Sweet Bay

What other names is Bay Leaf known by?

Bay, Bay Laurel, Bay Tree, Daphne, Grecian Laurel, Laurel, Laurel Común, Laurier d'Apollon, Laurier Noble, Laurier-Sauce, Laurier Vrai, Laurus nobilis, Mediterranean Bay, Noble Laurel, Roman Laurel, True Bay.

What is Bay Leaf?

Sweet bay is an herb. The Greeks made it famous by crowning their heroes with wreathes made out of sweet bay leaves. In addition to decorative use, the leaves and oil are used to make medicine.

Sweet bay is used to treat cancer and gas; stimulate bile flow; and cause sweating.

Some people apply sweet bay to the scalp for dandruff. It is also put on the skin for pain, especially muscle and joint pain (rheumatism).

The fruit and fatty oils of sweet bay are used on the skin to treat boils (furuncles) caused by infected hair follicles.

Veterinarians use sweet bay as an udder ointment.

In food, sweet bay is used as a seasoning in cooking and in processed foods.

In manufacturing, the oil is used in cosmetics, soaps, and detergents.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Diabetes. Early research suggests that taking ground bay leaf twice daily along with medication for diabetes can lower pre-meal blood sugar levels, as well as levels of cholesterol, "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and blood fats called triglycerides in people with diabetes. Also, taking ground bay leaf seems to increase "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels in these people.
  • Cancer.
  • Gas.
  • Stimulating bile flow.
  • Causing sweating.
  • Dandruff, when applied to the skin.
  • Joint and muscle pain (rheumatism), when applied to the skin.
  • Boils, when applied to the skin.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of bay leaf for these uses.

Quick GuideVitamin D Deficiency: How Much Vitamin D Is Enough?

Vitamin D Deficiency: How Much Vitamin D Is Enough?

How does Bay Leaf work?

Sweet bay contains ingredients that might cause sleepiness and might act against some bacteria and fungi.

Are there safety concerns?

Bay leaf and bay leaf oil is LIKELY SAFE for most people in food amounts. Ground bay leaf is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts, short-term. But, if you cook with whole bay leaf, be sure to remove it before eating the food. Taking the whole, intact leaf by mouth is LIKELY UNSAFE. The leaf can't be digested, so it remains intact while passing through the digestive system. This means it can become lodged in the throat or pierce the lining of the intestines.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking bay leaf if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Diabetes: Bay leaf might interfere with blood sugar control. Monitor blood sugar closely if you have diabetes and use bay leaf as a medicine.

Surgery: Bay leaf might slow down the central nervous system (CNS). There is a concern that it might slow down the CNS too much when combined with anesthesia and other medications used during and after surgery. Stop using bay leaf as a medicine at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Bay leaf can lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking bay leaf along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.



Medications for pain (Narcotic drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

The body breaks down some medications for pain to get rid of them. Bay leaf might decrease how fast the body gets rid of some medications for pain. By decreasing how fast the body gets rid of some medications for pain, bay leaf might increase the effects and side effects of some medications for pain.

Some medications for pain include meperidine (Demerol), hydrocodone, morphine, OxyContin, and many others.



Sedative medications (CNS depressants)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Bay leaf might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking bay leaf along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.

Some sedative medications include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and others.

Dosing considerations for Bay Leaf.

The appropriate dose of sweet bay depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for sweet bay. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Last Editorial Review: 3/29/2011