Laurel, originally from Asia Minor, can now be found in all regions of the Mediterranean with a temperate climate. The origins of this plant, belonging to the Lauraceae family, was used in ancient times, for example Ovid speaks of it in his Metamorphoses. Plant sacred to the god Apollo, symbol of wisdom, immortality and glory, in ancient Greece it decorated the foreheads of the winners of the Delphic Games. In the form of a garland, it was the highest honour for poets who, rewarded by a sovereign, became poet laureates.
The dark green leaves, oval and glossy on the upper part, can be harvested throughout the year, but, if this happens in spring, they are richer in beneficial properties. Used fresh, they are characterized by a strong and slightly bitter aroma. The drying, which takes place at low temperatures, away from the sun, improves their fragrance, making their aroma more intense and resinous.
Properties of the bay leaf
The plant is rich in essential oils both in the leaves (from 1 to 3%) and in the berries (from 1 to 10%), the laurel is recognized for numerous therapeutic capacities. The younger the leaves, the higher their content of active ingredients and their essential oil is rich in geraniol, terpineol and eucalyptol. Thanks to these elements, laurel has antipyretic, expectorant, digestive, relaxing and anti-inflammatory properties useful for treating arthritis and rheumatism. For this reason, the infusion of bay leaves in moderate doses is an excellent general stimulant of the organism. A few drops of laurel oil and a handful of leaves in the water allow you to obtain a perfumed and revitalizing bath.