Bay Laurel (Bay leaves to you an me) was sacred to the Greek god Apollo which is why this plant is historically used to make victory crowns in southern Europe. It was also sacred to another Greek god, Aesculapius, the god of medicine, due to its ability to increase and maintain health as well as a happy mood. Here are some ideas on how to use this versatile plant:
- Add one or two bay leaves to soups and beans. Not only do they improve the flavor, but they can prevent gas, bloating, and indigestion often caused by beans and other high fiber foods.
- Bay leaves are typically used in “bouquet” garnishes in stocks, casseroles, and roasts, and they are proven to stimulate the digestion of fats and protein. If you see a recipe that calls for a “bouquet” it is typically a variation of this base recipe:
2 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs marjoram
1 bunch parsley stalks
2 bay leaves
Tie these herbs together with some string and place in or on top of the cooking food.
- Another good use for Bay is in combination with a few other herbs to loosen mucus and phlegm. Boil a small pot of water with eucalyptus, bay leaves and sage, and inhale the steam.
- Some experts say that sprinkling Bay leaves on your shelves will keep away insects and roaches.
- Or you can make Oil of Bay by gently heating the leaves in a little olive oil. Don’t let it boil! External application of Oil of Bay is known to relieve rheumatic pains when rubbed into the joints, and also swelling from sprains and injuries. However it’s suggested that you don’t apply it to broken skin.
- Pour a cup of boiling water over three large Bay leaves and let steep at least 10 minutes, then strain or pick out the leaves. You may want to sweeten with sugar or honey as it has a mild bitter taste, but the bitter is where the medicinal value is. This tea has been used for generations to calm nerves, settle the stomach, and as a sleep aid. It’s also very valuable for those who are suffering from nausea and can’t keep food down.
No wonder the ancient Greeks honored their gods with this wonderful herb! Now let’s honor ourselves and our families by using it more often.