parthenolide, which can quickly reduce inflammation and irritation when topically applied to affected areas, such as sore joints or areas affected by arthritis.

This effect can also be achieved through the normal consumption of bay leaf spice.

(5) Protect Heart Health

Caffeic acid and rutin are both important organic compounds found in the bay leaves that enhance our heart health. Rutin strengthens capillary walls in the heart and the body’s extremities, while caffeic acid can help to eliminate HDL (bad) cholesterol from the cardiovascular system.

(6) Prevent Cancer

The unique combination of antioxidants and organic compounds in bay leaves, including phytonutrients, catechins, linalool, and parthenolide, helps to protect the body from the effects of free radicals.

Free radicals can cause healthy cells to mutate into cancerous cells, which bay leaves are particularly adept at preventing.

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(7) Reduce Anxiety & Stress

Linalool is often associated with thyme and basil, but it is also present in bay leaves and can help to lower the level of stress hormones in the body, especially when used in aromatherapy.

Excess stress hormones can be dangerous for long-term health, so bay leaves can help you calm down and remain relaxed even in your high-anxiety moments.

(8) Manage Diabetes

Bay leaves have been directly connected with improved insulin receptor function and regulated blood sugar levels. For patients at risk of developing diabetes or for those who have already developed the condition, regular consumption of bay leaves can significantly lower the chances of diabetic episodes.

Word of Caution: As mentioned earlier, “bay leaf” is a commonly used term that applies to many different plants around the world; however, to achieve all of the health benefits listed above, it is essential that you find a true bay leaf, derived from the laurel tree.

Other varieties can actually be toxic when consumed, so be certain that you’re getting the real thing. In terms of allergies, bay leaves aren’t widely known as an allergenic substance, but contact dermatitis and eczema breakouts have been sporadically reported.

If you’re allergic to other members of the Lauraceae family, you will likely be allergic to bay leaves as well.

 

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