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The Mysterious Bay Leaf: A Nutrition Powerhouse!

When you think ‘Bay Leaf’, I’ll bet you immediately think, “In the soup,” and, “discard before serving.” But there’s much more to this ancient herb than meets the pot! It’s a nutritional powerhouse and can work a host of healthful wonders…

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Unlock the power!

The first post I found was titled, “Unlock the Power of the Bay Leaf!”

MSN food writer Carolina Castro polled a number of professional nutritionists and dieticians to assemble a list of the Bay Leaf’s benefits. But her post barely touched the surface…

Whence it comes…

The Bay Leaf has been a cooking staple in the The Mediterranean, the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia for more than a thousand years. It was also used widely as a medicinal herb. And it’s a culinary staple in the Caribbean and Mexico.

On the ceremonial front, the classical Greeks crowned their Olympic champions with wreaths of Bay Laurel leaves. And the Caesars of Rome crowned themselves with similar wreaths – wrought in solid gold.

No mistaking that a wide swath of ancient cultures held the Bay Leaf in highest esteem!

What it offers…

According to, one tablespoon / 1.8 g of [crushed] Bay Leaf provides:

  • Calories: 6
  • Fat: 0.2g
  • Sodium: 0.4g
  • Carbohydrates: 1.4g
  • Fiber: 0.5g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 0.1g
  • Iron: 0.8mg
  • Magnesium: 2.2mg
  • Vitamin A: 5.6mcg

Documented medicinal uses lists a number of ways we can leverage the Bay Leaf to enhance our health and well being…

Immune system health: Bay Leaf is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin B6, and vitamin C – all known to support a healthy immune system.

Digestive aid: Bay Leaf tea can help ease bouts of upset stomach. The tea is also very aromatic, which can help relieve sinus pressure or stuffy nose.

Type 2 diabetes risk factors: A pair of small studies suggest that taking ground Bay Leaf capsules or drinking tea brewed from Turkish Bay Leaf may lower your blood sugar levels.

From Carolina Castro’s sources…

Important nutrients for bone health: Bay Leaf is rich in iron, calcium, magnesium and vitamin K.

Fights fungal infections: Thee ‘s some evidence tht Bay Leaf can help fight fun gal infections.

Fights systemic inflammation: A phytonutrient in Bay Leaf called parthenolide may help fight inflammation.

According to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH): “Systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) is an exaggerated defense response of the body to a noxious stressor (infection, trauma, surgery, acute inflammation, ischemia, […] or malignancy, to name a few).

Diseases and conditions resulting from SIRS include rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and multiple sclerosis.


Recommended ‘dosage’: Three to 5 leaves per day, to be used as spice in cooking preparations.

Individuals taking blood thinners should be careful with Bay Leaf intake due its high amount of vitamin K.

Excessive consumption may cause drowsiness. On the other hand, that’s a good thing, if you’re having trouble sleeping…

Grow your own Bay bush!

You can grow your own Bay bush! In fact, come spring, you can get the plant for a few dollars at any garden centre, ready to plant out in the garden, or in a large pot. Grown outside in colder climates, it must be protected over the winter. But it makes a great house plant, if grown in a pot or planter. Looks and smells good – and good for you, too!

My take

I’m all for the benefits of Bay Leaf has to offer. But I think 3 to 5 leaves a day may be a bit much for the average person to stomach. Unless you happen to enjoy the flavour of Bay Leaf Tea!

On the whole, though, I think it might be time for researchers to take a renewed serious interest in Bay Leaf as it pertains to SIRS and bone health!

~ Maggie J.