Laurel is a spontaneous Mediterranean plant useful for promoting digestion, relieving flu symptoms and rheumatic pains
- Features and uses
- Properties and benefits
- How to use laurel for health
- Contraindications, side effects and toxicity
Features and uses
Laurel (Laurus nobilis) is a small tree of the Lauraceae family, spontaneous from the Mediterranean region and often cultivated as an aromatic and ornamental plant. In fact, laurel has a great aesthetic value and, being a rustic and easy to grow plant, it is often used to create aromatic hedges in gardens, as an alternative to cherry laurel, a similar but toxic species.
The laurel plant has stems that can reach variable heights and on which deep green leaves develop, arranged alternately and with an elliptical-lanceolate shape. The bay leaves are leathery and slightly wavy along the edges, have a bitter taste and, if broken or rubbed, they give off a pleasant aroma given by the presence of essential oil. The laurel flowers are whitish and grouped in small axillary umbels, while the fruits are drupes that take on a very dark, almost black color when ripe.
A symbol of wisdom and glory, laurel is used to make the famous laurel wreaths, but not only. Laurel is in fact a medicinal species: the drug is represented precisely by the leaves that contain mainly essential oil, the composition of which varies according to the growth area of the plant.
In addition to the leaves, berries rich in flavonoids and vitamin C, with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, are also used.
The essential oil of laurel, leaves and berries are traditionally used to treat digestive disorders, as well as to relieve flu symptoms and rheumatic pains.
Properties and benefits
The following properties are recognized with laurel, and in particular with the essential oil obtained from the leaves of the plant:
- expectorants and mucolytics;
The essence and bay leaves are traditionally used to relieve the symptoms of flu and respiratory system disorders such as cough, sore throat, but also bronchitis and asthma. The properties of laurel are also exploited for the treatment of oral infections and inflammations including gingivitis, toothache and abscesses and for wounds and skin abrasions. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic action, laurel is also used in case of rheumatic and joint pain and to relieve the symptoms of neck pain and sciatica.
Bay leaf essential oil is also used for cosmetic purposes for its antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Beauty products containing laurel extracts are especially useful in case of excess sebum and skin impurities.
In aromatherapy, the essence of laurel is instead useful for improving concentration, increasing self-confidence and fostering creativity, inspiration and the ability to express oneself.
Finally, bay berries have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and bring benefits in case of inflammatory states and to counteract the damage of free radicals.
How to use laurel for health
The dried leaves, essential oil and berries are used for laurel, products that are easily available in herbal medicine.
Prepare the infusion with the dried and chopped bay leaves, leaving a tablespoon of leaves in boiling water for about ten minutes. The bay leaf infusion is useful in case of cough, cold, fever and other flu symptoms but also to improve digestion, promote appetite and relieve intestinal disorders caused by excessive fermentation. A cup of bay leaf tea sipped during meals can therefore reduce flatulence, bloating, a sense of heaviness, gas accumulation, bloating and abdominal tension.
Laurel berries, with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, are widely used in liquor and represent a valid natural remedy to strengthen blood vessels, relieve inflammatory pains, support the body in case of seasonal ailments and counteract the action. harmful to free radicals. The berries can be used dried whole or powdered: with the whole, slightly bruised berries, a decoction is prepared, while with the powder it can be added to herbal teas or other drinks.
A massage oil is also prepared with laurel berries, leaving a handful of berries macerated for about ten days in 250 milliliters of olive, sunflower, sweet almond or other vegetable oil. After ten days, the oil is filtered with a colander or sterile gauze and transferred to a clean and dry dark glass bottle. The oil obtained is kept at room temperature for about three months, away from sources of light and heat and is used for localized applications in case of rheumatic pain, bruises, respiratory problems and hemorrhoids.
The essential oil of laurel can instead be diffused into the environment through a burner or a diffuser to clear the airways, purify the air and improve concentration or used for relaxing and deodorant baths and footbaths, dispersing three to five drops in the bubble bath to add to the water of the tub or foot bath.
Contraindications, side effects and toxicity
Laurel is considered a safe remedy but its use is contraindicated in case of hypersensitivity to one or more components. Furthermore, bay leaves should not be consumed. Bay leaf oil can cause skin irritation.