What are Bay Leaves?
There are many kinds of plants that bear leaves referred to as “bay leaves,” but the actual bay leaf is scientifically called Laurus nobilis. This nutrient-rich variety is well discussed in the article. Many other confusing leaves have a similar aroma and appearance like actual bay leaves but do not contain the same nutrient. This plant is a medium-sized tree indigenous to the Mediterranean region. Laurel trees were present throughout the region, but climate changes have diminished their presence. However, these leaves have functioned well in the medicinal and culinary world for decades, dating back to Roman times.
Bay leaves are well known for their strength to protect our body from oxidative stress and aid in diabetes management. They may also help improve cardiac health, alleviating respiratory issues, reducing inflammation, and optimizing digestion.
Some bay leaves used in cooking may not likely change the nutritional frame of your dish being prepared. Typically, the leaves are removed from the dish before you consume your meal. Even if the leaves are left in your casserole, soup, or any other dish, it does not give any significant macronutrients or micronutrients.
If bay leaves crushed are taken in a dish, you may benefit from a lot of nutritional benefits. A tablespoon serving of bay leaves provides almost five calories, basically in the form of carbohydrates. The 4micronutrients in bay leaves are retinol (vitamin A), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), iron, manganese, and calcium.
How to Use Bay Leaves
The uses of these bay leaves include grinding these broad leaves into a spice to give flavor to our soups and stews, but they are most often included in their entire form as a flavoring spice for some Italian dishes. Entire leaves are not commonly consumed. There is no specific extensive range of culinary applications for these bay leaves, although extracts from these leaves have a lot of medical uses. These leaves are also very popular in herbal treatments and aromatherapy for various respiratory and skin conditions.
What Are The Benefits Of Bay Leaf?
Shall we now go through the benefits one could reap from these amazing broad leaves?
Aid Diabetes Treatment
Studies have shown that bay leaves may help people with diabetes type 2. More to rendering flavor to our foods, these leaves were also discovered to play a significant role in glucose metabolism.
Bay leaves also lowered bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and raised levels of good cholesterol (HDL in patients with diabetes type 2.
Bay leaves may also lower food cravings, thus reducing body weight. However, more studies are necessary to fully understand the action of bay leaves on weight loss.
Bay leaves have been utilized traditionally to ease symptoms of constipation and other gut-related ailments. According to Medicinal Plants of South Asia Journal, bay leaves do not only give flavor and taste to our food, but also aid to give relief from abdominal pain, flatulence, gastrointestinal infections, bloating, and diarrhea. It is also utilized as a diuretic. However, more research study is needed to aim at the effects of these bay leaves to prove their efficacy on digestion.
Set Cancer Ablaze
Several researchers are seriously seeking new approaches to treat and permanently prevent breast cancer. A new study has discovered that the extracts from the bay leaf plant are an organic option that might be helpful. The extract may help ward off cancer cells by aiding apoptosis or planned cell death.
Treat Your Wounds
Studies so far have proved that these leaf extract’s healing prowess may lower inflammation in the wound areas. While these experiments were conducted on rats, researchers are optimistic that these bay leaves could function similarly in humans. If so, the aged norm of using these leaves for treatment would finally have some scientific proof.
In an Australian research study, bay leaves, among some other leaves, was found to hamper the activities of the COX-21 enzyme. COX-21 is well known to cause inflammation.
Bay leaves contain sesquiterpene lactones, which are well known to combat inflammation by hindering the synthesis of nitric oxide. Studies proved that nitric oxide, in very high concentrations, may lead to inflammation. These nitric oxide inhibitors serve as potential options to treat inflammatory diseases.
Cineole, an active compound in bay leaves, was also proved to combat inflammation. It achieves these by inhibiting the activities of the inflammasome, another compound for the activation of inflammatory responses.
Relieve Respiratory Conditions
Bay leaves have very strong antibacterial properties, according to research in the Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. When bay leaves’ essential oil is extracted, it could be mixed into a paste and applied to the chest region to help alleviate all kinds of respiratory conditions. This can also be made possible with a cataplasm (poultice) made of the leaves. Spread the poultice on the chest region and allow it to stay overnight. Inhaling its vapor has a similar mode of action to aromatherapy and can soften the phlegm and wipe off dangerous microorganisms that may be trapped in the respiratory tracts, all thanks to its amazing antibacterial quality.
Treat Kidney Stones
A 2014 study investigated whether bay leaves extract could prevent kidney stones. The study discovered that, together with eight other ethnomedicinal herbs, bay leaves were able to lower the amount of urease in the human body.
Urease is an enzyme that causes several gastric complications, such as kidney stones, when out of balance. But the researchers suggested that additional research studies should be carried out to understand how the herbs function.
Help Fight Fungal Infections
Some studies highlight the antifungal strength of bay leaves, especially against deadly Candida infection. The leaves may prevent the adhesion of Candida pathogens to the cell walls, thereby avoiding their penetration into the membrane. More studies are also required to better understand how bay leaves could work to combat fungal infections.
Improve Hair Health
Are you worried about the present state of your health? Would you love to have a more desirable one? Anecdotal pieces of evidence suggest that bay leaves perform wonders to combat dandruff and lower alopecia (hair fall problems). If you want to boost the health of your hair follicles and ward off dandruff, a natural way is to steep some bay leaves in water and then rub the salve on your scalp after shampooing. The compounds and other volatile ingredients in them may assist in eliminating dandruff and dry skin. Having said all these, there is, therefore, a lack of scientific proofs supporting the benefits of these bay leaves on hair, and hence more studies need to be carried out.
Can It Solve Brain Disorders?
Ancient books refer to bay leaves as a treatment for seizures. In some recent studies, researchers decided to try finding out how this legend could be proved scientifically. They found out that bay leaves extract was effective in protecting some tested rats against seizures. This is possible because of these extract’s unique chemical constituent.
Scientists hope to base their researches on this new research to start studying the effect of this extract on humans. Bay leaves might be very able to assist people diagnosed with epilepsy.
11. May Aid Wound Healing
In some rat studies, bay leaves were found to contribute to better wound treatment than the control. Though these didn’t fare better than Allamanda (a shrub used in ethnomedicine) in terms of treating wounds, it did exhibit beneficial effects.
12. Protect Heart Health
Rutin and caffeic acid are both vital organic compounds in bay leaves that help to boost our cardiac health. Rutin gives strength to the capillary walls of the heart and over the body’s extremities, while caffeic acid aid in eliminating bad cholesterol or LDL from the cardiovascular (heart) system.
13. Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Linalool is majorly associated with basil and thyme, but it is also found in bay leaves. This compound may help reduce the level of stress hormones in our body, especially in aromatherapy. Excess stress hormones are dangerous for our health, so bay leaf can help calm you and remain cool and relaxed even in your most anxious moments.
Possible Side Effects
Despite the spiking health benefits of this herb, some cautions need to be taking on its use. Bay leaves should not be taken whole. The leaf stays intact and may not be digested. It gets lodged in your throat or causes some damage to the gut.
Bay leaves, and ground bay leaves are safe when taken in amounts majorly found in food. It is also expected to be safe when taken medicinally for very short periods. However, there are not enough scientific shreds of evidence to prove the effects of these leaves if higher doses could be consumed or if it could be used for a long period.