No spice collection is complete without bay leaves. Even if you don’t use bay leaves yourself, perhaps you had a grandparent that used them in various dishes, such as soups or spaghetti sauces.  You may have heard, too, that swallowing a bay leaf is dangerous. For the most part, this is untrue. The leaf itself is not toxic. However, as the leaf is stiff, it may be unyielding internally if swallowed, which may lead to choking or digestive issues. But the bay leaf has more uses than just cooking! For thousands of years, humans have been using it in food due to its digestion-boosting, respiratory-enhancing and anti-inflammatory properties. Of course, it also tastes great – but only after an hour or so of simmering. If you try to eat it before then, you’ll be greeted by a rather bitter and unpleasant taste. But you don’t have to eat the bay leaf in order to reap its health benefits!


For example, let’s say you haven’t got an hour to spare. If you still want to reap the benefits of bay leaves, do you have no choice but to bite into the bitterness?

No! There’s another option – you can burn those bay leaves with a match. This intense fire will work much faster than regular simmering to release the active compounds within bay leaves. So long as you use this method properly, it’s a safe and fast way to soak up the health benefits the bay leaf has to offer.

And, indeed, by doing so and inhaling the smell (not the smoke directly), you open yourself up to a number of awesome benefits. These include the following two.

Benefit #1 – Reduced Anxiety


Sometimes life comes at you a billion miles per hour. This can leave you overwhelmed, and yes, stressed to the max. Natural remediess such as the bay leaf can help combat this stress. This is due to the fact that the bay leaf contains a compound called linalool. A study by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists found that linalool decreases anxiety and enhances social interaction.

In as little as 10 minutes of smelling a burning bay leaf, linalool begins working. Some have even described the effect as mildly psychedelic.

With all this in mind, consider incorporating burning bay leaves into your meditation session. It will help you relax and may open your mind to new revelations. Furthermore, if you experience a lot of social anxiety, try burning bay leaves before your guests are due to arrive. It will help put you at ease and make an otherwise awkward conversation go a lot more smoothly.

Benefit #2 – Respiratory Relief


Bay leaves contain mycrene and eugenol. Both of these compounds possess great anti-inflammatory properties and are, in fact, used heavily in stress reduction therapy.

When you burn a bay leaf, these compounds become airborne. Once inhaled, they will reduce any respiratory inflammation. This can work wonders if you suffer from allergies or have a bad cold. The bay leaf can help break up excess mucus or phlegm, making it easier for you to breathe.

The Benefits of the Bay Leaf Continue

Another benefit of burning bay leaves includes promoting cardiovascular health. Bay leaves are a rich source of caffeic acid, which helps strengthen the heart’s capillary walls. Furthermore, bay leaves can help lower LDL cholesterol levels. This contributes to the reduction of heart disease risk.

However, especially for respiratory illnesses, remember to not breath in the smoke directly. Otherwise, you’re only contributing to your respiratory condition. Think of it as burning incense. You wouldn’t inhale the smoke from an incense stick directly, right?

Keep in mind that for some individuals, the smoking method may cause further lung irritation, even when done properly. While it takes longer, these individuals should opt to simmer the bay leaf in water for an hour, then breath in the vapors produced.

Learn how to burn bay leaves the right way by reading the next section.

How To Burn Bay Leaves Properly

When burnt right, bay leaves will begin to unleash their benefits very quickly.

Take one dried leaf and place it in an ashtray, or another receptacle safe for burning purposes.  After ensuring the ashtray is in a safe location, away from loose paper or other potential hazards, set the leaf on fire. Then, leave the room for a few minutes. If possible, close the door behind you to let the bay leaf aroma fill the room.

When you return, blow out the embers and breathe in deeply.

If you’re not sure this method is for you, you can use the simmering route instead. This is a good method for those who don’t want to cook with it, but have the time to wait for it to simmer for an hour in water. However, burning is definitely the quicker route.

Check out this video to see what the burning process looks like!

Nature Word
Simple Organic Life
American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
Serious Eats