So many herbs that we see as merely flavourful cooking ingredients were sacred to ancient people and have been shown by modern science to possess remarkable healing properties. Bay leaves are a great example of this.
Bay leaves were treasured by the ancient Greeks and Romans who famously used them to create laurel wreaths awarded to athletes and scholars since the leaf represented victory and status. The ancient Egyptians used bay leaves in their embalming rituals, where only the most revered herbs were chosen. Modern researches have uncovered a number of benefits of bay leaves which may explain why ancient people afforded this herb so much respect.
Bay leaves aid digestion, thanks to compounds like eugenol, cineol, and pinene which promote the secretion of digestive enzymes.
Bay leaves contain powerful anti-inflammatory compounds like parthenolide, making them an effective pain reliever. Since inflammation is behind so many chronic medical issues, adding bay leaves to your diet could help you avoid all sorts of problems.
Bay leaves have long been known to support respiratory health, they contain compounds like cineol which act as an expectorant, dispelling mucus which means they are beneficial for chest infections, coughs and colds.
Diabetes is one of the biggest global killers, and bay leaves have attracted some research attention because of their ability to regulate blood sugar. They contain a compound called rutin, which has been shown to improve insulin function.
It really makes sense that this herb was so revered in the past when you look at all the properties that scientific research has revealed. Bay leaves are anti-microbial, antifungal antioxidant. Consuming a diet rich in antioxidants is one of the best ways to protect yourself from all the environmental pollutants we are bombarded with in the modern world.
A cup of bay leaf tea can even promote relaxation and may reduce anxiety thanks to linalool and other compounds.