What are the health
benefits of bay leaf?
The bay tree is found mainly in Asia Minor and Mediterranean. Bay, or laurel, was famed in
ancient Greece and Rome. Emperors, heroes and poets wore wreaths of laurel leaves.

Potential Health Benefits of Bay Leaf

It has been believed bay leaf offers health benefits to our body. Indian researchers from
Annamalai University estimated the total polyphenolic content of Indian bay leaf and it was 6.7
mg gallic acid equivalent/ 100 g. [1] Bay leaf extract displayed scavenging activity against
superoxide and hydroxyl radicals in a concentration-dependent manner. Spanish researchers
determined the active aroma of bay leaf to be eugenol, elemicin, spathulenol, and
beta-eudesmol. [2] Researchers from Kyoto Pharmaceutical University, Japan, found the
methanolic extract from the leaves of Laurus nobilis (bay leaf, laurel) could inhibit nitric oxide
production in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-activated mouse peritoneal macrophages. Seven
sesquiterpene lactones (costunolide, dehydrocostus lactone, eremanthine, zaluzanin C,
magnolialide, santamarine and spirafolide) potently inhibited LPS-induced NO. [3]

In addition to its high content of antioxidants, it may have potential health benefits on people
suffered from diabetes. Researchers from Agricultural Research Service found that bay leaf
has insulin-like biological activities. [4]

Side Effects of Bay Leaf

Dried bay leaf has been reported to cause upper gastrointestinal tract bleeding in Slovenia. [5]
It may also cause asthma. [6]


[1] Devi SL, Kannappan S, Anuradha CV. Evaluation of in vitro antioxidant activity of Indian
bay leaf, Cinnamomum tamala (Buch. -Ham.) T. Nees & Eberm using rat brain synaptosomes
as model system. Indian J Exp Biol. 2007 Sep;45(9):778-84.
Bay Leaf [2] Díaz-Maroto MC, Pérez-Coello MS, Cabezudo MD, Facultad de Ciencias Químicas
(UCLM), Campus Universitario, s/n, 13071 Ciudad Real, Spain. Effect of drying method on the
volatiles in bay leaf (Laurus nobilis L.). J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Jul 31;50(16):4520-4. [3]
Matsuda H, Kagerura T, Toguchida I, Ueda H, Morikawa T, Yoshikawa M. Inhibitory effects of
sesquiterpenes from bay leaf on nitric oxide production in lipopolysaccharide-activated
macrophages: structure requirement and role of heat shock protein induction. Life Sci. 2000
Apr 21;66(22):2151-7. [4] Broadhurst CL, Polansky MM, Anderson RA. Insulin-like biological
activity of culinary and medicinal plant aqueous extracts in vitro. J Agric Food Chem. 2000
Mar;48(3):849-52. [5] Skok P. Maribor Teaching Hospital, Slovenia, Dried bay leaf: an unusual
cause of upper gastrointestinal tract hemorrhage. Endoscopy. 1998 Mar;30(3):S40-1. [6]
Lemière C, Cartier A, Lehrer SB, Malo JL. Sacré-Coeur Hospital, Montreal, Canada
Occupational asthma caused by aromatic herbs. Allergy. 1996 Sep;51(9):647-9.
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