Do you think there are any uses of bay leaves to health, considering that we are advised to remove them from soups & sauces before digging in? Are they even edible?
Whichever you think, bay leaf has been a medicinal ingredient for centuries. Bay leaf is an evergreen plant of the Lauraceae family, a group of plants with aromatic leaves used for numerous purposes. They are available in fresh, whole, dried, or ground form.
The most common Bay leaves are native to Turkey. When young & tender, a bay leaf has a delicate fragrance, alongside a floral & herbal aroma & tastes slightly bitter. Typically, this flavor & smell are results of the plant’s essential oil.
Varieties of Bay Leaves
There are various references of a bay leaf, and they include:
- Bay laurel
- California bay leaf
- Indian bay leaf
- Indonesian bay leaf
- Mexican bay leaf
- West Indian bay leaf
I understand that these numerous classifications may leave you unsure of what is exactly bay leaf. Don’t be. All varieties above are bay leaves, but the true one, according to many, remains the bay laurel, which comes from the Laurus nobilis tree.
Nutritional Value of Bay Leaves
Like all herbs, Bay leaf is poor in calories while rich in antioxidants & vitamins, including polyphenols & vitamin A. A two-gram spoon of crumbled bay leaf offers approximately:
- 5.5 calories
- 1.3 grams of carbohydrates
- 0.1 gram of protein
- 0.1 gram of fat
- 0.5 gram of fiber
- 0.1 milligram of manganese (7% DV)
- 0.8 milligram of iron (4% DV)
- 108 international units of vitamin A (2% DV)
5 Major Uses of Bay Leaves to Health
So, what are bay leaves used for? Let’s hear what research has to say.
Possess Antioxidant & Antimicrobial Properties
Bay leaf & its essential oil boasts antioxidant, antimicrobial & anti-inflammatory properties, courtesy of the rich levels of antioxidants & other protective compounds that the plant contains. This herb is a host to over 80 beneficial compounds, including eucalyptol, linalool, polyphenols & sabinene.
A study organized by the Agriculture & Technical State University, North Carolina, centered on the antioxidant & antimicrobial effects of certain essential oils found in geranium, white wormwood & bay laurel on fresh farm produce, specifically focusing on their ability to combat harmful bacteria such as E. coli & Salmonella. At the end of the study, all three essential oils demonstrated antioxidants’ protective ability, with bay laurel’s activities standing out as the most laudable.
Several studies have reported similar conclusions. Therefore, there are strong indications that Laurus nobilis can protect against various health concerns, thanks to its levels of volatile & non-volatile oils, phytochemicals, tannins, flavon & alkaloids.
Demonstrate Antifungal Properties
According to studies, bay leaf is an antifungal agent. A publication in the Archives of Oral Biology revealed that bay laurel essential oil helps to prevent candida. The study reported that this oil disallowed candida’s unhealthy association with cell walls, thereby cutting down its ability to invade the membrane. Judging from this, bay leaf makes an excellent inclusion in any candida diet since it is antifungal.
Apart from its fungal-fighting effects, the bay leaf extract has been used in animal models to hasten up the healing processes from wounds. It may not be as effective as plants specifically meant for treating wounds, such as the Allamanda cathartica, but it certainly improved the condition of participants on whom it was used & there was a clear difference from the progress of the control group.
Likely to Possess Anti-cancer Properties
Research on the abilities of bay laurel extract has hinted that the fruits & leaves of the Laurus nobilis can fight breast cancers. A specific study reported that bay leaf is a natural agent for breast cancer treatment after comparing the state of cells treated with the extract with that of other cells in the control group. The cells induced by the extract experienced apoptosis (cell death), thereby earmarking the herb as a possible cure for breast cancer.
Another publication by Nutrition and Cancer indicates that this extract can also be used against colorectal cancer. The effects of leaf extract against the growth of cells causing colon cancer were measured in a couple of vitro studies. This was largely done by incorporating bay leaves into diet, and the results suggested that the leaves could be useful in fighting colon cancer. From these studies, researchers could also conclude that bay leaf may combat colorectal cancer if detected early enough.
May Be Useful in Treating Diabetes
There is the possibility that bay leaf can positively impact the levels of blood sugar. One study realized that by consuming powdered bay leaves two times daily, the levels of bad LDL cholesterol & blood sugar reduced in participants.
However, take note that these participants did not stop the usage of their conventional diabetes medication. It’s just that they experienced better results compared to a placebo group, even boasting a higher level of HDL good cholesterol.
The Journal of Clinical Biochemistry & Nutrition published research that reported that bay laurel might enhance insulin function, although the study was originally to determine if bay leaves could influence type 2 diabetes.
In the study. Forty participants were treated with a bay leaf capsule of various amounts (depending on their overall health) for a period of 30 days. At the end of the study, every participant experienced decreased total cholesterol & serum glucose levels, but such progress was not reported in the control group. As a result, these researchers concluded that regular intake of bay leaves might reduce the risk of developing diabetes & even heart diseases.
Bay leaf promotes urination and, in doing so, prevents gastric damage. This is because urination improves kidney health & purges toxins from the body. The leaf also contains some enzymes that may provide relief to an upset stomach, improve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) & defend against kidney stones.
Concluding The Uses of Bay Leaves to Health
The uses of bay leaves to health can be enjoyed by steeping the leaves in hot water or tea, by using the essential oil, by using the extract, or by using in foods. Increase the percentage of bay leaves in your diet & ensure regular consumption. Stay healthy.