Who doesn’t like a good bad pun, amirite?
The miracle product I’m talking about is the “BAY” LEAF! Geddit?! Okay, that wasn’t a good bad pun…more like a really bad pun.
Well, anyway, this little thing has been used in cooking and medicine for centuries.
I’m Indian, so I only know about the way it was used in this part of the world. But apparently, it was also used extensively by the Greeks and Romans (which I could’ve gone on and on about here, but a) I’m hella lazy to do the research and b) I don’t really think anyone is on my blog for a history lesson).
Anyway, there’s also supposed to be quite a few species of bay leaves, and all of them won’t have the same benefits. Again, I only know about the Indian kind, so make sure you get it from an Indian store.
A quick note on safety though – make sure you always, always do an allergy test before consuming or applying something new, especially if you intend to take it in large amounts or on a consistent basis. Let’s be safe!
Plus, if you’re a pregnant and/or lactating momma, it’s best to consult a trusted healthcare practitioner before consuming Bay Leaf. Or anything new, really.
Alsooo if taken in sizeable quantities, the bay leaf is known to induce relaxation by suppressing the CNS (Central Nervous System). So make sure you don’t have a truck-load of this stuff before you go under the knife for anything which would require a general anesthetic.
So here are some tried and tested benefits of the humble bay leaf (you can also read up on a few ways you can include the bay leaf in your diet at the end of this article).
Benefits of the Bay Leaf
Digestive Benefits of the Bay Leaf
The Bay Leaf is a true digestive powerhouse.
It contains certain plant-based enzymes that help in the digestion and break down of protein molecules. People on a muscle-building diet or a highly protein-enriched diet take note!
It also helps with issues like bloating, gas and indigestion. Those suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome actually have a wonderful natural remedy in the Bay Leaf to manage the disease.
Recent studies suggest the Bay Leaf can also be used to manage symptoms of Celiac disease.
It is also a very effective appetite stimulant.
BONUS – because improper digestion and bowel movements are one of the BIG reasons behind acne, you can expect your acne to completely clear up by regularly consuming this stuff (if this is indeed the cause though – always better to consult your doctor!)
Anti-infective Properties of the Bay Leaf – Ingestive + Topical
Few other concoctions of nature are as potent as the Bay Leaf when it comes to fighting off infections.
The bay leaf is anti-bacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal and acts against a range of pathogens.
It is effective both when ingested as well as applied topically.
Additionally, it is a pretty potent cure for respiratory ills such as colds, sore throats etc.
Bay Leaf as a Rapid Wound Healer
As mentioned above, it is a wonderful agent against certain classes of virus, bacteria and fungi. So when applied topically to cuts and bruises, it has been scientifically proven to accelerate wound healing and skin closure.
Studies also show that Bay Leaf extract helps fade scars.
- The Bay Leaf as an Anti-Dandruff Hair RinsePost-shampoo, make yourself a Bay Leaf rinse to apply on your hair and you’ll be reaping the benefits of a healthy scalp in no time. Completely eliminates dandruff, this thing.BONUS – with a healthy scalp, comes shiny, thick hair. Bay leaf also helps when you have hair loss – which means you’re getting lustrous, thick hair!
Anti-cancer properties of the Bay Leaf
Taken on a consistent basis, this is a wonderful guard against cancer as it contains a host of phytonutrients and catechins.
Not only is it a preventive but in fact, some studies have shown that certain phytonutrients in the bay leaf can kill off breast cancer cells. It is also known to contain parthenolide which restrains the multiplication of cervical cancer cells.
If this leaf isn’t a miracle, I don’t know what is.
The Bay Leaf as a Pain Reliever/Anti-Inflammatory
It has been used to relieve joint pain, muscle sprains, and even arthritis and rheumatism. Other general aches and pains can also be cured by the Bay Leaf, such as headaches.
The Bay Leaf as a Relaxant
Finding it tough to calm down? The Bay Leaf extract is a proven tool to suppress anxiety, stress and to help reduce insomnia.
The Bay Leaf Against Lifestyle Diseases
Did you know that the Bay Leaf is a proven cure for the treatment of Diabetes? If taken on a consistent, twice a day schedule, it lowers the resistance to insulin.
It can also be taken by people at-risk for developing type 2 Diabetes as a preventive.
Just make sure you regularly monitor your blood glucose levels to observe the changes. Consulting a knowledgeable health care practitioner is advised!
Cholesterol and Heart-Health
The Bay Leaf is also an effective remedy for cholesterol. It prevents plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries, thereby preventing blockages (bloackages are the causes of heart attacks and strokes!).
Now that you know of some of the benefits, let’s also have a look at how you can have it:
Ways to Incorporate Bay Leaf in your Diet
1. Bay Leaf Tea –
Take 5g of powdered Bay Leaf and boil it in 200mL of water. Simmer until only a quarter of it is left. Drink the concoction as is or feel free to add in other Natural Powerhouses such as honey, cinnamon, ginger etc.
Wonderful against respiratory ailments, digestive troubles, headaches and insomnia.
2. Bay Leaf Steam –
Take a bowl full of water and boil it with 4 or 5 bay leaves. Then (carefully!) dip your head towards the bowl, cover your head and the bowl with a large sheet or towel and inhale the steam.
Rapidly effective for respiratory ailments including congestion, sinusitis, fevers etc.
Can also be used as a wonderful pore and skin detoxing and relaxing agent – if your face needs a little pick-me-up.
3. Bay Leaf paste
Take 500g of bay leaf powder and mix it in with some castor extract or ucalyptus oil. Add just enough oil (or water if you’re using castor extract) to make a thick paste.
An amazing remedy for aches and pains – apply on joints twice or thrice a day. You can also try this on your forehead the next time a headache strikes.
4. Including Bay Leaf in your diet
In Indian cuisine, the Bay Leaf is a really common cooking ingredient. It is used while cooking many kinds of curries and other kinds of dishes. Once the flavour has been infused, the bay leaf is generally taken out of the serving dish.
This ensures that the best benefits of the bay leaf are accommodated into one’s diet –
against lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, cholesterol, cancer;
as a tool for digestion;
as an anti-inflammatory;
as a relaxant;
as an immune-booster etc.
I think this is probably the best and most consistent way to incorporate the bay leaf into your diet.
I’m sure there are more benefits of bay leaves that I’ve missed out on – as well as many, many more remedies that modern medical science hasn’t caught up with yet!
Do you think you’re going to use this Nature’s Wonder for anything? Let me know in the comments =)