Bay leaves(Laurus norbilis) refer to an aromatic smell from a few plants. Laurus nobilis is the most commonly used bay leave and is actually an evergreen tree or shrub and is native to the Mediterranean Region. It is important when using bay leaves, since there are many, to stick with the Laurus noblilis. Laurus noblilis is the only accepted bay leave that is used for medicinal purposes and the others could be toxic, according to experts. They state that is can cause damage the central nervous system and could ultimately cause respiratory distress.
Bay leaves contain a good source of folic acid, iron, and vitamin B6, nutrients that play an important role in the production of red blood cells and metabolism. Bay leaves also contain vitamin A, a nutrient necessary for the maintenance of normal vision, a healthy immune system, and cell growth.
The Laurus nobilis is one of my favorite things to use in stews and soups. If you were to eat it, it would be a very bitter taste, so remember it is more for the aromatic smell and is taken out of dishes before served.
Health benefits of bay leaves
Diabetes–The National Center of Biotechnology Information found that after a 30 day period, bay leaf decreased fasting serum glucose in people with type 2 diabetes ranging from 21 to 26% (Table1) after 20 days of eating 1-3grams per day.
They also found that bay leaves decrease serum cholesterol 32 to 40% in people with type 2 diabetes (Table2) after 30 days and more significant in people after 20 days.
In another test, the NCBI found that bay leaves decrease serum LDL cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes (Table3) and positive effects from bay leave increasing HDL cholesterol (Table4). Serum triglycerides were decreased in people with type 2 diabetes (Table5), as well.
Anti-microbial and Antioxidant-Bay leaf essential oil from white wormwood, rose scented geranium on fresh produce showed anti-microbial and antioxidant activity against Salmonella typhimurium and Escherichia coli according to a study done by North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.
Breast Cancer-A study conducted on breast cancer cell models when induced with bay leaf and fruit extracts showed cell death. Making bay leaves a potential natural agent for breast cancer therapy.
Colorectal Cancer-By incorporating Laurus nobilis into food has shown to protect against early events in Colorectal cancer according to a study from the CSIRO Preventative Health National Research Flagship, Food, and Nutritional Sciences, Werribee, Victoria, Australia.
Respiratory Health– A study found that the essential oil extracted from bay leaves and mixed into a salve and then rubbed on your chest can help clear up sinuses by loosening up phlegm.