Bay leaf is a standard cooking ingredient in many savory dishes. Though available fresh, it’s typically easier to find bay leaves dried.
They are used to flavor soups, stews, and sauces — just remove them prior to serving because they have a bitter taste.
Culinary uses aside, researchers have also looked into bay leaf for its potential health benefits.
This herb, Laurus nobilis, comes from the evergreen bay laurel family, native to the Mediterranean. The two most common types are Turkish, with long oval leaves, and Californian, with long narrow leaves.
Throughout history, bay leaves have been used in many different ways for possible health benefits.
But how do these uses measure up in scientific studies? Read on to find out.
Some studies suggest that bay leaf may help inhibit the growth of breast and colorectal cancer cells.
However, those findings are preliminary and some of the research is outdated.
According to a 2008 study, taking capsules that contain 1–3 grams of bay leaf daily can help lower and manage glucose levels and cholesterol levels in people with diabetes.
This is most likely because bay leaves contain polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants.
This promising information indicates that bay leaf could help regulate and even prevent diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases (
However, it should be noted that some evidence suggests it might interfere with blood sugar control.
Always speak with a health professional before using it for that purpose — especially if you have diabetes (
Bay leaf has been studied for its ability to reduce inflammation in the wound area.
In older experiments conducted on rats, scientists found that bay leaf had the ability to assist with wound healing (
A 2014 study investigated whether bay leaf extract could help prevent kidney stones.
The study found that, along with eight other traditional medicinal herbs, bay leaf was able to reduce the amount of urease in your body.
Urease is an enzyme that, when out of balance, can lead several gastric disorders, including kidney stones.
But the scientists conducting the study suggested that more research should be done to understand how these herbs function (
In a 2021 study, researchers exposed rats to bay leaf for 5 minutes in a smoking chamber apparatus once per day for 22 days.
They found that it aided in memory formation and improved cognitive deficits (
While animal studies aren’t always applicable to humans, they can offer insight that may lead to human studies.
Bay leaf is often used in recipes to provide a savory boost of flavor in soups and stews. It has also been used throughout history for its potential health benefits.
Researchers have conducted studies that may uncover ways that it can help improve health. However, ultimately, more research including humans is needed.