Did you know…that the common bay leaf has powerful benefits for diabetes, heart health, and more?
Frequently found in kitchen cabinets, and well-known to any fan of Italian cuisine, the common bay leaf uses may soon be granted much-deserved recognition for its powerful health benefits.
In ancient Greece and Rome, glossy bay leaves (Laurus nobilis) were woven into wreathes used to crown kings, poets, and athletes. The bay leaf uses was not only symbolically important, however, it was also used to cure a multitude of illnesses. Now, modern scientific research has confirmed numerous health effects of bay leaves, especially for diabetes and heart disease.
Scientists have found that bay leaves contain:
- Enzymes that break down proteins and promote healthy digestion
- Phytonutrients that help improve heart function
- Compounds believed to aid in cancer prevention
And for those seeking to treat diabetes, the antioxidants provided by bay leaves aid in the absorption of insulin, which can have a powerful overall health effect.
A Quick and Powerful Diabetes Treatment
When it comes to treating diabetes, bay leaf uses work fast. A study conducted by Abdulrahim Aljamal, PhD at the Department of Medical Technology at Zarqa Private University in Jordan, showed significant reductions in plasma glucose levels for all patients who consumed bay leaves in less than 1 month’s time.
Total cholesterol levels dropped as well (especially “bad” cholesterol and dangerous triglycerides). But for the placebo group, plasma glucose and cholesterol levels remained the same.
Lead researcher Dr. Aljamal said this study “suggests that bay leaf uses may be beneficial for [treating]…type 2 diabetes.”
Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition in 2009 also produced impressive results. A dose of 1 to 3 grams of ground bay leaf given daily to subjects with type 2 diabetes created important reductions in blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
And because diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease, it’s extremely promising that bay leaves not only improved insulin function, but also known markers of heart disease.
Dr. Aljamal said the studies demonstrate “that the consumption of bay leaves…decreases risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.”
Powerful Phytonutrients Boost Heart Health
The most exciting news about bay leaves may be that they actually boost heart health. The phytonutrients found in bay leaves (when consumed regularly) improve heart function, as well as prevent:
- Heart attacks
- Other common heart complications
One of the phytonutrients bay leaves contain is so powerful, researchers are now working on ways to use it in the fight against cancer. The compound—called quercetin—has known cancer-fighting properties.
Experts Urge Caution When Selecting Bay Leaves for Medicinal Use
If you’re interested in trying bay leaves for therapeutic purposes, take heed. Several types of plants are called bay leaves, but the only true, medicinally applicable bay leaf is the Laurus nobilis. Experts warn that other “bay leaves” do not have the same health benefits, and some can even be toxic.
The Kalmia latifolia, for example, is related to the bay leaf and looks similar. But according to the Herb Society of America, it’s poisonous! Leaves of the California laurel (Umbellularia californica) are often sold as “California bay leaves,” but experts say these pretenders can damage the central nervous system and cause respiratory distress when inhaled.
Fortunately, true bay leaves are easy to come by and relatively inexpensive. Local health and wellness stores will almost certainly stock this remedy. If you happen to have a green thumb, consider growing your own bay tree in your garden. You can also order certified Laurus nobilis leaves online; just be sure to choose a reputable retailer.