Benefits of bay leaf
. Bay leaf, commonly known as Tejpatta in India, is an aromatic leaf from the evergreen bay laurel tree, native to the Mediterranean. It is most widely used in cooking and preparing perfumes. The Indian bay leaf is basically a three veined leaf which is elliptical, pointed, smooth and tough. These leaves are pungent and have a sharp, bitter flavor. Their taste and fragrance are somewhat similar to the cinnamon bark but slightly milder. They are used in fresh, dried or powdered form.
What is Bay Leaf
. It is called Tej Patta in Hindi, Indian bay leaf, Malabar leaf, Indian cassia, Indian cassia bark or Tamala cassia. It is a tough, three veined leaf that is popular in India and used in Indian cooking and for preparing perfumes. It is a small to moderately sized ever green tree. The three veined leaf is elliptical, pointed. smooth and tough. The flavor and fragrance is similar to the cinnamon bark but slightly milder. The leaves are used either fresh, dried (both whole leaves or powdered form. Oil is also extracted (Bay leaf oil) to treat such ailments.
Bay laurel Laurus nobilis lauraceae
. These leaves are used in both their fresh and dried forms to flavor soups, stews, braises etc in Mediterranean cuisine. The fresh leaves have a milder flavor and they take several weeks after drying and picking to develop their full flavor.
California Bay Leaf Umbellularia californica
. California Bay Leaf (Umbellularia californica):Also known as California laurel, pepperwood and Oregon myrtle, this variety is similar to the Mediterranean bay laurel but has a stronger flavor.
Indian Bay Leaf Cinnamomum tamala Lauraceae
. Indian Bay Leaf (Cinnamomum tamala, Lauraceae):Indian Bay leaf or malabathrum is somewhat similar in appearance to bay laurel but has a taste and fragrance similar to cinnamon bark which is slightly milder.
Indonesian Bay Leaf
. Indonesian Bay Leaf or Indonesian laurelNative to Indonesia, this herb is mostly used for meats and less often for vegetables.
West Indian Bay Leaf
. West Indian Bay Leaf This variety is mostly used to produce cologne called bay rum. Bay leaves contain notable plant derived compounds, vitamins and minerals which offer a range of benefits.
Treatment of Diabetes
. Bay leaves have been found to be effective in treating type 2 diabetes as they cause reduction in blood glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. To get maximum results, these leaves can be powdered and consumed for 30 days. This will cause a drop in sugar levels in the body as well as regulate the functioning of your heart.
Good for Digestion
. Bay leaves are good for promoting digestion and can treat digestive disorders such as heartburn and flatulence. Drinking a concoction of bay leaf tea with hot water can alleviate common digestive disorders like constipation, acid reflux and irregular bowel movements. It contains enzymes that enable the breakdown of proteins, thus making it an excellent spice for non vegetarian diets.
. The powerful phytonutrients in bay leaf provide protection against cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. They contain valuable compounds such as rutin, salicylates, caffeic acid and phytonutrients which boost heart health and improve heart function. In case of heart disease and anxiety, boil 3 grams of bay leaves and 3 4 grams of wild rose flowers in 300 ml water till only 75 ml remains. Strain and drink this concoction for relief.
Treatment of Cold and Infection
. Bay leaves are effective in fighting the symptoms of cold, flu and infections. In case of respiratory problems, boil water and add 2 to 3 bay leaves. Allow it to steam for 10 minutes. Soak a cloth in this water and place it on your chest to alleviate flu, cold and cough. Bay leaf tea is effective in reducing fever. In case of repeated sneezing, boil some bay leaves in 200 ml water till ? remains. Strain and drink this concoction.
Anti cancer Properties
. Bay leaf contains caffeic acid, quercetin, euganol and catechins all of which possess chemo protective properties which provide resistance against different types of cancer. They also contain a phytonutrient called parthenolide which has shown to specifically restrain the proliferation of cervical cancer cells.
Beneficial during Periconception Period
. Being rich in folic acid, bay leaves are extremely beneficial during the periconception period (3 months before and after pregnancy).By providing sufficient folic acid content to the child; they prevent birth defects in the child. These leaves also have the property of inducing pregnancy.
Treatment of Menstrual Problems
. Bay leaves, when taken orally, can induce regular and normal menstruation. They also have the property of curing vaginal discharge. The oil extracted from bay leaf has anti inflammatory properties which can ease the pain resulting from sprains, strains, arthritis, rheumatism as well as general pains and aches.
. Consuming bay leaves at bedtime helps to induce proper sleep. For this purpose, mix a few drops of the bay leaf extract with water and consume it. They also have the property of repelling flies, moths, mice etc. Apart from their culinary uses, they have medicinal properties and are known for their anti bacterial, anti fungal, anti inflammatory, diuretic and astringent qualities.
Treatment of Nosebleed
. In case of nosebleed, crush 2 to 3 fresh or dry bay leaves. Boil them in 200 ml water till 100 ml remains. Strain and drink this concoction for relief. bay leaf offers various benefits to your skin and has been used in herbal medicine for this purpose.
. To get sparkling white teeth, brush them with powdered bay leaves once in 3 days. The various benefits of bay leaf can be attributed to its rich nutritional value. These leaves are exceptionally rich in vitamins as well as copper, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, selenium and manganese.
. Bay leaves are a great insect repellent as they contain lauric acid. A dish of bay leaves will ward off insects. A paste made from crushed leaves and little oil relieves stings and bites when applied topically.
Treatment of Kidney Problems
. Bay leaves help in treating kidney infections and even kidney stones. For this purpose, boil 5 grams bay leaves in 200 ml water till 50 ml water remains. Strain and drink this twice daily. This will stop the formation of kidney stones.
Relieves Stressed Skin
. Bay leaf helps to de stress your skin, thus preventing the occurrence of wrinkles and skin outbreaks. For this purpose, boil 5 dried bay leaves with 2 cups of water, keeping the container covered. Then remove the lid and let it boil for about 2 minutes. Now pour the brew into a large bowl and covering your head with a towel, inhale this steam.
. Bay leaf has excellent healing properties. It was often used by herbal practitioners for treating snakebite, insect stings and relieving cuts and bruises. Bay leaf oil has antifungal and anti bacterial properties which can cure skin infections. It is applied topically to heal cuts, bruises and insect bites.
Treatment of Dandruff and Hair Loss
. A rinse made from infused bay leaves is effective in treating dandruff. Bay leaf tea is considered a great remedy for hair loss. Bay leaf oil is a tonic for hair that effectively combats dandruff and hair loss.
Treatment of Head Lice
. For getting rid of head lice, boil about 50 grams of crushed bay leaves in 400 ml water until 100 ml water remains. Strain out the water and apply this on the hair roots. Leave it for 3 to 4 hours and wash off. This will remove the head lice effectively. Adding bhringraj to the bay leaves before boiling will make your hair black, lustrous and healthy.
Rich source of Vitamin C
. Bay leaves are a rich source of Vitamin C. 100 grams of fresh bay leaves provides about 46.5 mg of this vitamin which is equivalent to 77.5% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is a powerful antioxidant that plays an important role in removing free radicals from the body and boosts the immune system.
Excellent source of Vitamin A
. Bay leaves are an excellent source of Vitamin A with a 100 gram serving providing about 6185 IU (International Units) or 206% of the RDA of this vitamin. Besides being a natural antioxidant, it is vital for healthy visual sight and for the maintenance of mucus membranes and skin health.
. Bay leaves also contain folic acid with a 100 gram serving providing about 180 mg or 45% of the RDA. Folates are required in DNA synthesis and during the peri conception period to prevent neural tube defects in the baby.
. This spice is a good source of the B complex group of vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid and riboflavin. These vitamins help in enzyme synthesis, nervous system function and regulate body metabolism.
. This spice contains volatile active components such as
. Bay leaf is a rich source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron and selenium. Potassium, an important component of cell and body fluids, controls blood pressure and heart rate while manganese and copper are used by the body as co factors of the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is vital for red blood cell formation and is a co factor for cytochrome oxidase enzymes.
. Bay leaves have been used medicinally for centuries. They were eaten fresh or dried and infused into warm water to be taken internally for a variety of ailments. The resulting infusion was a diuretic, increasing urination to remove excess water from the body, and an emetic, to induce vomiting. Bay leaves also have astringent properties, which could help stop secretions due to infection and help reduce excessive sweating brought on by illness. None of these traditional uses have been backed up by modern science, but current technology has allowed for deeper investigation that has revealed startling results.
. Bay leaf extract was found to have antimicrobial activity against some of the most common pathogens, including Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, Aspergillus fumigatus and Candida albicans.
. Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease, the fact that bay leaves not only improved insulin function but simultaneously improved markers for heart disease was an encouraging result. More research is needed, but the results are promising.
. There are several types of plants that are called bay leaves, but the only true bay leaf is Laurus nobilis. Leaves from any other plant cannot be said to have the same health benefits, and some can be toxic. According to the Herb Society of America, the Kalmia latifolia is poisonous, even though it is related to and looks similar to the bay leaf. Leaves of the California laurel, or Umbellularia californica are sometimes sold as California bay leaves, but they can damage the central nervous system and cause respiratory distress when inhaled.
Culinary Uses of Bay Leaves
. Bay leaf is used extensively in the cuisines of India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Its an important spice in the Moghulai style of cooking especially biryani and korma. Kashimiri cuisine uses Tejpatta extensively. It is also used in the cuisines of Nepal and is an integral part of Tsheringma herbal tea in Bhutan. Both fresh and dried bay leaves are used in cooking and impart a distinctive flavor and aroma. In Indian cooking, bay leaf is usually used as a whole dried leaf during the tempering of a dish be it vegetarian or non vegetarian. It is an essential ingredient during preparation of the famous Biryani. The tempered bay leaves are removed once the dish is cooked, just before serving.
. Tej Patta or bay leaf has antibacterial, anti fungal, anti inflammatory, carmiative, diaphoretic, diuretic and astringent properties. Bay leaves are rich in vitamin C and contain minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium.
Health benefits of Bay leaves
. Bay leaf helps in the treatment of diabetes, migraine, gastric ulcers, abdominal pain, colic pain, bacterial and fungal infection and high blood pressure. It maintains the sugar level of blood, pulse rate and blood pressure. It improves the immune system of the body. It works as an antidote to poison. Tej patta is used to treat infections of the respiratory and urinary tracts and bay leaf juice promote menstruation.
Bay Leaf Oil
. Oil is extracted from bay leaves and is used in the treatment of paralysis, muscle pain, arthritis and flu. The leaves are used either fresh, dried (both whole leaves or powdered form. Oil is also extracted (Bay leaf oil) to treat such ailments.
Where to buy Indian Bay Leaves
. You will find them in the spices and herb isle of Indian grocery stores and most Asian grocery stores. Indian bay leaves are often confused with Bay laurel leaves. Bay laurel leaves have a single vein running down the center while Indian bay leaves have three veins.
. Bay leaf is primarily used to flavor foods, and it is used by chefs of ethnic cuisines, from Italian to Thai. It is also frequently used in salt free seasonings. Bay leaf is thought to be useful for gastric ulcers, high blood sugar, migraines, and infections. Bay leaves and berries have been used for their astringent, diaphoretic (promotes sweating), carminative (promotes digestion), digestive, and stomachic (tones and strengthens the stomach) properties.
. These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
. Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
. Individuals with a known allergy to bay leaf (Laurus nobilis), its constituents, and related plants in the Lauraceae family as well as the Compositae/Asteraceae family should not use bay leaf. Contact dermatitis and occupational asthma have been reported.
Side Effects and Warnings
. Bay leaf has very few adverse effects, and is likely safe when consumed in amounts used in foods. However, it may cause contact dermatitis and occupational asthma. Bay leaves may become lodged in the gastrointestinal tract, causing tears or blockages. These impacted leaves may also obstruct breathing.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
. Bay leaf is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to lack of available scientific evidence. Bay leaves offer us a healthy dose of vitamins A, C, magnesium, calcium, manganese, potassium, and iron.
. Bay leaves is supposed to be carminative and promoted digestion. It soothes stomach upsets, relives from flatulence. It tones and strengthens stomach functions.
Common and Botanical Names
. Bay leaves or bay laurel is the common name of the herb. The Botanical name is Cinnamomum tamala or Laurus nobilis and belongs to the family Lauraceae. In Tamil, it is called as Talishappattiri or Ilavankap Pathiri. Common names of Bay Leaves include Indian cinnamon, Tejpatta, Mahpat, Tejpatra, Develee, Tamalapatra, Dalchini ele, Karuvapatta patram, Varanga, Coca, Akupatri, etc
. The leaves have a very good aroma and are mainly used as a spice in Indian cooking since ages. The fruits are also used as a flavoring agent in cuisines. Though the leaves are good, it is not essential to consume cooked leaves. They are tough to digest. The essential ingredients get mixed in the food and offer the benefits for the body.
. Bay leaf as a spice has many minerals, vitamins and other essential compounds that are essential for maintaining good health. Fresh leaves contain a lot of Vitamin C and hence have immunity building, wound healing and body resistant properties.
Periconception Period Health Benefits
. It is necessary that each mother provides sufficient folic acid content to the child. Bay Leaves are rich in Folic Acid and are good to be consumed during the periconception period (approximately 3 months before and after conception period). They make sure that the baby does not have any defects.
. The oil extracted from the leaves have great medicinal properties. They are used to treat muscle pain, rheumatism, sprain, arthritis, etc. There are various other leaves that are similar looking. It is important that we do not get deceived by such false looking leaves.
. The herb has a curative effect in curing various stomach related problems like flatulence, diarrhea, colic pain, etc. In some counties, the fruits of the tree are dried and a decoction is prepared out of it. They are consumed and is good for the digestive health.
. The leaves and fruits of the herb have the property of inducing regular and normal menstruation. Hence they are taken orally. Pregnant women should avoid consuming excess quantity of the leaves.
Common Cold and Sore Throat
. For treating common cold, you can have a steam bath prepared out of Bay Leaves. If you are suffering from a sore throat, you can gargle with powdered leaves / fruits of the herb.
. In few countries, a hot water extract of the leaves is taken and consumed. This acts as a contraceptive. Bay Leaves are used in preparation of many sauces like tomato sauce.
. The leaves act as a sleep inducer. Hence they can be consumed before bedtime. A few drops of the leaf extract can be taken and mixed with water and consumed.
. The oil extracted from the leaves can be applied over the body. This promotes blood circulation in the body. The herb has the property of curing vaginal discharge.
. The leaves have a very good odor and are used as a main ingredient in the perfume industry. The leaves of the herb serve as insect repellent.
Store Bay Leaves
. Bay leaves can be plucked from the plants and dried in the shade. The leaves should not be exposed to direct sunlight. The dried leaves can be stored in closed jars or containers. They should not be exposed to strong light. The leaves can be stored and used up to one year. Beyond that, they lose the essential components.
Health benefits of the bay leaf
. In ancient times bay leaves were used medicinally for a number of things. They were used for ailments of the liver, kidney and stomach and were also thought to alleviate wasp and bee stings. A cloth soaked in boiled bay leaves in water, which is placed on the chest can relieve chest infections, flu, coughs and bronchitis.
. Wounds should not be ignored, even if they look mild, more so when they are from iron objects, rusty or otherwise, or from dirty or unclean objects. Wounds are very much prone to Septic or Tetanus, which can result in severe convulsions, cramps, breathlessness, pain, hydrophobia, and even insanity. The antiseptic property of this oil protects wounds against such infections and inhibits bacterial growth, while helping to avoid those painful situations.
. This oil is also known for its antibiotic properties. That means that it inhibits any sort of biotic growth (growth of microbes, bacteria, or fungi) in the body, effectively safeguarding you against those infections. There is one more advantage of using this oil as an antibiotic. It is completely safe and has no adverse side effects (unless used in very heavy doses), unlike those antibiotic medicines available on the market that heavily impact the liver, heart, and other internal organs.
. Neuralgia is very painful and it leaves almost the entire oral zone, including the throat, ears, tonsils, base of the nose, larynx, pharynx, and the surrounding areas suffering from severe pain. It is caused due to compression of the Glossopharyngeal or the Ninth Cranial Nerve by the surrounding blood vessels, which tends to swell when excited or stimulated as a result of chewing, eating, laughing, shouting, or any other excitement or movement in that region. The essential Oil of Bay has analgesic and astringent properties, each of which helps provide relief from the pain of Neuralgia in its own way.
. Cramps, coughs, aches, diarrhea, nervous afflictions, and convulsions are some of the ailments caused by spasm, which is an excessive contraction in the respiratory tracts, muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and internal organs. Not only does it cause the ailments discussed above, but sometimes it can also become fatal if it is overly excessive.
. An analgesic, like the Essential Oil of Bay, reduces pain, and is particularly effective in pains resulting from coughs and colds, viral infections, influenza, and sprains. Again, this is better than the analgesic pills available on the market, which cause damage to the heart, digestive system, and nervous system.
. Loss of appetite is a very common problem with people who lead a metropolitan way of life. With the excessive pressure of work in the office as well as at home, a never ending search for money, and almost no time to relax or exercise, it is bound to happen! This loss of appetite eventually induces acute deficiencies in those people. Therefore, an appetizer or an aperitif can be a helping hand in these cases. Nothing is better than an herbal aperitif like the Essential Oil of Bay to help them want and have a sumptuous lunch or dinner.
. An astringents main function is to induce contractions in muscles and tissues. This contraction helps in many ways. It strengthens the grip of gums on teeth, pulls up the sagging skin and muscles, strengthens the hold of the scalp on hair roots, thereby preventing loss of hair and finally, it induces contractions in the blood vessels, thus helping to stop hemorrhaging.
. Bay Oil promotes the discharge of bile into the stomach, thereby helping maintain the acid and base balance in it. This bile is used to break down the complex food molecules and to neutralize the excess acids discharged into the stomach, which is very important, since this excess acid can wear down the inner lining of the stomach, causing ulcers.
. This property of Bay Essential Oil is effective in turning on obstructed menses and making them more regular. It also eases the pain and other troubles associated with menstrual periods.
. Since certain components of Bay Oil are capable of fighting infections that cause cough, cold, and fever, this oil helps reduce fevers. Its sudorific property also contributes to this, since perspiration helps bring down body temperature.
. Being lethal for insects and lower animals is yet another beneficial property of this oil, which helps drive away insects. Therefore, it can be used in fumigants, sprays, vaporizers, and in various other ways to keep away insects.
. This oil sedates nervous afflictions and disturbances and helps provide relief from conditions like epilepsy, hysteria, convulsions, anxiety, stress, depression, anger etc.
. The stomach is the root to health and is the root to all health problems as well. Any malfunctioning by the stomach results in an ailment. As long as it is functioning well, then your total health remains fine. This is exactly what Bay Oil does. It keeps the stomach functioning fine and maintains it in very good health, keeping it safe from infections, ulcers, and acidity.
. Bay Essential Oil promotes perspiration and facilitates the removal of toxins, excess salt, water, and fat from the body through sweat. This makes the body lighter and protects it from ailments caused due to the accumulation of toxins, salt, and water in the body. Perspiration also brings down body temperature in the case of fever.
. This property of Essential Oil of Bay is beneficial for the whole body. It improves the metabolic functions such as decomposition of food and the absorption of nutrients by toning up the liver, stomach, and intestines, helping you grow stronger and healthier. It also takes care of proper excretion, regulates the endocrinal secretions of hormones and enzymes, and also tones up the nervous system, thus making you more alert and active. Finally, it boosts the immune system, thereby protecting you from infections.
. The Essential Oil of Bay is equally effective in symptoms like rheumatism, neuralgia, muscular pain, circulation problems, cold, flu, dental infection, diarrhea, skin infections and promoting growth of hair, and general health of the scalp.
A Few Words of Caution
. Due to the presence of high concentration of eugenol, this oil can cause irritations in the skin and mucus membrane. It should be avoided during pregnancy.
. Bay Essential Oil blends with a whole range of essential oils, including the essential oils of Cedar Wood, Coriander, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Ginger, Juniper, Lavender, Lemon, Orange, Rose, Rosemary, Thyme, and Ylang Ylang.
Mind & Body
. It is both uplifting and grounding and can help clear mental confusion, fatigue and provide clarity of thought. This oil can be helpful for general aches and pains and it is sometimes used in steam inhalations as it has an antiseptic effect on the respiratory system.
Growing Bay Leaf Indoors
. Make sure your plant gets plenty of sun while it s spending time indoors. Remember, the quality of the light in a room starts to drop sharply as you move back from the window, so give it plenty of clear, bright light, or provide grow lights for it. Bay also dislikes drafts and hot spots, like those near heating vents or exterior doors.
Propagating Bay Leaf Laurel
. Take stem cuttings (four or five inches), or air layer. The end of summer is the best time to start new plants. The cuttings will have to be carefully nurtured; a conservatory where you can keep them in uniformly humid conditions would be ideal. Transplant the following spring.
Harvesting Bay Leaf
. You can start to harvest bay once the plant is a couple of years old. The leaves should be dried before use, as fresh bay is bitter. The best wait time is around 48 to 72 hours from the time you pick a leaf. I know you get long dried bay leaves at the store, but the freshly dried leaves have better, deeper flavor. After all, you aren t going to all this trouble for nothing.
Uses for Bay Leaf
. Bay leaf is a favorite in cooking. It is commonly used whole in stews, sauces and soups. It can be used in both mild and strongly seasoned dishes and works well with many other herbs and spices. Bay Leaf is one of the key ingredients in Bouquet Garni, and ground bay leaf is the signature herb in Old Bay Seasoning.
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