The leaf of the bay laurel, a native shrub of the lands surrounding the northern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean, has a mythic history. Ancient mythology recounts that Apollo pursued the uninterested nymph Daphne. Apollo stalked Daphne until the gods granted her protection by turning her into a bay tree. In the Greek language, the herb is still called "dafni."
Romans considered the bay tree the best protection from thunderstorms, and Nero believed that bay trees purified "vapors" thought to cause disease. As recently as the beginnings of the American era, superstition held that when bay trees died, disaster followed.
The greatest commercial production of bay leaf today is in Turkey. Bay laurels do not withstand heavy frost but require hot, dry summers for production of concentrated essential oils. In the US, the plant is best suited to interior southern California, although smaller specimens can survive as far north as Oregon. The bay leaf from California is oilier and more pungent than Turkish bay leaf.
Mostly 1,8-cineol, with smaller amounts of alpha- and beta-pinene, phellandrene, linalool, geraniol and terpineol.
Dried leaf whole or broken
Whole or crumbled added to cooking, teas.
CulpepperÍs Complete Herbal recommended bay leaf oil for pimples and "all manner of griefs and pain proceeding from wind." A more modern medical application of the herb would be increasing insulin sensitivity, lowering blood sugars, and retarding weight gain, used as one of many similar herbs, including cinnamon, cloves, and turmeric.
For educational purposes only
This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.