This is a continuation of my Spice Series. Welcome to my information on Bay Leaves!

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Illustration by Christy Beckwith

 

**The bay leaf comes from the bay laurel tree, an evergreen that originates from the Mediterranean region.

**People have been using bay leaves for thousands of years. In ancient Greek and Roman times, bay leaves were the symbol of wisdom and glory, and victorious athletes, scholars, and leaders were crowned with laurel wreaths and branches.

**Due to its’ ancient roots, there is plenty of superstition surrounding the Bay leaf. There is a belief that bay leaves can help grant wishes if you write down a wish on paper, put a bay leaf on the paper, fold the paper 3 times and put it in a safe place. It is also said that if you grow a Bay tree, it will protect your home and ward off illnesses. In addition, when a new baby is born, if you celebrate by planting a bay tree, it will bring you luck.

**Whatever you think of the superstitions, bay leaves are for certain known for their culinary use and have been studied closely recently for their medicinal benefits. In addition, a bay tree can be grown in a pot for indoor or outdoor use, and it looks beautiful as well.
**Due to the vast amount of information on Bay Leaves, I will only be posting about the medicinal benefits today. Click here for my post on How to Grow Bay Leaves. Click here for my post on the Culinary Uses of Bay Leaves.

 

Medicinal Benefits:

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**Bay leaves are one of the most powerful antioxidants in existence. In fact, researchers have actually studied the antioxidant power of over 120 herbs, spices, and vegetables, and bay leaves were at the top of the list!

**Bay leaves are also rich in iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A and C.

**They are also famous for their astringent properties, which can be helpful for skin toners, helping infections, preventing illnesses, and more.

 

Bay leaf may also help prevent and/or treat:

  • Arthritis:

**Bay leaf has been a traditional remedy for arthritis for a long time. Researchers have discovered that bay leaves contain anti-inflammatory properties as well as volatile oils that alleviate arthritic pain.  Bay leaves also work for joint pain, strains, or sprains for reducing pain and inflammation.

  • Bug Repellant:

**Bay leaf essential oil (like this) has long been a traditional remedy for repelling mosquitoes. It is also great for keeping other bugs and insects away. If you put bay leaves (whole or ground) in your cabinets or on your floors, they are powerful natural insecticides. You can also put bay leaves in your linen closets to prevent bad smells, insects, and moths.

  • Cancer:

**Studies have shown that the chemical compound in bay leaf called ‘parthenolide’ slows the growth of some types of cancer cells, including breast cancer, leukemia, and cervical cancer.

  • Diabetes, Type 2:

**The powerful anti-oxidant properties of bay leaves has been found to be very effective against type 2 diabetes. Researchers have been studying the effects on humans and have found that bay leaf supplements have given big drops in blood sugar levels for those with diabetes.

  • Digestion:

**Bay leaves have traditionally been used for many years to treat many types of stomach and digestive problems. Researchers have been studying the bay leaf oils in animal studies and have found that it stimulates stomach acids that help break down foods as well as prevents stomach ulcers. More research needs to be done on the effect on humans.

  • Food Poisoning:

**Scientists have been studying the effect of bay leaf on food poisoning in animals. They have discovered that bay leaves fight bacteria and germs in a way that helps your body overcome food poisoning such as E. Coli and Salmonella. More research has to be done on the effect on humans.

  • Wound Healing:

**Researchers have been studying bay leaf’s oils and have found that the volatile oils have helped speed up the healing of wounds. It is best used as a poultice to help heal wounds.

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**Having a hard time finding good quality bay leaves? Here is a suggestion.

**If you are curious about using Bay Leaf essential oil, but you don’t know how to use them or where to start, you might find some of the books on essential oils at Plant Therapy helpful.

 

**Do YOU use bay leaves for medicinal benefits? If so, how? Please feel free to add your suggestions or ideas in the comment section below.

**Check out my How to Grow Bay Leaves post for some great additional information. Check out my Culinary Uses for Bay Leaves post as well.

**Click here for the introduction to my Spice Series.

 

 

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