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Also called Sweet Bay, this evergreen is native to the Mediterranean. The Sweet Bay is a small tree, growing in Britain.
Bay laurel has been cultivated in Britain since the 16th century, and is still grown commercially in many parts of the world today. The plant’s aromatic leaves and essential oil are valued for culinary and medicinal use.
Crowns and wreaths for heroes and poets were made from the Bay Laurel. It’s also used as as decoration during the Christmas season.
Household tip: Some say that by sprinkling the crushed leaves in your cupboards you can keep out cockroaches and other insects.
Bay Laurel as an Herb for Medicinal Uses
In addition to its culinary popularity, bay laurel also has numerous medicinal benefits.
Bay Laurel leaves, berries and oil all have excitant and narcotic properties.
The leaves and fruit are very rarely used internally. They were formerly used to treat hysteria, amenorrhoea, flatulent colic, etc.
The essential oil of Bay Laurel is used in massage oils to treat arthritis and rheumatism. It is also used in ointments and soaps.
In aromatherapy, Bay Laurel is used to treat earaches and high blood pressure. Oil of Bays is used externally for sprains, bruises, etc., and sometimes dropped into the ears to relieve pain.
Bay leaf tea is sometimes used as an external treatment for dandruff or itchy scalp. A poultice made with the boiled leaves is a common natural cold remedy when applied directly to the chest.
Other medicinal uses of bay laurel include treating digestive problems, stimulating appetite and regulating menstruation. The fruit was once used to promote abortion, as it causes the uterus to contract, but this is extremely dangerous and no longer practiced today.
Culinary Uses of Bay Laurel
The leaves are frequently used in cooking for flavoring. They are often packed with stick licorice or dried figs. They are also used fresh, and may be gathered all the year round.
Bay leaves are commonly used to season and add flavor to soups, stews, pot roasts, and other slow cooking kitchen recipes. Remove the leaves before serving because the leaves are tough and may have sharp edges.
The large, older Bay leaves are preferred for cooking because they will contain more of the plants essential oil and impart more flavor to your favorite recipes.
Folklore & Magical
Magical Properties: Protection, purification, healing, psychic powers. Bay is a masculine plant associated with the Sun and the element of Fire.
Magical Uses: Bay Laurel is used in potions and incenses for clairvoyance and wisdom. It is also a protection and purification herb. You can use a sprig of bay laurel as a censer.
No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages. The drug possesses a medium potential for sensitization.
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