Bay leaves are long, oval, and taper to a slender point, averaging 7-10 centimeters in length and 3-5 centimeters in width. When fresh, these short-stemmed dark green leaves are smooth and shiny on the top surface and have lighter green coloring on the bottom. When dried, Bay leaves are leathery, matte, and turn into a deep olive green. Fresh Bay leaves are more potent than dried leaves, but in either form, they offer a woodsy, herbal and slightly floral aroma reminiscent of rosemary, pine, and citrus. On the palate, Bay leaves are mild with a bitter and sharp taste with notes of mace, cardamom, oregano, and thyme.
Here are some of the best health benefits of bay leaves.
1. Anti-inflammatory Properties
One of the most important benefits of bay leaves is its ability to reduce inflammation throughout the body. Bay leaves contain a unique phytonutrient, called parthenolide, which can quickly reduce inflammation and irritation when topically applied to the affected areas, such as sore joints or areas affected by arthritis. This effect can also be achieved through the normal consumption of bay leaf spice.
2. May Treat 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.
3. Aids in Digestion
Bay leaves may have an impact on the gastrointestinal system by promoting urination, which helps release toxins in the body. Within bay leaves are certain organic compounds containing enzymes that may help eliminate an upset tummy and soothe irritable bowel syndrome, reducing bloating and gas. In some cases, it has been known to decrease symptoms of celiac disease as well. Overall, the bay leaf may provide much relief by enhancing the digestion process and, therefore, increasing nutrient absorption.
4. May Help Fight Cancer
Evaluation of the use of bay leaf extracts showed that both the leaves and fruits were potent against breast cancer cell models. The study notes bay leaf as a potential natural agent for breast cancer therapy by comparing cells that were induced with the extracts and those that were not. Cell death occurred in those that were induced, making bay leaf a possible natural cancer treatment option.
5. Ease Anxiety and Stress
One of the least commonly known benefits of bay leaves is their naturally soothing quality. Linalool is often associated with thyme and basil, but it is also present in bay leaves and can help to lower the level of stress hormones in the body, especially when used in aromatherapy. Excess stress hormones can be dangerous for long-term health, so bay leaves can help you calm down and remain relaxed even in your most high-anxiety moments.