Pleasantly aromatic bay leaf is a well-recognised flavouring agent in a spectrum of culinary delights since ancient times. Bay leaf or bay laurel is described as the tree of the Sun God, the celestial sign of Leo. Bay leaves render a sweet aroma and taste when added to the recipes. Wilted, and dried ones are indeed very strong and can be stored for months, while dried fruit berries can also be used as a flavouring agent in the cuisine. Thanks to its distinct flavour and fragrance, bay leaves have been used extensively to offer an extra zest to soups, stews, and sauces, however, remember to remove them before serving, as they have a bitter taste. Bay leaves bestowed with a treasure trove of nutrients and active compounds delivers a host of healing health benefitting properties.
Bay Leaf Plant
This aromatic herb is scientifically known as Laurus Nobilis, which comes from the evergreen bay Lauraceae family, native to Asia Minor and the Mediterranean region. Bay leaf is found in the tropical and subtropical Himalayas, the Nilgiri hills, the Khasi hills and Sikkim. The two most common types of bay leaves are Turkish, with long oval leaves and Californian, with long narrow leaves that have a strong flavour.
Indian bay leaf (Cinnamomum tamala, Lauraceae) is also known as cinnamon leaves, cassia leaves or tej patta in Hindi varies from bay laurel leaves which are shorter and light to medium green in colour with one large vein down the length of the leaf. Indian bay leaves exhibit a distinct fragrance and taste quite similar to cinnamon, but slightly mild.
Bay leaves go by several vernacular names such as Tejpatta in Hindi, Patra, Gandhajat, Pakranjan, Tamalpatra, Patraka, Tejapatra in Sanskrit, Tamalpatra, Taji in Gujarati, Dalchiniele, Tamalapatra in Kannada, Lavangapatri in Tamil, Akupatri in Telugu, Tejapatra in Bengali, and Tamalpatra, Dalchinitiki in Marathi.
Tej Patta has been valued as a potent herb and holds a special place in traditional Ayurvedic medicine owing to its anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antibacterial traits. This aromatic herb is light, pungent, bitter, sweet, and warm by nature. The goodness of bay leaves is valuable in stimulating digestion, trigger brain cells, increases urine output and regulates blood sugar levels.
They are warming in nature, and it is known to balance Kapha and Vata doshas while it elevates Pitta dosha. It aids in the elimination of Ama and supports in week digestive fire. Myrcene, a key component present in bay leaf essential oils is largely used in the perfume industry and also has a wide application in traditional medicines. Bay leaves teas or concoctions are used to cure respiratory and indigestion problems.
Chemical Composition of Bay Leaf
Bay leaf contains several volatile essential oils including eucalyptol oil, terpinyl acetate, terpenes, sesquiterpenes, methyl eugenol, linallol, terpineol and lauric acids.
Bay leaf is used in the form of powder, paste, decoction, whole leaf for both external and internal purposes in Ayurvedic treatment.
Apply bay leaf paste on the chest and leave it overnight. Inhaling the vapour get rids of bacteria that cause respiratory infections.
Spread bay leaf paste to ease headache, migraine
Bay leaf is a natural digestive stimulant that helps in removing toxins from the intestine and eases symptoms of Celiac’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
Potent anti-inflammatory effects aids in reducing inflammation in the system.
The presence of linalool is used as an aromatherapy oil to reduce the stress hormone level in the body.
This fragrant spice contains a rich array of important plant-derived chemical compounds, minerals, and vitamins that are essential for optimum health and wellbeing. Fresh leaves are a storehouse of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that removes detrimental toxins from the body boosts immunity, and speeds up wound healing. While it is also an impressive source of B complex vitamins that help in enzyme synthesis, nervous system function and regulating metabolism. Aside from these, bay leaf is imbued with minerals like copper, potassium, manganese, iron, zinc, and selenium, which control blood pressure, heart rate and several enzyme reactions.
The following is the nutritional value of bay leaf, per 100 g, according to the data provided by the USDA Nutrient Database (United States Department of Agriculture):
Energy 313 Kcal
Carbohydrates 74.97 g
Protein 7.61 g
Total Fat 8.36 g
Dietary Fiber 26.3 g
Folates 180 mcg
Niacin 2.005 mg
Pyridoxine 1.740 mg
Riboflavin 0.421 mg
Vitamin A 6185 IU
Vitamin C 46.5 mg
Sodium 23 mg
Potassium 529 mg
Calcium 834 mg
Copper 0.416 mg
Iron 43 mg
Magnesium 120 mg
Manganese 8.167 mg
Phosphorus 113 mg
Selenium 2.8 mcg
Zinc 3.70 mg
Bay Leaf Health Benefits
Bay leaves have a positive impact on the gastrointestinal system by averting gastric damage and reduces toxicity in the system. The richness of volatile compounds in bay leaves treats upset stomach and soothe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Regular addition of this spice in limited amounts not only add flavour and taste to the dishes but also offer respite from abdominal pain, gastrointestinal infections, flatulence, bloating, constipation, and diarrhoea. Besides these, it also functions as a natural diuretic and increases urine output.
Remedies Respiratory Problems
Potent antibacterial activities of bay leaf are effective in fighting bacterial infection and cure several respiratory problems. Bay leaves extract is rich in essential oil and poultice made of these leaves are applied topically on the chest and allowed to remain overnight. Inhaling the vapour helps to loosen up the phlegm, get rids of harmful bacteria trapped in the lungs and eases chest congestion, asthma symptoms, breathing problems and uplifts lung power.
Augments Heart Health
Bestowed with an impressive profile of organic compounds such as caffeic acid and rutin, bay leaves support optimises heart function and cardiac muscle activity. Bay leaves strengthen capillary walls and lower LDL cholesterol and naturally increases levels of good HDL cholesterol. This spice is very advantageous in averting the incidence of heart attacks, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.
Good For Diabetics
Several pieces of evidence have disclosed that taking 1-3 grams of bay leaves extracts daily for 30 days can remarkably lower and manage blood glucose levels, cholesterol, and triglycerides in people with diabetes. Laden with powerful polyphenols, bay leaf can effectively improve insulin function, control blood sugar spikes, and prevent diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Strong anti-inflammatory traits of bay leaves are well-known to combat inflammation by inhibiting the production of nitric oxide, which is one of the factors behind inflammation. Thanks to the goodness of distinct volatile compound sesquiterpene lactones and parthenolide that significantly reduce inflammation, thereby lowering the risk of developing arthritis.
Stress is one of the common problems that negatively influence the well-being of a person. To manage stress better, simply add bay leaves to your regular meal plan. The essence of linalool can lower the level of stress hormones in the system, especially when used in aromatherapy. Bay leaves can calm you down and combat symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Bay leaf is credited to have antimicrobial properties that help to heal wounds and speeds up the recovery process. Bay leaves extract act as a natural rescue for curing minor wounds and cuts.
As per the Journal of Nutrition Research, bay leaves have exhibited promising results as an anticancer agent. The plethora of antioxidants and organic compounds in bay leaves such as phytonutrients, catechins, linalool, and parthenolide help to prevent the body from the effects of cancer-causing free radicals and lowers the risk of developing breast and colorectal cancer.
Bay Leaves For Hair Health
Laden with hair-friendly nutrients applying bay leaves extract help to strengthen the hair follicles and stimulate the growth of longer and voluminous mane. It supports the elimination of harmful free radicals that can weaken and brittle hair, that result in continuous hair loss. The essential vitamins in bay leaves can renew hair cells, promote hair growth and avert hair fall.
Steep bay leaves in water and then gently massage them on the scalp after shampoo to eliminate dandruff as well as head lice.
Bay Leaf Recipe
Tej patta Chai For Weight Loss
Tej patta chai has an amazing ability to support weight loss. The presence of natural enzymes in the bay leaf helps in breaking down protein and speed up metabolism and digestion. It is also known to reduce cholesterol levels and regularise bowel movements. Furthermore, having tej patta chai keeps you satiated, curbs unwanted hunger pangs and reduce overall calorie intake.
Tej patta Masala Chai
A piping cup of hot masala chai is one of the most refreshing beverages to kickstart the day and boost metabolism. Tej patta chai is a strong, spicy, and relishing concoction that treats the common cold, cough, and sore throat.
2 cups water
1 cup milk
½ tsp. of tea leaves
1 dried bay leaves
½ inch ginger
Honey to taste
Boil water in a pan, add the black tea leaves and continue boiling for 4-5 mins.
Add ginger slices and bay leaves to the mixture, add milk allow it steep for 5 minutes.
Switch off the stove, strain it using a sieve.
Add honey for sweetness and serve.
Relish every sip of this refreshing bay leaf tea.
Bay leaves packed with a wealth of essential nutrients including vitamin A, C, iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium is valuable in easing migraines. Active enzymes promote the digestion process and avert indigestion and flatulence. While ginger aids in soothing sore throat, cough, chest congestion and cold.
Bay Leaf Kadha
2-3 bay leaves
1 cinnamon bark
2 slices of ginger
1/4 teaspoon of turmeric
6 black pepper balls
Honey to taste
Boil 4 cups of water in a pan on a low flame, add all the spices and steep well for 15 minutes until the essence of the spices completely soak in.
Switch off the stove, filter the decoction using a sieve and add honey for a hint of sweetness, before serving.
Bay leaf imbued with apple amounts of polyphenol, antioxidants, which lower inflammation and shield the body from infectious pathogens. Turmeric laden with potent antioxidants bolsters the immune system and fight against viruses. Ginger effectively remedies seasonal illnesses, coughs, and colds. Cinnamon works wonders in easing chest congestion, thereby improving lung function.
Bay Leaf Side Effects
Bay leaf is safe for most healthy adults when added in moderate amounts in the food. However, taking the complete leaf by mouth is likely unsafe, as it cannot be digested and can become clogged in the throat or the lining of the intestines.
Bay leaf may also interfere with blood glucose levels, hence diabetic patients should monitor blood glucose levels when using the bay leaf as an alternative medicine.
Bay leaf is an aromatic spice commonly used to offer a savoury boost of rich flavour and taste in soups, curries, stews, and teas. It has been valued as a traditional remedy since ancient times for its incredible therapeutic benefits. Laden with vitamin A, C, antioxidants, iron, calcium, zinc, selenium, magnesium besides an impressive profile of volatile oils. Bay leaves support in bringing down blood sugar spikes, bad cholesterol levels, preventing cancer, inflammation and managing weight. Add 2-3 dried bay leaves as a part of your daily diet in your dishes and feel healthy at its best.