The bay leaf is not eaten, but is cooked with many food dishes such as stews, curries etc. to be eaten. During the cooking process, many of its benefits are released into the food being cooked with it. These benefits are many, including:
- The bay leaf is known to provide resistance against different types of cancer. It contains caffeic acid, quercetin, eugenol and catechins, all of which posses chemo-protective properties.
- One of the phytonutrients contained in bay leaves, known as parthenolide, has shown to specifically restrain the proliferation of cervical cancer cells. This is done by inducing apoptosis, inhibiting tumor-associated angiogenesis and reducing the activity of the tumor promoter, NF-êB
- Bay leaves are a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, manganese, calcium, potassium and magnesium. As such, regular inclusion of bay leaves in meals promotes general heath and well-being.
- The leaves are known to provide protection against cardiovascular disease. They contain some very valuable compounds, such as phytonutrients, caffeic acid, rutin, and salicylates, which promote cardiovascular health. Bay leaves make up an important component of Mediterranean seasonings for this specific reason only.
- Traditionally, bay leaves have been used to treat arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. The parthenolide present in bay leaves is an anti-inflammatory agent, according to ancient knowledge about the plant.
- In the middle ages, herbal practitioners used bay leaves to help in regular menstruation, treat snakebite, treat insect stings and cold, relieve cuts and bruises, cure urinary problems and ease rheumatism.
- Bay leaves are known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Their antioxidant properties can help in conditions like diabetes, by enabling the body to process insulin efficiently.
- The leaves are used to treat stomach upsets and reduce the smptons of digestive disorders. They contain enzymes that help to breakdown proteins and promote digestion of food.
- Some compounds present in bay leaves makes them an efficient herbal remedy for headaches. They have also proved to be useful in the treatment of migraines.