Bay leaves are commonly used in cooking for the taste it gives to food and for one of its properties of facilitating digestion, and detoxifying the body, which helps healing, premature aging and acts as a protector against infections . Used for aromatherapy and as a medicinal herb for respiratory problems and skin conditions
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What is laurel?
Lauro or laurel, is a shrub of the Lauraceae family. It has a very recognized and particular aroma that is why it is so widely used in food recipes and has medicinal properties such as expectorant, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, etc.
Origin of the laurel
Originally from the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor, it spread throughout Europe and America. It grows in both cold and temperate climates, it requires care to be able to develop, using well-drained soil, it can grow to between 3 to 9 cm. It occurs between March and April and does not support extreme changes in temperatures, that is, neither very cold nor very hot since they would not survive long.
Greek mythology tells the legend that Apollo was in love with Daphne (Laurel) who was the daughter of the River God Ladon and the Goddess Gea (Earth). They were persecuted because their love could not be reciprocated and surprised by the persecution, she begged Mother Earth to help her, she agreed and instead grew a plant. Apollo, surprised by the transformation, left the tree with the same name as the maiden.
As a consequence, evil spirits were regarded as hateful and where there was a laurel, evil spirits would be far away. Hence it comes that it was customary to entertain poets, philosophers, athletes, soldiers with a crown made with laurel leaves, an honor so valuable that whoever was awarded the crown could spend time without working or making an effort. the saying “rest on your laurels.”
There is also a history in Rome where the laurel was called palátion because it was said that Latino, who was the brother of Telegon, children of Circe and father-in-law of Aeneas, founded the acropolis in the presence of his mother-in-law and they found the laurel.
This was used for divination since when burning its leaves it released an active principle resulting in hallucinations.
Between 5 to 10 cm in height the laurel can be presented, considered a perennial tree. It has a straight trunk with a gray bark and a crown composed of dense branches and dark green leaves.
The laurel is considered aromatic since its leaves are simple and with a characteristic smell and with a shiny appearance, they measure between 3-9 cm, therefore they are attached to the trunk thanks to a very small petiole.
Its flowers are of a brownish yellow color, they are intertwined at the base by a short peduncle, present between March and April. Its fruits are ovoid in shape and have a size of 1 to 1.5cm, they acquire a black color when they mature and appear mainly in autumn.
There is a very rare variety of laurel, known as cherry-laurel ( Prunus laurocerasus ), it is very toxic that they are not suitable to flavor our meals, being a deadly poison.
Loose and humid soils are the best to grow laurel , they grow in shadows but there must always be care for the cold, but in strong winters it dries up, the root surviving and sprouts again in spring.
Scientific name of laurel
Its scientific name is Laurus nobilis and it is part of the Laurácea family. It is known as laurel, in Spain it is known under the name of the Apollo tree or aurel.
Chemical composition of laurel
Bay berries are made up of 25% fatty oil and 3% oil composed of cineole, geraniol and linalool, its leaves are also composed of cineole, a bitter principle and tannin that are between 45 to 50% in them. .
Oil has 81 different compounds. The main components cineole (58.59%), acetate (8.82%), and terpinen (4.25%). ] We can also find compounds such as alpha and betapinenos (3.39-3.25%), sabinene (3.32%), linalool (0.19%) and myrcenol (0.10%). The aromatic compounds found in laurel are cumin aldehyde (0.24 %), dimethylstyrene (0.08%), eugenol (0.16%), methyl eugenol (0.05%) and carvacrol (0.05%), these produce that unique and unmatched aroma of the plant
The essential oil is mainly composed of (E) -beta-ocimene (20.9%), alpha-bulnesene (3.5%), alpha-pinene (8.0%), beta-longipinene (7.1%), linalool acetate (4.5%), 1,8-cineole (8.8%), cadinene (4.7%), beta-pinene (4.2%), alpha-terpinyl acetate (3.8%)
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Active ingredient of laurel
Laurel is used in medicine for having antibacterial, antifungal, diuretic, stomachic, expectorant properties.
The essential oil is pediculicidal and rubefacient, commonly used as an emmenagogue and anti-hemorrhoidal, these properties contain chemical components such as geranyl acetate, phelandrene, eucalyptus, limonene, among others.
It has been used for its abilities in the therapeutic treatment of such sprains, tears, as well as a remedy against the plague.
The laurel is commonly cultivated, although it appears mostly in humid or cool places, in icy or very hot areas, this plant does not survive.
It can be planted in full sun or in semi-shade but keeping care. It should never be in places with a lot of wind, or strong gales.
It is a plant that survives drought although from time to time it must be watered, especially in the autumn season.
It should not be watered too frequently as excess of this can rot the leaves and give them a yellowish and unhealthy color.
It grows in soils with drainage preferably
They are collected whenever it is needed, for that we wash our hands well, dry them very well and pack them in a glass jar
The laurel contains some fruits that are totally toxic and should not be consumed.
Uses and benefits of laurel
For the skin
It is rich in vitamins and minerals , that is why it is used both in the kitchen as a home remedy. Some of its health benefits are as follows.
Laurel helps prevent wrinkles and used as a relaxant. Boil 5 bay leaves with 2 cups of water for about 2 minutes, inhaling the infusion helps you open the pores, and prevent or heal wrinkles as well as maintain a silky skin.
Bay leaf has excellent healing properties.
It was used mostly as an antibiotic for snake bites, stings, and burns. But it has been discovered properties to lose appetite, and detoxifies
The bark and leaves of these plants contain antioxidant, pain reliever to heal the redness, itching, and rashes induced by sunburn.
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For the hair
The laurel contains nutritional properties to protect the hair, we show you some of them
Bay leaf can also be used to achieve silky smooth hair . All you need to do is boil some bay leaf in a pot full of water. Boil the water for 20 min. You let it cool and you use it in the toners, shampoo or creams you have for your hair when you go to wash it.
Helps to get rid of lice Lice start with one and they can multiply into a thousand rupees within 10 days. Due to its bitter and strong taste, it creates a suffocating condition for lice to stay on your hair.
Against sebum, as it has astringent properties, it has also been used to control the presence of fat on the head.
Studies indicate that bay leaves have antibacterial properties, helps respiratory ailments such as infections and acts as an expectorant , as well as other types of bacterial infections in the body, such as oral for example.
The laurel contains anticancer compounds such as caffeic acid, 1,8-cineole, quercetin, catechins are such compounds limit the metabolism of cancer cells . Laurel is known to improve or cure leukemia and breast cancer
The laurel contains different chemical compounds with antioxidant action preventing damage to the body. It helps improve health, prevents flu, colds, improves the immune system , improves hormonal production, controls blood sugar levels.
Analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects
The essential oil from bay leaves shows a significant analgesic effect equal to those of morphine and piroxicam, it is very common to use it to treat sciatica pain, sprained ankles, sprains, recommending rubbing the affected area with the oil
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The laurel extract is excellent digestive and has diuretic properties, eliminating gases from the digestive tract. For digestion it is recommended in 1 liter of water with 20 grams of bay leaf and a handful of ripe bay leaves, it is prepared by placing the leaves and ripe fruits in the water and the preparation is boiled for 10 minutes.
In one study, laurel essential oil showed anticonvulsant effects on seizures that were induced by electroshock and pentylenetetrazole. This could possibly be obtained from eugenol, although this study was conducted in animals and not humans may contain the same effect.
How is bay oil extracted?
Through steam distillation, the oil is extracted from the tree’s leaf, resulting in a liquid with a strong, spicy and yellowish odor.
Pregnancy and laurel
Laurel infusions are recommended for pregnant women because it has folic acid or vitamin B9 in its composition , which makes it possible to combat some remedies that prevent vitamin B9
Laurel and allergies
People with allergies are totally forbidden to use laurel since there have been reports of dermatitis causing irritation of both the skin and the digestive mucosa or occupational asthma.
Bay leaf infusions, what are they for?
It is proven that infusions help people with rhinitis or sinusitis by helping to decongest the airways. It is also recommended when drinking alcohol because it is proven that drinking a laurel infusion when you have a hangover helps us vomit, making us feel better and throwing away those impurities
Cosmetic uses of laurel
It contains such a recognizable smell that it is used in shampoos or creams, for its healing properties for burns, irritations and to control hair loss and dandruff.
It is also used to combat lice and nits , as well as oil on the scalp.
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Medicinal uses of laurel
Bay leaves have been found to be effective in treating diabetes , causing a reduction in blood glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. These leaves can be pulverized and consumed for 30 days, helping to lower sugar levels. This allows the body to process insulin more efficiently.
2. Good for digestion:
Bay leaves contain enzymes that allow the breakdown of proteins, making it an excellent spice for non-vegetarian diets, promotes digestion, acts against heartburn and flatulence.
In case of indigestion take 5 grams of bay leaves, adding ginger and boil this in 200 thousand of water until ¼ of water remains. Consume this twice a day for relief and add some honey to sweeten it
3. Cardiovascular benefits:
The powerful phytonutrients found in bay leaf act against cardiovascular diseases.
They contain valuable compounds such as caffeic acid and phytonutrients, which protect the heart from attacks or stops.
In case of heart disease 3 grams of bay leaves boiled in 300ml of water are beneficial to control and prevent them.
4. Cold and infection treatment:
Bay leaf is effective in fighting colds, flu, and infections . Bring the water to a boil and add 2 to 3 bay leaves. Let it boil for 10 minutes. With a cloth, put it on your chest to relieve flu, cold and cough, help reduce fever.
5. Pain reliefs:
The oil extracted from bay leaf has anti-inflammatory properties that can relieve various pains in the body. With the oil we massage the affected area and in a few minutes we will begin to feel relief.
It also stimulates circulation creating a pleasant sensation.
If there are cases of discomfort in the joints, you can use the ground bay leaves combined with castor leaves creating a poultice, it is woven into the affected area which helps to reduce swelling and pain.
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6. Beneficial during Periconception Period:
Containing folic acid, bay leaves are beneficial during periconception (3 months before and after pregnancy).
Provides sufficient content of folic acid to the child; prevent diseases or birth defects in the child.
Bay leaves are effective for induction of pregnancy
7. Medicine for menstrual problems:
Through the oral route, bay leaves act as a regulator of menstruation and prevent vaginal bleeding. It is made using 1 small spoon for each cup of boiled water used. Consume between 2 to 3 cups a day for a week
8. Insect repellent:
By containing lauric acid, bay leaves act as an insect repellent.
Grinding the leaves into a paste helps the bites and irritations produced by them.
Laurel in gastronomy
These leaves are used as a spice, which looks good when combined with different flavors. The use in the kitchen has become frequent because it has innumerable properties that help our body
In Mediterranean diets it is very common to see laurel. This may be due to its ability to relieve heavy digestions, through the activation of peristaltic movements of the esophagus and intestine.
Laurel is good for diets as it helps accelerate metabolism, the loss of anxiety, and the elimination of fluid
You can use either the whole leaf or as well crushed in the food.
It gives a delicious taste and smell , it is used in dishes such as stews for being very heavy for digestion and in general stews rich in fat, as well as in foods rich in fat, to avoid excess cholesterol in the blood.
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Contraindications and risks of laurel
It must be used under the consent of a doctor in cases such as cancer, gastritis, among other diseases.
It should not be used by people suffering from kidney or liver disease
If you have very irritated or damaged skin, it is not advisable to apply bay oil since it would increase irritation, you should wait to reduce the damage caused before applying
The laurel can cause damage in dermatitis, this is a disease commonly called hat dermatitis, which draws on the forehead
In large doses, laurel can cause vomiting and nausea, as well as produce gastritis, heartburn and other stomach diseases.
If you consider yourself an allergic person, it is not recommended to use this plant since it can cause asthma problems as well as skin rashes, inflammation and dizziness , if you get any of these symptoms you should see a doctor immediately
Using bay oil in the sun can cause staining.
It is recommended not to keep for more than 1 year. When drying in full sun the leaves turn brown.
Nutritional information of laurel
The various benefits of bay leaf can be attributed to its rich nutritional value as it contains minerals such as copper, potassium, calcium, magnesium, among others.
Bay leaves are a rich source of vitamin C . Vitamin C is an important in removing waste from the body and boosts the immune system.
Bay leaves are an excellent source of vitamin A. 206% of the RDA of this vitamin is vital for healthy vision and skin
It is a good source of B complexes such as niacin, pyridoxine, and rivoflabin . These vitamins help in the synthesis of enzymes, and the nervous system, they also control metabolism
As it has large amounts of calcium, it is a rich food for the bones and for that reason it is recommended to pregnant women since it stimulates the body to a greater extent than those who do not consume it.
The percentage of zinc that this seasoning contains makes it easier for our body to assimilate and store insulin. It also contributes to maturity in development and helps in the growth process.
This spice contains volatile active components such as α-pinene, β-pinene, myrcene, limonene, linalool, among others. These compounds possess antiseptic, antioxidant and even anticancer properties. The oil contains between 50 to 60% cineole.
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Kathie Sand always saw the world of beauty as the terrain on which to build her professional career, a goal that was clear to her when she was only 15 years old. Her great concern to expand knowledge led her to settle in Paris where she studied hand in hand with the best beauty professionals and with the most advanced techniques for skin care.