Do you know the laurel? Surely you… but you may not know all its properties. Let’s discover them together.
It is a rustic evergreen plant typical of the Mediterranean that easily adapts even to the coldest climates and can be grown in any type of soil.
Its leaves are used in cooking for aromatic essences and can be harvested all year round.
Thanks to its high content of essential oils, bay leaf is an excellent ally of our health and a fragrant ingredient in the kitchen.
Already Greeks and Romans exploited the laurel for the strong beneficial properties that have made it famous over the centuries as a health plant with multiple applications.
Laurel nutritional properties
The consumption of fresh leaves ensures an excellent reserve of vitamin C.
Suffice it to say, in fact, that 100 grams of bay leaves contain 46.5 milligrams of ascorbic acid, equal to 77% of the recommended daily amount.
Vitamin C is a very effective natural antioxidant to counteract cellular aging caused by the action of free briars and viral attacks on the immune system.
Another peculiarity of the leaves is the high content of folic acid or vitamin B29 (180 milligrams per 100 grams), fundamental for the synthesis of the DNA of the fetus during the gestational period.
This vitamin prevents the occurrence of congenital defects in the baby until birth. Quite important is also the supply of vitamin A that protects the mucous membranes, skin, eye health and lungs.
It is scientifically proven, in fact, that the absorption of vitamin A prevents the onset of some forms of cancer of the respiratory system.
Not least, this plant is also rich in vitamin B and mineral salts (potassium, copper, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc, magnesium) very important for regulating blood pressure, heart rate, metabolism and the nervous system.
There are many therapeutic properties that are recognized to this plant: in particular, it has an astringent and antiseptic action.
It is also an effective antioxidant and even considered anticancer.
Given these properties, it is easy to guess that the applications of this plant in herbal medicine and natural medicine are varied.
In particular, given the digestive and diuretic action, the infusion is recommended in case of stomach pains, colic and intestinal pains caused by viruses and bacteria that are optimally contrasted by the action of lauric acid.
The same acid is then a natural repellent against parasites and insects.
Other uses are those related to the treatment of arthritis, muscle pain, sciatica, bronchitis and flu states.
This plant is also very useful in case of phlegm, headaches and menstrual pains and helps to relieve all the disorders deriving from stress and states of fatigue of psycho-somatic origin. A few drops of bay oil and a handful of leaves in the water is ideal for a revitalizing and aromatic bath.
External use as an oleolite
As for external use, fresh berries are used to prepare bay leaf oil. Also known as laurinate oil, it has anti-inflammatory, hemostatic and astringent effect.
It is extremely effective to soothe rheumatism, arthritis, muscle pain or to facilitate the resumption of the use of the joints after plaster casts, against traumas of various kinds, bruises and hematomas.
Properties of bay leaf infusion
The infusion of leaves is a panacea for the stomach, intestines and kidneys: in addition to promoting digestion and stimulating appetite, this infusion helps the expulsion of intestinal gas and tones the digestive system (see medicated wine).
Sprayed on plants, it is a very effective natural pesticide. Rubbed on the painful parts in the form of oily macerate, it helps relieve joint pain.
Laurel infusion recipe
The recipe for an infusion useful for digestion involves the use of:
- 3 bay leaves, chopped
- 120 ml boiling water
- the zest of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon honey
Preparation. Left to macerate for 15 minutes in boiling water and then filtered, this infusion is a natural tonic for the stomach.
Cosmetic properties of bay leaf oil
Laurel berry oil is the basic ingredient of the preparation of Aleppo soap, a product with multiple beneficial properties for the skin and particularly suitable for those suffering from allergies and intolerances.
Instead the oil obtained from the leaves by maceration, which in practice an oleolite, is used above all for hair care.
This laurel oil, in fact, has a rebalancing action on the skin, regulates the production of sebum and prevents inflammation of the scalp, acne and alterations of various origins.
Rubbed on the skin with regularity and constancy, it stimulates micro-circulation and oxygenation, effectively counteracting the weakening and loss of hair.
As a massage oil, it is very useful to relax the muscles after trauma or fatigue and help the normal activity of the joints.
In aromatherapy, bay leaf extract is used to stimulate concentration and ward off insects.
Cultivation of laurel
Like many evergreen plants typical of the Mediterranean areas, it is a very simple and resistant shrub that prefers a temperate climate and fears prolonged frosts.
It adapts to almost all types of soil and can be grown both in pots and in the ground.
In pots, the only precaution is to contain its development because if it is in ideal conditions it tends to grow quickly.
It is a plant with minimal needs: little fertilizer, little water, little care, a well-drained soil are the only precautions that the cultivation of bay leaf requires.
Reproduction occurs by cuttings between August and September.
The most widespread laurel in the Mediterranean is the species laurus nobilis and is absolutely not poisonous.
The only toxic species is the laurel lauroceraso (mainly used as an ornamental plant) which contains hydrocyanic acid.
The most dangerous is the pink bay leaf plant, which is toxic in all its parts. Ingestion of a single leaf can prove deadly.
This plant actually has nothing to do with the family of plants to which the laurel belongs: it stands out above all for the elegant and fragrant flower that can be white, red-pink, orange or red-orange.
So be careful not to confuse it with the flower of the waxy laurel, a plant often confused with bay leaf but absolutely toxic!
Perhaps not everyone knows that…
Laurel in Ancient Greece was associated with Apollo, god of music and the arts. Not surprisingly, the winners of the Pythian Games received a laurel wreath as a prize.
In the Roman world it became a symbol of military glory and was placed on the head of the triumphant general at the moment of acclamation to imperator.
Also from the Latin world, comes the origin of the word “laurea“: the laurel wreath was in fact called laurus or laurea, which also indicated the laurel plant.
No particulate contraindications related to this medicinal plant have been highlighted. Prolonged contact could cause skin irritation or allergies in predisposed individuals.