The Indian bay leaf is scientifically known as Cinnamomum tamala or tej patta in Hindi. Originated in the southern slopes of the Himalayas, they are also found growing in Nepal, Bhutan, Burma and the North-Eastern hills of India. It is an endemic spice in most Indian cuisines from savoury to sweet dishes due to its distinctive fragrance and flavour.
However, it is also well-known for the medicinal properties it possesses. Presence of various nutrients and minerals such as Vitamin A and C along with folic acid (a type of vitamin B) makes it a highly beneficial herb.
If the leaves are eaten whole, they are pungent and have a sharp bitter taste. Its fragrance is more noticeable than its taste which when dried, it gives out a herbal and slightly floral fragrance which is due to the presence of essential oils like Myrcene and Eugenol in it.
Health Benefits of Bay Leaves:
Bay leaves are a rich source of vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Regular inclusion of bay leaves in your diet improves overall health.
- Improves digestion - Bay leaves are believed to have excellent effects on the gastrointestinal system and also acts as a diuretic as it helps in stimulating urination. This effect further helps in decreasing toxicity by flushing out the toxic substances. Furthermore, the compounds that are present in bay leaves are highly effective in dealing with upset stomachs, soothing irritable bowel syndrome. Due to some complex proteins that are present in our diet, it makes it difficult to digest but the enzymes that are present in bay leaves facilitates efficient digestion and the intake of different nutrients.
- Helps in respiratory conditions- Bay leaves have powerful antibacterial properties in it and the essential oils in it help in alleviating respiratory conditions. It helps to loosen up the phlegm and eliminates harmful bacteria that may be trapped in the respiratory tract.
- Has anti-cancer properties- Bay leaves have a unique combination of antioxidants as well as other organic compounds such as phytonutrients, linalool, catechins, and parthenolide that helps in protecting the body from the harmful effects of cancer-causing free radicals or substances. These free radicals cause mutation of the healthy cells into cancer cells, but bay leaves may help in preventing this activity due to the abundant number of antioxidants and organic compounds in it. Cineole, one of the main compounds in bay leaves that help in suppressing the growth of cancer cells.
- Helpful for the heart- The organic compounds that are found in bay leaf which include caffeic acid and rutin helps in enhancing the health of the heart. These two compounds aid in strengthening the capillary walls that are present in the heart further helps in eliminating LDL or bad cholesterol from the cardiovascular system.
- Stress-buster- Stress is one very common condition in today’s world. You can add bay leaves to your daily diet in order to manage stress better. Chemical compound linalool which is present in it helps in lowering the stress hormones in the body which leads to calmness and combat symptoms of depression.
- Protects the body from inflammation- Bay leaves have an anti-inflammatory activity which is one of its most essential benefits. The presence of some unique Phyto-nutrients called parthenolide in it helps in reducing inflammation significantly which further reduces the chances of developing inflammation conditions like arthritis.
- Manages diabetes- Bay leaves are highly useful in the management of diabetes as they help in reducing the blood glucose level, cholesterol, and triglycerides. They directly improve the function of the insulin receptor and regulates blood sugar levels. This is because the antioxidants in bay leaf enable the body to help produce more insulin efficiently thus making it a good choice for diabetic patients who has insulin resistance.
- Antifungal property- Studies have suggested that bay leaves have antifungal properties that help in protecting the skin from any kind of unwanted microbes that causes infection or irritation. Regular consumption of bay leaf powder may help in creating a protective layer that may eliminate all sorts of microbial organisms from entering the membrane.
- Soothes sore throat and reduces cough- Bay leaves may clear up the respiratory system. It helps to unclog stuffy nasal passage and gets rid of the harmful bacteria.
- Boosts athletic performance- Bay leaves have caffeic acid in them and not only helps fight rare diseases, but it can also help in increasing exercise tolerance. It has a mild stimulant effect that reduces the levels of lactate which is commonly used in pre-workout supplements.
Here are 6 useful natural health remedies using Bay Leaves.
1. Tej Patta Chai:
We Indians love ‘tej patta chai’. It is also called ‘Masala chai’ because of its strong, spicy taste.
Ingredients you need:
- 4-5 cups water
- 1-2 teaspoon of black tea leaves
- 1-2 dried bay leaves
- 2 slices of ginger
- 2 cups of milk
How to prepare tej patta chai:
Follow the steps below:
- Heat water in a container and bring it to boil.
- Add the black tea leaves and continue boiling for 4-5 mins.
- Add ginger slices and bay leaves to the mixture.
- Add milk and keep boiling for 3-4 mins.
- Your tej patta chai is now ready.
Take it off your stove or heater. Strain it using a sieve. Pour into a cup and add sugar for sweetness.
Enjoy every sip of this refreshing bay leaf tea.
2. Bay Leaf for aromatherapy:
The pungent aroma of Bay leaves has a considerable calming effect on the mind and helps in relaxing the body. It also eases respiratory ailments as it aids in releasing respiratory airways. The herbal fragrance of bay leaf purifies the ambience and can be used as an incense. It also acts as a natural insect repellent and keeps roaches away in your homes.
How to do it: Simply take 3-4 pieces of these dried bay leaves and burn them in a bowl. Let the natural aroma infuse and spread around the room.
3. Bay leaf as a tonic for healthy hair:
If you want to get rid of dry, damaged, and brittle hair, you can try this formula by using Bay leaf with cloves as a natural hair tonic. Bay leaf contains antioxidants which strengthen the hair, treats dryness and dandruff. While cloves have anti-septic properties and keep your hair healthy and aids in hair growth.
Requirements:24 pieces of cloves, 5-6 pieces of bay leaves, vessel, bowl, and water.
- Take a vessel. Fill it with water and bring it to a boil.
- Once heated add 24 pieces of cloves and cover the vessel with a lid. Let it boil for more than 10 minutes until the water turns pale yellow.
- Next, add 5-6 pieces of bay leaves and stir it for 5 minutes. Let it boil for 10 more minutes.
- Turn off the flame and let it cool for a while. Once cooled, strain out the water into a bowl. You can apply this directly on your scalp and massage it. Leave it overnight and rinse your hair thoroughly.
4. Bay leaf infused healthy oil:
Bay leaf infused oil has a sweet fragrance which is not overpowering. It tastes slightly peppery with medium bitterness. You can use it for cooking and as a massage oil.
Here is a DIY recipe for Bay leaf infused oil:
Requirements: 30 pieces of bay leaves, 1 tablespoon of perilla oil, sterilized polycarbonate containers, vessel, and water
- Take 15 pieces of Bay leaves and it put in a container. Add a tablespoon of cold-pressed perilla oil and seal the container tightly.
- Now take a vessel and fill it with water. Put the sealed container in the vessel. Heat the water and bring it to a boil. Let it simmer for 2 hours.
- After 2 hours, allow it to cool slightly and strain the contents and discard the used Bay leaves. Refill the container with 15 pieces of fresh Bay leaves again. Add the strained oil and seal it tightly. Repeat the above process again.
- After 2 more hours, cool the contents and strain, using a sieve if you must. Then pour the oil into a new clean container. Store it in a cool dark place and use when necessary.
5. Ground Bay leaf for healthy skin and teeth:
Bay leaf is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It also acts as a natural astringent for the skin. You can take dried Bay leaves and grind them into a fine powdered.
Add 1 tablespoon of water to 1 and a half tablespoon of Bay leaf powder and form a paste.
You can then apply it on your skin to heal cuts, bruises, and insect bites.
You can also sprinkle a pinch of Bay leaf powder on your toothpaste before brushing. It helps keep your teeth healthy and clean.
6. Bay leaf as a natural remedy for a nosebleed:
As treatment and relief for a nosebleed, you can use sun-dried Bay leaf. Take 3 pieces of dried Bay leaves and crush them roughly.
Put them in a vessel and add 2 cups of water to it. Bring the water to boil and simmer in for another 10 minutes.
Turn off the heat and let it cool. Strain the contents and drink this concoction for relief.