About Bay Leaves
Bay leaves are the leaves collected from the shrub. The leaves have been used as spice since ancient times. They are native to India and are widely found. They have spread to other parts of Asia and the Mediterranean region over time. They have a very good aroma and are similar in smell to cinnamon spice. Bay laurel tree has been regarded as Sun God in Astrology.
Bay Leaves are called as Laurels and have associated to wisdom since ancient times. It has been a tradition to garland a King of wisdom with Bay Leaves in the ancient times.
They have a very good medicinal and culinary uses, which are described below.
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
Primary Medicinal Uses of Bay Leaves
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.
The leaves are used to flavor good and soups.
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.
Bay Leaves are also rich in Vitamain A. This makes sure that you have a very good visual and skin health.
The spice is rich Vitamin B and makes sure that you get rid of nerve problems and regulates body metabolism.
Other useful minerals contained in the spice include Potassium, Calcium, Manganese, Iron, Zinc, etc. These minerals make sure that you have a controlled heart rate, regulated blood pressure, optimum level of red blood cells in the body, etc.
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
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 are very effective in treating diabetes. The leaves can be powdered and consumed for 30 days. This results in significant drop in sugar levels in the body. They also have a good effect on the heart and regulate heart functioning.
The leaves have the property of inducing pregnancy. They are mixed with Anise and inserted into vagina for inducing pregnancy.
The leaves and fruits of the herb have the property of inducing regular and normal menstruation. Hence they are taken orally.
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.
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 leaves have a very good odor and are used as a main ingredient in the perfume industry.
Bay Leaves are used in preparation of many sauces like tomato sauce.
The herb has the property of curing vaginal discharge.
The leaves of the herb serve as insect repellent.
How to 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.
- Pregnant women should avoid consuming excess quantity of the leaves.
- There are various other leaves that are similar looking. It is important that we do not get deceived by such false looking leaves.