When I think of spices from the Mediterranean, bay leaf definitely comes to mind! It’s larger size and shape make it hard to miss in your spice cupboard, as though it can be made into a spice, it is often used whole.
Culinarily, bay leaf is often associated with the “bouquet garni” which is a signature bundle of aromatic herbs and veggies consisting of thyme, sage, savory, celery, and basil that is often used in a variety of dishes both in the stove and in the pot. Bay leaf can also be added as an ingredient in a variety of sauces, brewed as an herbal tea, and even used to flavor sweet dishes including custard!
Medicinally, bay leaf has astringent, diuretic, and appetite stimulating properties as well as often applied in a number of topical ways. Certainly bay leaf is a useful leaf, and here some of its KEY health benefits!
Bay leaf can accelerate healing!
A 2006 study in the “BMC Complementary and Alternative medicine” journal had found that rats that had been given 200mg of bay leaf extract per kilogram of bodyweight experienced accelerated healing and wound closure over the course of a 10 day period. Later it was determined that bay leaf is anti-microbial against some of the most common pathogens including staph and strep!
Bay leaf may improve insulin function!
In a 2009 study concerning the effects of bay on those coping with type 2 diabetes, it was found that those who received 2-3 grams of bay a day, over the course of 30 days, experienced a drop in blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides. More research would have to be done, but the results are promising considering that patients experienced better insulin levels and reduced markers for heart disease!
Bay leaf can be used to clear the sinuses!
The essential oil of bay leaves can be made into a salve that you rub on your chest to open up your sinuses much like we think of with eucalyptus or mint! Additionally, the vapors of bay can aid in loosening up phlegm and taking out dangerous bacteria that can reside in your respiratory tracts!
Bay leaf promotes digestive health!
In many ways bay leaf can take the place of a figurative safety net as it is preventative of a lot of digestive issues! As a diuretic, encouraging urination, bay allows for your body to naturally flush out toxins in the most natural of ways!
Additionally, if you were to eat bay, and then to eat something poisonous or toxic, bay will allow your stomach to sense its presence quicker encouraging you to vomit (the type of purge which can save your life!)!
Bay leafs are calming and can help with fatigue and anxiety
Burning a bay leaf releases a combination of chemicals that produce a calming effect. Light a couple dried bay leafs at the same time, and breathe in the aroma and vapors. You’ll gradually start to feel at peace and relaxed. The best part? It doesn’t make you feel sleepy at all.
Bay leaves have a really rustic and wholesome fragrance. It isn’t strange to see them hanging dried in a rustic Italian or Greek kitchen either! Give bay leaves a try, though if you plan on using them as whole leaves in your cuisine, it is recommended that after you extract the oils and flavor out of it that you remove the leaves as they are so durable they could cut your mouth! Be safe, stay healthy, and happy eating!