Cold and flu season. It comes around every year and every year we wait and see if we'll get struck down, like we always do. As Baby proclaimed to Johnny in Dirty Dancing, "It doesn't have to be this way." We can start amping up our immune powers now by incorporating some simple and delicious practices into everyday life. And that is where bay leaf tea comes into the mix to make your tummy and your immune system sing.
We know bay leaves, right? Of course we do. We tend to use them sparingly, adding a leaf here and there to soup stocks, chilis and everyone's favourite homemade spaghetti sauce. But come on now. We know that the herbs and spices we add to our meals offer more than just flavour. These true flavour enhancers are also super powers in the functional and culinary nutrition realm. They pack a punch. And bay leaves are part of that party.
Health Benefits & Uses of Bay Leaves
- Nutrient Packed: Bay leaves offer us a healthy dose of vitamins A, C, magnesium, calcium, manganese, potassium, and iron.
- Bay leaves soothe body aches. Make a decoction of 4-5 bay leaves in 1 litre of water and add to bathwater to relieve sore muscles and rejuvenate the body.
- Ease joint pain from arthritis. Rubbing bay leaf oil on inflamed joints reduces pain.
- Immune supportive: Have antibacterial and anti fungal properties. Use a decoction as a compress to heal skin infection.
- Blood sugar balance: May improve insulin sensitivity and are helpful in regulating blood sugar. This makes them a great herb of choice for those dealing with diabetes or simply wanting a little more help getting blood sugar under control.
- Aid in digestion and are said to boost appetite, help with gastric diseases and reduce flatulence.
- Reduce congestion: Consuming bay leaves in a tea can help ease the symptoms of coughs and colds as they help to clear congestion.
- Scalp health: A decoction, as outlined above, can also be used as a post-shampoo hair rinse to keep the scalp healthy and the 'druff outta sight.
The best way to get to get the benefits from herbs and spices is to brew or decoct a tea.
Yield: 4 servings
- 4-5 dried bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick (or 1 tsp ground cinnamon)
- 1 liter of water
- Add leaves and cinnamon to the water and simmer for about 20 minutes. For a weaker brew, chop up the fresh or dry leaves, pour hot water over and allow them to steep.