Bay tree, or bay laurel, scientific name laurus nobilis, is a plant belonging to the Lauraceae family. The leaves of this plant are often used in cooking to flavor meat dishes or soups, but the properties of the laurel do not end there. Indeed, bay leaf has important healthy properties, it helps keep at bay blood sugar and cholesterol levels, it has also an anti cancer action, it is healing in case of wounds and improves digestion.
Bay leaf, diabetes, blood sugar and cholesterol
On the basis of scientific research (Khan et al, J Clin Biochem Nutr, 2009), in fact, the intake of capsules containing 1 gram of ground bay leaves was able in 30 days to reduce by 21% the blood sugar levels and by 20 % the total cholesterol with a huge drop in LDL cholesterol, also called bad cholesterol, even up to 32% less. A reduction in triglycerides, down by 34%, was also observed, while HDL cholesterol, or good cholesterol, increased by 29%. These results therefore indicate that bay laurel leaves are a very interesting remedy to reduce the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular diseases as well as being an aid in case of type 2 diabetes.
Bay leaves and skin
Bay leaves are also antibacterial, analgesic and anti-inflammatory, useful for wounds but also for acne (Chaudhry et al, Pak J Pharm Sci, Jul 2006 - Sayyah et al, Phytother Res, Aug 2003 - Lee et al, In J Mol Ski, Jul 2019). In fact, bay leaf extracts are able to inhibit the action of Propionibacterium acnes, one of the bacteria considered to be the main cause of acne and folliculitis. Therefore, in case of skin irritations, pimples and blackheads you can spray a bay leaf hydrolat on your face, you can find it easily in specialized shops and online. Alternatively, you can add 1 drop of bay leaf essential oil to your usual face cream or you can boil a pan full of water and 7-8 bay leaves, remove from heat and expose the skin to these vapors.
Bay leaf tea for poor digestion
Bay leaf tea is known for its carminative and digestive properties (Dall'Acqua et al, J Med Food, Aug 2009). Therefore, in case of intoxication, poor digestion, fermentation, tiredness and headache after a meal you can try to prepare a bay leaf tea. Get a dozen fresh bay leaves, rub them quickly and brew them in a liter of boiling water for ten minutes. If you don't have the fresh product you can use a teaspoon of dried bay leaves. Filter and drink this very aromatic and healthy herbal tea after meals.
Bay leaves and tumors
Finally, bay leaves contain essential oils with proven antioxidant and antitumor action. In particular, in lab, these essential oils have been able to inhibit the proliferation of some types of breast cancer and leukemia, by promoting apoptosis, that is the programmed death, of bad cells (Saab et al, Nat Prod Res, 2012 - Abu-Dahab et al, Records of Natural Products, 2014). Clearly, other scientific studies are needed for a possible future use.
Pay attention to use only true bay leaves, laurus nobilis, and if in doubt buy ready-made leaves, herbal teas or hydrolats in herbalist’s or chemist’s shops. In fact, often other plants are indicated with the term laurel and these can also result toxic (Raman et al, Planta Med, Aug 2007).