Bay Leaf Tree

Stand across the street from any home in Barbados and you are sure to know when someone is boiling the leaf from the Bay Leaf tree. This highly fragrant and aromatic leaf has a strong tendency to pervade any room and environment which it comes into contact with.


Bay leaf (Pimenta racemosa) is a member of the Myrtaceae family and is native to the West Indies. This evergreen can grow very tall and is certainly a wonderful addition to any kitchen in Barbados.


In Barbados, the leaves of this tree are used fresh or dried in soups, teas and to flavour any kind of cooking. Whether you tear it, cut it or simply rub it between your fingers, the scent still gets you going. The leaves of the Bay leaf tree can be harvested at any time.


Healing Benefits of the Bay Leaf

A highly stimulating plant, the Bay Leaf has many purposes. It is not only used in cooking and for teas but also as an insect repellent. In Barbados it is often rested in cupboards in its fresh form to repel insects and add fragrance to any cupboard.


Bay leaf contains minerals and vitamins that are essential for optimum health
This spice has many volatile active components such as α-pinene, β-pinene, myrcene, limonene, linalool, methyl chavicol, neral, α-terpineol, geranyl acetate, eugenol and chavicol. These componds are known to have antiseptic, anti-oxidant, digestive, and thought to have anti-cancer properties
Fresh leaves are very rich source of vitamin-C; provide 46.5 mcg or 77.5% of RDA per 100 g.  Vitamin-C (ascorbic acid) is one of the powerful natural anti-oxidants that help remove harmful free radicals from the body. Ascorbic acid also has immune booster, wound healing and anti-viral effects
The fresh leaves and herb parts are very good in folic acid and contain about 180 mcg or 455 of RDA per 100 g. Folates are important in DNA synthesis and when given during peri-conception period can help prevent neural tube defects in the baby
Bay leaves are an excellent source of vitamin A; contain 6185 IU or 206% of recommended daily levels per 100 g. Vitamin A is a natural antioxidant and is an essential vitamin for vision. It is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural foods rich in vitamin A has been found to help to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers
The spice is indeed a very good source of many vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid and riboflavin. These B-complex groups of vitamins help in enzyme synthesis, nervous system function and regulating body metabolism
Bay leaf is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese and copper are used by the body as co-factors for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase. Iron is essential for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for cytochrome oxidases enzymes

Bay leaf has astringent, diuretic, and appetite stimulant properties
Essential oil from the bay leaves contains mostly cineol (50%); furthermore, eugenol, chavicol, acetyl eugenol, methyl eugenol, α- and β-pinene, phellandrene, linalool, geraniol and terpineol are also found
Infusions of herb parts are reputed to soothe the stomach and relieve flatulence and colic pain

The components in the essential oil can also been used in many traditional medicines in the treatment of arthritis, muscle pain, bronchitis and flu symptoms

Bay leaf has many properties which make it useful for treating migraine headaches, bacterial and fungal infections, gastric ulcers and high blood sugar. Bay leaf has also been shown to help the body process insulin more efficiently, which leads to lower blood sugar levels

Bay leaves and berries have been used for their astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emetic and stomachic properties

Bay leaf has been used as an herbal remedy for headaches. It contains compounds called parthenolides, which have proven useful in the treatment of migraines

It has also been used to reduce the effects of stomach ulcers. Bay Leaf contains eugenol, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties


The leaves from the Bay leaf tree are also used in men's cologne, hair products and soaps. These leaves are responsible for a very large percentage of the aromas that manage to escape from the homes of most Barbadians.


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