Many foodies swear by bay leaves as a key ingredient in soups and other savory dishes. But the potential uses of these leaves go beyond the kitchen.
People around the world have used bay leaf in traditional and complementary medicine practices for thousands of years. Most of these uses are crushed leaves, leaf pulp, or bay leaf essential oil.
The basil leaves are then burned, creating a smoke that is believed to have a variety of health benefits.
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A bay leaf burning with anxiety
Relief from anxiety is believed to be the main benefit of burning basil leaves.
This is probably because lavender leaf smoke contains a compound called linalool, which is found in many other plants, including mint and lavender. Lavender is another herb commonly used to treat anxiety.
According to the theory behind aromatherapy, inhaling certain scents causes the olfactory (smell) receptors in your nose to communicate with the parts of your brain that help regulate your emotions.
Studies have shown that linalool, in the form of lavender essential oil and extract, has sedative properties.
A 2010 Trusted Source study examined the effects of inhaled linalool vapor on mice, showing that it can help calm and reduce anxiety.
After inhalation of linalool, the mice became less aggressive and less inclined to interact with other mice. They were also more likely to leave the dark area and explore the bright area, a test often used to measure the animals’ anxiety levels.
Another 2016 study from Trusted Source gave rats oral bay leaf extract daily for 1 week.
Rats appeared to be less anxious, as determined by several behavioral tests. The extract also helps reduce depression and stress.
There are a few things to consider
None of the studies mentioned above used burnt bay leaves as part of their research. The same substance can have slightly different effects when used in different ways.
Because the extracts in essential oils are usually highly concentrated, they are more potent than other forms of the same compound.
It is important to note that lavender leaves contain linalool, but in much smaller amounts than lavender. Lavender essential oil contains 25-38 percent linalool. Basil leaf essential oil usually contains less than 7 percent linalool.
Even lavender, which is high in linalool, does not improve anxiety on its own.