They might look dry, drab, and uninteresting. But these dull green crisp leaves have a multitude of uses, so I caution you to not sell them short.
The majority of users have always believed that they are merely to add a bit of zing to soups and stews, but oh no. They are definitely multi-taskers. But more about that in a minute…
Are Bay Leaves and Laurel Leaves the Same?
If you are confused about the bay leaf / laurel leaf relationship (because they certainly appear to be twins) the answer is they are virtually the same specimen. The different names simply refer to the areas in which they are grown. They originate from an ancient Mediterranean tree called, appropriately enough, the bay laurel tree.
The unassuming leaves from this tree were once a symbol of victory, power, achievement, and love, and have been cultivated as far back as there are written records. These beauties are one of the most used herbs in North America and Europe and are cultivated in Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Central America. They have been used in cooking, medicine, cosmetics, and soaps for centuries. And here you thought they were only meant for the soup pot.
Here’s an interesting tidbit. One other member of the laurel family tree (no pun intended) provides us with that oh so delicious spice known as cinnamon. And, for those of you who have heard of sassafras, yep, another cousin.
The Many Health Benefits Bay Leaves Offer
In my humble opinion bay / laurel leaves really should be addressed as Doctor Bay and Doctor Laurel as their medicinal uses are endless. We’ll name just a few…
Bay Leaves Medicinal Uses
It has been declared that if you have bay leaves (which can be purchased in any grocery store in the spice aisle) there is no need for a pharmacy. Bay leaves medicinal uses include:
– treats digestive disorders such as heartburn, acidity, constipation, irritable bowel, and celiac disease
– lowers blood sugar and is an antioxidant.
– eliminates bad cholesterol
– useful in treating colds, flu, and severe cough as it is rich in vitamin C. Boil the leaves and inhale the steam to get rid of phlegm.
– relaxes and eliminates insomnia if taken in tea form, before bed (Hops can also do this).
– the anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce headaches, strains, arthritis, sprains, and overexertion.
– when used as a wash or poultice it helps heal wounds and infections
Other Important Uses for Bay Leaves
– if steamed in a bowl, the steam will help clear your pores.
– if rubbed on your skin and scalp (after being softened with the boiling process of course, otherwise ouch, harsh exfoliation) they help with dry skin and scalp.
– bay leaves accelerate your metabolism and work as a diuretic so hello weight loss.
Bay Laurel Leaves For Before Surgery, Just in Case…
Not meaning to be a killjoy, I feel compelled to do the necessary warning label part here:
– bay leaf can slow down the central nervous system, so combined with anaesthesia before surgery, it might be a little over the top. Stop the bay leaf at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.
– taking bay leaf in addition to diabetes meds for lowering blood sugar might cause your blood sugar to go too low.
– bay leaf may cause sleepiness and drowsiness. This is a good thing if you have insomnia, but do not take it along with sedative meds.
Unless, of course, mellow is really your thing…
So there you have it, those are a few of the health benefits bay leaves provide, as well as a couple of bonus perks…
Who would have thought that little nondescript leaf could fulfill so many functions? It just goes to show you can’t judge a leaf by its colour.
Well, unless you’re some kind of plant racist…
The Nutshell Of It:
Of course we all know about bay laurel leaves for culinary uses, and this is not a cooking blog, so we won’t go into that any deeper. And although you may have even been aware of one or two of bay leaves’ medicinal uses, hopefully you learned something here that you didn’t know yesterday.
By the way,
I won’t tell you what my favourite of all of these diverse uses for bay leaves is, but let me just tell you this:
I am currently feeling v-e-e-e-ry groovey…
Peace, Love and Tranquility.
As much as we hope you have learned something interesting here…