Laurel decoction

Laurel decoction

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Laurel decoction

Among the most well-known and most used aromatic herbs in the kitchen there is undoubtedly the laurel, whose scientific name is “Laurus nobilis”, a plant widespread in all areas of the Mediterranean characterized by a mild climate. It is found mainly in coastal areas, in Spain, Greece and in some regions of Asia Minor. The laurel belongs to the Lauraceae family and has a thick and erect stem characterized by a dark green bark. What few people know is that in reality the laurel is a tree that can grow up to ten meters, but which is shortened by pruning, appearing as a shrub. The leaves - which we are used to seeing in the kitchen, used above all for flavoring fish dishes - are also dark green, rather thick and shiny, with a particularly intense taste. Inserted by the Ministry of Agriculture into the list of agri-food products belonging to the Italian tradition, the laurel does not require any particular care in cultivation: it grows on any soil and requires little care; badly tolerates cold and frost (the region in which it is more widespread not by chance is sunny Sicily). The part used in the kitchen is the bay leaf, which can also be used to prepare liqueurs and especially decoctions very useful for preventing and treating a series of intestinal and cooling disorders. The laurel, in fact, possesses remarkable beneficial properties known and exploited even by the ancients. Proof of this is the fact that the Greeks and Romans considered this plant sacred, which for them symbolized victory and honor: this tradition has been maintained over the centuries, since even today the laurel wreath is used to reward a success of various types, a degree or victory in a sports competition. In the past, in fact, the laurel wreath was the highest honor granted to a poet, and it was always a crown of laurel that placed on the head of the one who won the Pythian or Delphic games.

The properties of the laurel

The laurel has remarkable digestive properties that are exploited both by making decoctions (to drink hot in winter and fresh in summer, since they also have a good thirst-quenching power), both in the preparation of digestive and aromatic liqueurs to be sipped at the end of a meal. Stimulating digestion also helps intestinal regularity. Thanks to its purifying and antiseptic properties, then, it is very useful in cases of cough, sore throat, bronchitis and generally in all forms of cooling. The laurel is also able to perform an antiseptic and expectorant action, which is why, above all, those suffering from fat cough benefit from taking a laurel decoction. The laurel plant enjoys these properties thanks to the essential oils it contains and can also be used to treat headaches and neuralgia; the soothing power of laurel plants and berries is also very useful in the treatment of low back pain, rheumatism and stiff neck. What many people do not know is that, in addition to the listed effects that pertain to the organism, laurel also acts effectively in the brain and the psychological: it helps fight hypochondria, anxiety disorders resulting from stress and gastritis of nervous origin. From a strictly aesthetic point of view, the bay leaf is used successfully in foot baths, to soothe the feet felt by racing, long walks or perhaps by excessive sweat production. In fact, as well as being soothing and refreshing (many foot creams are based on laurel), laurel is excellent for curbing excessive sweating: just boil laurel berries and pour water into a basin to hold soak your feet for at least ten minutes.

Not everyone knows that this plant can also be used to soothe sunburn, erythema and all skin problems resulting from prolonged exposure to the sun: in this case the laurel decoction is poured onto special sterile gauzes to be used for real own soothing wraps. Not only that: the decoction can also be poured into the bath where you take a bath, where you can soak for as long as possible. There are no particular contraindications to the use of the laurel, even if according to some the essential oil of this plant can cause drowsiness and dermatitis; common sense dictates that it should not be used excessively, especially during pregnancy, but for any other problem it is always useful to ask for more information from the doctor or the herbalist.