What is Bay Leaf | Bay Tree | Bay Herb | Where to Find Bay Leaves

Bay tree, also known Sweet bay or Laurel has antiseptic, antifungal and stimulant properties. Bay leaves are the leaves of a bay laurel tree and are used for medicinal purposes. Bay Leaf is requisite for treating indigestion, stomaches, headaches, infections and is considered a tonic for overall good health. Herbal remedies are widely known for their natural treatment and Bay herb is an essential ingredient of a number of ayurvedic medicines.

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Lauraceae Also called Bay tree, Sweet bay, Laurel.

This Mediterranean tree was much revered in Roman times. It was dedicated to Apollo and lecify twigs were made into the laurel crowns worn by emperors. Male and female flowers are carried on separate trees, which can reach 20m tall. In Britain, however, bay trees rarely reach more than 8m in height. The tough, oval leaves are pleasantly aromatic and used as a culinary flavouring. The flowers are yellow and the fruit is a black berry containing one seed.

Parts used

Leaves and berries

The leaves are gathered from young branches in summer and then dried for use as infusions. They also provide an essential oil. The berries are collected when ripe in October and November and produce an oil called bay butter.


Besides tannins and other active constituents, the leaves contain up to 3 per cent essential oil, which is composed of up to 70 per cent cineole. This oil is found in the berries which also contain lauric, oleic, palmitic and linoleic acids.

Medicinal uses

The oil of the bay tree has antiseptic, antifungal and stimulant properties. Externally, the oil is excellent as a rub for easing aches and pains, rheumatism, sprains and bruises. It also helps to soothe mouth ulcers and inflammation. It can be used (under medical supervision) to treat fungal infections.

When taken by mouth, the plant is traditionally used to treat digestive disorders, such as colic and stomach bloating. Studies published in 1997 in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that the seeds helped to prevent the formation of certain types of stomach ulcers in rats.


For internal use

TO TREAT stomach disorders.

INFUSION Put 5-10g of dried leaves into 1 litre of boiling water. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes and then filter. Drink 2-3 cups a day.

For external use

TO TREAT inflammation of the mouth and mouth ulcers ESSENTIAL OIL Dilute, allowing 1 drop to 10ml of carrier oil. Apply three or four times a day..

TO TREAT rheumatism and general aches and pains BAY BUTTER Apply to affected area two or three times a day as instructed on the label.



  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid medicinal doses of bay.
  • The essential oil should not be taken internally.
  • External use may result in an allergic reaction. If it does, seek advice from a doctor or herbalist.


Bay grows best in well-drained soil in sun or light shade.


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