Bay leaf, scientifically called Laurus Nobilis, is a nutrient rich leaf with an amazing aroma and nutrient content. It is commonly used in India and other Asian countries as a spice. Adding bay leaves to a recipe lends a rich aroma. In addition, bay leaves have innumerable medicinal properties, including herbal and aromatherapy. Although its medicinal properties are not proven, recent research reveals some surprising applications of bay leaves in modern medicine.
Traditional Use of Bay Leaves
Bay leaves were used medicinally for several centuries. They were either eaten fresh or dried and infused into lukewarm water for ingestion. The infusion resulted in a diuretic, which increased urination and removes excess water from the body. It also acts as an emetic. In addition, bay leaves have astringent properties that stops secretions related to an infection and reduces profuse sweating caused by illness. Nevertheless, these traditional uses of bay leaves were never backed up by research and modern science. Fortunately, the current technology has started researching and investigating bay leaves deeply and some startling benefits were disclosed.
Bay Leaves for Diabetes
Bay leaves are believed to have positive results on diabetics. According to the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, bay leaves can reduce the level of Type 2 diabetes. An investigation was done on humans resulted in a drop in cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood glucose. Diabetes increases the risk of heart diseases and bay leaves not just improved the function of insulin but also the markers of heart functions.
According to traditional medicine, bay lead wash or poultice helped in healing wounds. However, modern science has pointed that it works very well. According to a study published in the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2006, bay leaf extract accelerates the healing of wounds within 10 days. Bay leaf extract has antimicrobial activity, which works against pathogens like streptococcus pyogenes, staphylococcus aureus, candida albicans, and aspergillus fumigates.
Damaged hair, hair fall and dandruff are very common complaints. Steep some bay leaves in water and gently rub them on the scalp after applying shampoo. The volatile ingredients and chemicals in them can eliminate dandruff and dry skin completely.
Bay leaves have anti-inflammatory properties, which reduces inflammation. The leaves have phytonutrient properties too, called parthenolide that quickly reduced irritation and inflammation when applied topically on the affected areas.
The unique blend of organic compounds and antioxidants in bay leaves, including catechins, phytonutrients, parthenolide, and linalool, protects the body from free radical damage. Free radicals are unhealthy and can lead to cancer. Bay leaves can prevent this activity.
Many types of plants are called bay leaves. However, true bay leaf is only the Laurus Nobilis variety. Leaves from other plants cannot be taken for health benefits; in fact, other leaves may be toxic and unhealthy. One common variety called Kalmia Latifolia is poisonous and it is not bay leaf. When such bay leaves are taken, it may lead to respiratory distress and disorder of the central nervous system.