Laurel, with a Latin name Laurus nobilis, belongs to the Lauraceae family. It is characterized either as a large shrub or as an evergreen tree. It is found mainly in areas of the Mediterranean. It blooms from April to May, but because it retains its foliage, its leaves can be harvested at any time of the year and dried for later use.
In ancient Greece, Laurel got its name from a nymph. According to mythology, Apollo fell in love with Daphne «Δάφνη», a priestess of the goddess of the Earth, Gaia. When she tried to seduce her, Daphne asked Gaia’s help, who took her to the Greek island of Crete. In place of Daphne, Gaia placed a plant called «Δάφνη» which is the Greek translation of Laurel. In this plant, Apollo left wreaths in honor of his unfulfilled desire.
At that time in ancient Greece, Laurel was a symbol of the separation of the upper classes. At the Pythian Games, it was given as a prize, as these games were in honor of the god Apollo. Pythia, who was a priestess of Apollo, chewed the famous bay leaves from a sacred tree inside the temple, which aroused her enthusiasm so that she could recite her prophecies. Similarly, in Roman culture, it was preserved as a symbol of victory. It has also been linked to immortality, purification, prosperity, and health.
Health Benefits and Uses
Nowadays, you can find it in many local cuisines, mainly in the preparation of broths or soups, giving a more spicy and aromatic taste to the food. But you must not forget the medical properties. Hippocrates used it as an analgesic after childbirth and its oil to treat infertility. In addition, the ancient Greeks believed that the extract of the leaves has tonic properties in the stomach and bladder. However, in addition to its beneficial properties for health, it also stimulates the hair and is even used as a natural way to darken hair.
Laurel decoction has relaxing properties and is used as a means of combating insomnia. It is also used in cases of indigestion, oral infections, and sore throats, as the leaves of the plant, have astringent, anti-microbial, and diuretic properties. The essential oil fights pain from rheumatism and arthritis.
- Whole Leaves
Origin: Greece/ Albania
Caution! Herbs should not be consumed uncontrollably. Consult your doctor before consumption. They are not substitutes for drugs and can cause side effects and allergies.