Bay leaves add flavor to vegetables, stews, sauces, and fish dishes, but there are also other, non-culinary uses for this aromatic herb. For example, they can be used to soothe aches and pains or greatly improve health.
Sausages, stuffed peppers or any red sauces, marinated meat or stews taste better when you add a few bay leaves. Laurel, as it is also called, has been a popular spice in gastronomy since 1652, when Maria de Medici’s personal chef wrote a book praising its qualities. Its first use in history we know about was in ancient Greece and Rome by Olympic winners, poets, and philosophers, who wore laurel wreaths on their heads as a sign of victory.
Bay leaves have noteworthy pharmaceutical properties. For therapeutic purposes, they can be used as an infusion, decoction, or ointment, but probably bay tea is most often recommended. What health problems can bay leaves cure?
1. A natural antiviral
An excellent expectorant with antiviral properties, bay leaves can be useful in the treatment of bronchitis, flu, and sinusitis, as they clear sinusitis and reduce nasal discharge thanks to the essential oils they contain. For a guaranteed effect, drink bay tea made from 10 leaves added to a cup of boiling water. You can consume the infusion 3 times a day, especially to treat a cold.
You can also apply laurel essential oil directly to your chest before bedtime to improve the functioning of your respiratory system. Inhaling the oil vapors stimulates mucus expectoration and calms coughing fits.
2. Normalize blood sugar
To help regulate your blood sugar levels, especially in the case of incipient diabetes, you can make an infusion of bay leaves with 10 leaves and 600 ml of boiling water. Leave the pot wrapped in a towel or any thick cloth for 3 hours. Drink 150-200 ml in the morning on an empty stomach, then 3 times during the rest of the day, divided into equal doses, 30 minutes before a meal.
3. Adjuvant in digestive problems
The whole gastrointestinal system benefits from bay leaves used in infusion or decoction. The active substances in bay leaves stimulate digestion and soothe abdominal cramps or symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Laurel has a diuretic and nausea-reducing effect and can even be used in cases of poisoning, as it helps the body to eliminate ingested toxic substances. The circulatory system can also benefit from the antioxidants in bay leaves. Caffeic acid in this aromatic herb also helps eliminate bad cholesterol from the blood.
4. Soothe menstrual cramps
Not only can they soothe menstrual cramps, but bay leaves also help regulate the menstrual cycle. To enjoy such beneficial effects, drink bay tea made from 2 tablespoons of chopped leaves added to 250 ml of boiling water and infused for 10 minutes. Bay leaf tea can also reduce inflammation in the body. The phytonutrients contained in laurel are also beneficial for people suffering from joint pain or rashes, as it reduces irritation.
Joints become more mobile after 2 weeks of daily consumption of two cups of a mixture of 2-3 crushed bay leaves, 3 cloves, 1 tablespoon of flax seeds, dill, coriander, and cumin. Infuse half a teaspoon of this mixture and drink during meals, 2 times a day. The recipe is contraindicated for people suffering from stomach ulcers.
5. Combats anxiety and insomnia
Linalool is the active ingredient in bay leaves that lowers stress hormone levels, reduces anxiety, and helps rest better at night.
In small amounts, bay leaves do not represent a health hazard. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not use them, however, as it is not yet known what effect it may have on the fetus or infant.