9 Properties of Bay Leaf You Might Not Know About

In order to benefit from the health properties of bay leaf, it's important that they be dry -- fresh ones can be toxic.
9 Properties of Bay Leaf You Might Not Know About
Cesar Paul González

Reviewed and approved by the biologist Cesar Paul González.

Written by Lorena González

Last update: 09 October, 2022

Bay leaf has a lovely aroma and is a tasty addition to all kinds of dishes but its health properties are also well-known.

What you might not know is that bay leaf has some properties that can be good for your health. In today’s article, we’ll talk about some of the reasons that bay leaves should be a part of your diet.

Bay leaf

Bay, Laurus nobilis, is a shrub of the Lauraceae family. It’s native to the Mediterranean area and, as we already mentioned, it’s a common ingredient for cooking although it’s also part of many traditional remedies.

The most common variety is the Turkish (which has oval-shaped leaves) and the Californian (with longer and narrower leaves).

Its use as a condiment in the kitchen is common in the countries of the basin of the Mediterranean Sea and in the American continent. It’s common in meat soups and stews as well as fish, vegetables, and legumes.

The most common way of using this condiment is in its dry form. However, there are also essential oils and tablets.

The best-known properties of its active ingredients, eugenol and cineol, are digestive. However, the interest in this plant has extended to other uses and possible benefits.

The health properties of bay leaf

As we already mentioned, bay leaf has many properties and we’re about to share 9 of them here. Don’t miss the remedy at the end, it’s quite useful.

1. Bay leaf reduces anxiety

According to one study, bay leaf can help reduce anxiety. That’s because the chemical compound it releases has a relaxing effect on both body and mind. This application is common in Mexico and other countries.

However, we don’t recommend trying it unless you’ve first consulted a doctor. You must be very careful because the regular inhalation of the smoke can lead to hallucinations.

Learn about Four Ways To Fight That Never-ending Uneasiness Known As Anxiety

A woman with anxiety.

2. It reduces inflammation and promotes muscle relaxation

Bay leaves contain eugenol, a compound that acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. This could be a great natural remedy for those with inflammation, especially of the joints.

Bay leaves are also vasoconstrictors, which can help regulate circulation and relax nervous impulses. This is important especially if you suffer from migraines, headaches, neck pain, or shoulder pain.

In addition, you can use bay leaf oil to massage your temples or wherever you feel discomfort. It’s a neuroprotector.

3. It strengthens your immune system

The eugenol is one of 81 compounds in bay leaf and also an antioxidant that can strengthen the immune system. Note that it also has cytotoxic effects, eliminating cells such as cancer cells.

So, bay leaves, whole or ground, are great in many recipes, some of which you can use to treat a cold. However, don’t eat them as they could lodge into your esophagus or hypopharynx and affect the epithelium of the intestine and even cause asphyxia.

4. Bay leaf for diabetes

a blood test for diabetes

According to the results of research done in the US, the intake of one to three grams of bay leaf tablets a day could help with symptoms in people with type 2 diabetes.

However, consult the doctor familiar with your case before taking any type of supplement or a more concentrated source of bay leaf.

5. Bay leaf supports a healthy respiratory system

Bay leaf can help open up your airways. If you suffer from asthma or allergies, breathing the steam from bay leaf oil could offer some relief.

To do this, you’d have to breathe the vapors of the bay leaf oil. Of course, we don’t recommend, as we said before, using this remedy without consulting a doctor first. Remember, it can lead to bad side effects. complications.

6. It’s good for your skin

Bay leaf oil is excellent for skin care. It’s rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, so it can provide nourishment. In addition, it’s also a good treatment for dandruff and for treating blemishes.

7. Antifungal and antimicrobial

Bay leaf is anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antimicrobial. In fact, some studies indicate it can counteract Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella typhimurium, and Staphylococcus aureus.

In other uses, it has pediculicidal properties against lice and nits. Rarely will the direct application of the oil on the skin cause redness and inflammation but it’s always preferable to test it on the forearm and wait 24 hours to see if there are adverse reactions.

8. Can bay leaf lower a fever?

Some believe inhaling the steam of a bay infusion or applying moist compresses with the oil to your chest are both good remedies against the common cold or the flu. However, there are no scientific studies to back up these claims.

9. Digestive properties

Traditionally, this is one of the most widespread uses of bay leaves, both as an infusion and in its essential oil form.

The most common symptoms treated with this plant are: bloating, gas, heavy digestion and belching. In addition, it could also improve intestinal and gastric spasms and diarrhea.

Some studies carried out with animals confirm some of these benefits. In this study found that the extract exerted a protective effect on the gastrointestinal mucosa.

Bay leaf oil recipe

Now that you’re familiar with some of the properties of bay leaves, check out this recipe for making a bay oil infusion.

Ingredients

Supplies

  • 1 200 milliliters airtight glass jar

Preparation

  • First, wash the glass jar well
  • Then, add the laurel leaves, making sure they’re clean and dry
  • Then add the sweet almond oil
  • Close the jar with its airtight cover and let it steep for 40 days

Apply this oil on specific points of your body or massage it to improve problems such as migraine, poor circulation or inflammations and wounds.

To soothe and remedy digestive and respiratory discomfort or strengthen the immune system, it’s best to make an infusion with one or two bay leaves and take one cup a day.

Possible contraindications and other things to keep in mind

Bay leaves are safe for the general population as long as you use them as a spice. You could eat them but they’re too tough to chew as their sharp edges don’t soften when boiled.

For this reason – and to avoid a possible risk of suffocation – it’s best to remove them before serving the dishes. Another way to benefit from their health properties is by drinking infusions.

Crushed bay or that in tablets is safe in the recommended amounts and for a short period of time.

Always consult your doctor before taking it. Some of the situations in which you should avoid it are:

  • During pregnancy and breastfeeding, as there’s not enough information to know if it’s safe.
  • It may interfere with blood sugar control in those with diabetes and other chronic conditions. Thus, always consult with your doctor before taking any type of supplement or plant concentrate.
  • Don’t take it before surgery as it has a slowing effect on the central nervous system and could have a negative impact in combination with the anesthesia or other medications used during surgery.
  • Bay leaf supplements could have contraindications with certain medications such as those used for diabetes, pain, and sedatives. Exercise caution by seeking advice before using them.

Bay leaf add flavor and nutrients

Adding bay leaves to daily meals is the safest (and also the tastiest) way to benefit from their health properties. Furthermore, their daily use in small amounts as a dietary supplement can be good in the long run.

Always consult a doctor before taking them as a supplement or infusion to improve a specific condition. Never use it as a substitute for their prescribed treatment.




The contents of this publication are for informational purposes only. At no time can they serve to facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult with your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.