The bay leaf is well known and disseminated in Brazil for two characteristics: its medicinal properties and its unique aroma that makes it an ingredient in several culinary recipes. In ancient Greece, the laurel leaves had another purpose, they were used to make crowns that would be given to athletes who were champions of Olympic events and to the kings of Rome in the time of Caesar. For these reasons, it has become a symbol of victory and conquest, to the point of saying that someone is “laureate” when they do something excellent or reach a goal.
Properties and benefits of bay leaves
The main nutrients in bay leaf are potassium, fiber, carbohydrate, vitamins B6 and C, magnesium and folic acid, among many others. With anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, diuretic, digestive, liver, expectorant and stimulant properties, bay leaf is an excellent choice for those suffering from digestive problems such as gastritis, ulcers, gas and liver inflammation. It also serves to relieve menstrual cramps, as it regulates the flow and menstrual cycle, headaches, rheumatism, ear and skin infections. Its expectorant properties make it powerful cold and flu remedies as it clears the airways. It is also a relaxing plant, reducing stress and anxiety.
When the body receives bay leaves regularly, the kidneys also work better, eliminating excess fluid accumulated in the body. In this way, the person loses the feeling that they are “bloated”, and consequently lose weight more easily. Muscle and joint pain – especially those caused by rheumatism and arthritis – are progressively relieved, until they completely subside.
How to prepare tea
To prepare tea, just put some bay leaves in a kettle with boiling water. Simmer for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. Sweeten to taste and drink a cup amount 3 or 4 times a day.
If you want to use the leaves also in cooking, it is a great option for heavy foods, such as feijoada. Just add a few leaves while the food is being cooked. In this way, the food considered to be heavy will fall lighter in the stomach, as the bay leaf aids digestion.