Since the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans, bay leaves have been considered a valuable, medicinal herb. Nowadays, we mainly use them to spice up our home cooking, but centuries ago these leaves served a much different purpose.
As we typically burn sticks or cones of incense now, bay leaves were once (and in some places, still are) burned in homes and places of worship. Some reasons were religious, some even fantastical, but others were based on the scientific fact that bay leaves contain a hodgepodge of chemicals beneficial to the body.
Here are just a few health benefits you might experience if you try burning bay leaves in your home.
1. Relieves Anxiety
The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists conducted a recent study that found linalool to greatly reduce anxiety and likewise enhance social interactions between those under the influence of it. The study deduced that subjects felt the leaves effects in under 10 minutes of inhaling fumes.
2. Reduce Inflammation
Some of the medicinal properties of bay leaves include reducing inflammation in the body, especially within your joints. This healing effect comes from the chemical eugenol, which is found in bay leaves and acts as an all-natural anti-inflammatory cure.
3. Boost Immune System
Try burning some leaves or adding some as seasoning to dinner the next time you can’t shake a cold!
4. Cope with Diabetes
For this benefit, experts suggest consuming 1-3 grams of bay leaves a day to see the best results, as proven in a study published in the US National Library of Medicine. Consuming this amount of bay leaves for 30 left the subjects insulin levels decidedly more regular than before the study, leading researchers to believe that the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can help relieve some symptoms of Type II diabetes.
5. Increase Alertness
6. Open Respiratory System
Bay leaves are a natural remedy that can help treat clogged, backed up respiratory passages and lungs. It acts naturally to help break up and remove the nasty mucus and phlegm that’s causing all the problems. Instead of burning the leaves, soak fresh ones in clean water or pick up a small vial of bay leaf oil and use it in a humidifier to create a steamy vapor which you then breathe in. You can also simply boil the treated water on the stove top or rub the oil on your chest area to alleviate respiratory problems, allergies, and asthma.
7. Increases Mindfulness
This train of thought goes all the way to the ancient Greek story of Apollo and Daphne. Mythology says that Daphne transformed into a bay laurel tree to escape the eager advances of the god Apollo, and the Greeks henceforth associated the leaves of the bay tree with spiritual properties. The leaves have been burned in temples for centuries to help increase focus on prayer and meditation.