Bay leaf is an aromatic leaf from the evergreen bay laurel tree, native to the Mediterranean. It is most widely used in cooking and preparing perfumes. You have smelt the aroma or have even seen a small bit of it in jollof rice before.
Bay leaf generally referred to as Mediterranean bay leaf traces its origins in Asia Minor region. There are different types of plants whose leaves are referred to as “bay leaves”, in fact some similarly named plants are poisonous and should not be used under any circumstances.
The true bay leaf is scientifically known as Laurus nobilis, and this is the nutrient-rich variety that we are discussing here. Some of the most impressive health benefits of bay leaves include their ability to detoxify the body, slow the ageing process. The various benefits of bay leaf can be attributed to its rich nutritional value. The leaf is exceptionally rich in vitamins as well as copper, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, selenium and manganese. They also contain essential phytochemicals and volatile oils. Though it has a few side effects, using it to spice your jollof rice once in a while should not pose any problem.
Below are some health benefits of bay leaves:
Treatment of Diabetes
Bay leaves have been found to be effective in treating type 2 diabetes because they cause reduction of blood glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. To get maximum results, these leaves can be powdered and consumed for 30 days. This will cause a drop in sugar levels in the body as well as regulate the functioning of your heart. This is because the antioxidants in bay leaf enable the body to process insulin more efficiently, thus making it a good choice for diabetics and people with insulin resistance.
Good for digestion
Bay leaves are good for promoting digestion and can treat digestive disorders such as heartburn and flatulence. Drinking a concoction of bay leaf tea with hot water can alleviate common digestive disorders like constipation, acid reflux and irregular bowel movements.
The powerful phyto nutrients in bay leaf provide protection against cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. They contain valuable compounds such as rutin, salicylates, caffeic acid and phytonutrients which boost heart health and improve heart function.
Treatment of cold and infection
Bay leaves are effective in fighting the symptoms of cold, flu and infections. In case of respiratory problems, boil water and add 2 to 3 bay leaves. Allow it to steam for 10 minutes. Soak a cloth in this water and place it on your chest to alleviate flu, cold and cough. Bay leaf tea is effective in reducing fever.
The oil extracted from bay leaf has anti-inflammatory properties which can ease the pain resulting from sprains, strains, arthritis, rheumatism as well as general pains and aches. Massaging your temples with bay leaf oil helps to relieve migraines and headaches. It also boosts circulation and promotes a feeling of well-being. If you have joint pain, you can make a poultice of ground bay leaves and castor leaves, and tie it around the inflamed joints to reduce pain and swelling. In case of headache, you can boil a few bay leaves in water for a few minutes. Strain and drink this concoction while it is still hot. You can apply a paste of bay leaves on your forehead to get a relief from severe headache.