Laurel tea, made from the sweet, fragrant shrub or small tree called sweet bay laurel, is making headlines in the herbal and restorative tea industry. There are many different types of laurel trees and bushes. It is important that you identify the herbal or edible variety before you put it to use in your kitchen. Sweet bay laurel is grown as a garden herb for its spicy, fragrant leaves. The leaves maybe used fresh or sun dried as an aromatic herb. The fruit maybe pressed for fragrant oil. Many spirits may also use bay leaves or leaf extract to infuse gins, vodkas, and other spirits with warm, spicy flavors.

Nutritional Information and Properties

Greeks and Romans have utilized the medicinal properties of the sweet bay laurel since ancient times. Despite the myth and folklore surrounding the origins and use of this plant, modern science proves that bay laurel nutritional facts may include many of the essential chemical compounds, vitamins, and minerals necessary for good health. The spice is replete with different types of chemical compounds that act as antioxidants and protect from free radical damage. The fresh leaves also contain ample amounts of vitamin A (6185 IU per 100 gram serving) and vitamin C (46.5 mcg per 100 gram serving). In addition to this, bay leaves contain vitamin B complex such as niacin, riboflavin, pyridoxine, and panthothenic acid. It is also an excellent source of folic acid, providing almost 180 mcg of folates per 100 gram serving. Essential minerals found in bay leaves include calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper, iron, selenium and zinc.  

Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses

Some of the common laurel herb benefits and uses are as follows.

  • Antioxidants in sweet bay laurel consist of chemical compounds that can help fight the damage caused by free radicals, thereby reducing the risk of cancer. Bay leaves also have anti-aging properties.
  • Chemical compounds found in bay leaves also aid the digestion process. Indian and Mediterranean cuisines encourage the use of bay leaves as an antiseptic and digestive agent. Dried bay laurel maybe infused in tea to provide digestive relief or as appetite suppressant for weight loss.
  • Vitamin A is essential for healthy skin, hair, and vision. It functions as a powerful antioxidant that may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Sweet bay leaves contain almost 206 percent of recommended daily value of vitamin A per 100 grams.
  • Vitamin B complex from sweet bay leaves helps regulate the function of nerves, organs, and hormone production. In addition, consuming dried or fresh bay leaves as part of the daily diet may also help individuals with diabetes to regulate their metabolism and lower blood sugar levels.
  • Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is a powerful antioxidant. It may be used to reduce inflammation, fight viral disease, and boost the immune system against disease causing viruses and bacteria.
  • Folic acid or folates present in bay leaves are a necessary part of DNA development in fetuses. Introduced to the prenatal diet, sweet bay laurel leaves can encourage DNA synthesis and even reduce the risk of nerve disorders in children.
  • Essential minerals in bay leaves, including calcium, iron, copper, potassium, manganese, magnesium, selenium, and zinc, contribute to different bodily functions such as processing enzymes, improving blood cell production, regulating organ and muscle function, and so on.
  • Other therapeutic uses of bay leaves include using essential oils extracted from leaves, berries or the bark of the tree to heal wounds, burns or inflammation and to relieve muscle pain or sprains. Natural or organic cures use sweet bay laurel healing properties in pills, creams, gels, herbal shampoos, and moisturizers.
  • Sipping laurel tea can help to clear the sinuses and fight cold and flu symptoms.

Other Uses

  • Industry uses of bay leaf extracts include utilizing the essential oils as insect repellant in the form of creams and gels.
  • Bay leaves also act as a diuretic and astringent.
  • In recent times, sweet bay leaves have become an important ingredient in health supplements due to their medicinal and healing properties.

Precautions/Side Effects/Warnings

Some of the precautions to keep in mind include the following:

  • Make use of this strong herb in moderation when cooking.
  • If you are using fresh bay leaves, ensure that you wash them thoroughly.
  • Take care when feeding foods with bay leaves to little children. This tough leaf may cause choking if consumed whole.
  • Traditional medicine may have suspected strong chemical compounds in bay leaves as the cause of abortion. Although no medical evidence proves this, it is best for pregnant and breastfeeding women to consume bay leaves under the supervision of doctors.
Some side effects of food allergy may be reported amongst individuals who consume bay leaves. This includes symptoms such as skin eczema on the hands, feet or face, dermatitis, and breathing difficulties. Additionally, excess consumption of bay leaves is discouraged since bay leaves do contain narcotic properties. Symptoms may include heightened senses, jitters, and insomnia. Drinking too much laurel tea may at time lead to nausea or diarrhea. In case you experience these symptoms after consuming bay leaves, consult your doctor immediately.