Bay leaf is indigenous to Asia Minor, from where it spread to the Mediterranean region and other favourable countries. Bay leaf cannot survive in colder climates, which counts as one of the main reasons for it not being cultivated in northern regions. Turkey is one of the leading exporters of bay leaves, along with countries like France, Belgium, Italy, Russia, Colombia, Central America, North America and India. The laurel tree, from which the bay leaf is derived from, holds an important place both symbolically and literally in both Greece and Rome. The laurel tree is a symbol of honour in these cultures and is one of the central components in many ancient mythologies. Bay leaf has its wide use in culinary dishes in Europe and North America.
For anyone who has a good knowledge of Mediterranean or South Asian cuisines, knows the importance of bay leaves in the food. It is quite surprising how a single ingredient can drastically change the flavour of the food. Bay leaf is one of the oldest spices used by mankind to add flavour and aroma to food. A native of Asia Minor, bay leaf has become an important part of regions spreading across France and Turkey to Far North America and India.
Bay leaf is a common fixture in European and North American dishes, such as soups, stews, meat, seafood and other vegetable dishes. Bay leaves serve as an important constituent in “garam masala”, a fine combination of different ground spices in India.
Read further through the following sections to know the marvellous benefits that bay leaf provides to your health with its distinctive flavour and fragrance.
Bay leaf greatly helps indigestion. It is used as a natural remedy in a wide range of digestive disorders. Not only does it help in settling the stomach but also reduces the severity of problems, like celiac disease or irritable bowel syndrome. It effectively reduces flatulence and other gas-related problems. It contains enzymes which break down proteins and help in digesting meat dishes.
Bay leaf, when applied to the chest in the form of bay leaf compress, provides great relief to respiratory and chest troubles, such as coughs, flu, bronchitis, and chest infections. Further, it also helps in inducing sweat and reducing fever.
Washing the scalp with cold water, with bay leaves steeped in it, after shampooing effectively treats dandruff. Alternatively, you can add ten to fifteen drops of bay leaf essential oil to your shampoo to get rid of dandruff.
Bay leaf contains Parthenolide, a phytonutrient which has anti-inflammatory properties. As such, massaging with bay leaf essential oil helps in relieving joint and muscle pains, including arthritis pain.
Bay leaf contains the phytonutrients, caffeic acid and rutin, as well as salicylates. These phytonutrients protect the heart and lower the risk of strokes and heart attack.
Bay leaf is a good source of Linalool, a compound which is also found in herbs, such as thyme and basil. This compound has long been used as a relaxing fragrance in aromatherapy. Studies reveal that this calming aroma has protective effects on the immune system like shielding the body from negative effects of stress.
Bay leaf helps in regulating blood sugar levels. The compounds present in bay leaves facilitate the quick processing of insulin, thereby preventing spikes in blood sugar levels.
The various phytonutrients, caffeic acid, catechins, eugenol, parthenolide and quercetin, present in bay leaves help in protecting the body from many different kinds of cancer.