If you’ve ever stepped inside a yoga studio or new age book shop, you may have noticed that these places sometimes have a very particular smell. This is because many of these locations regularly practice smudging (1), a Native American tradition that uses the smoke of sacred herbs to purify a room. This ritual is similar to the act of burning incense. While the practice of smudging is commonly associated with sage, there are other herbs you can use and more concrete benefits you can enjoy.
Why Burn Bay Leaves
Bay leaves have been a things of legends for millennia: whether its incontestable role in Greek and Roman folklore or its steady presence in Indian and Caribbean culture and cuisine, this herb has withstood the test of time.
But bay leaves aren’t just used in food and fairytales, the herb is commonly used as a fragrance ingredient in creams, lotions, perfumes, soaps, and detergents.
Traditionally, the leaf is used as a sedative, analgesic, anticonvulsant and anti-inflammatory, The herb also has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties and lowers both blood pressure and heart rate. It’s often used to help treat insomnia, chronic stress and to alter mood (2).
As a culinary herb, bay leaf can help manage glucose levels and cholesterol levels in people with diabetes and prevent kidney stones (3). Taken as a tea, bay leaf can prevent the growth and spread of Leukemia and cause apoptosis in other cancerous cells (4).
How To Use Bay Leaves
Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from cooking with this herb to get these benefits, just make sure you remove the leaves before serving, as they can be a chocking hazard.
However, if you’re feeling stressed or you’re a bad mood, simply burn a leaf or two in an aluminum baking tray in your room or office and leave for ten minutes. Make sure you close the windows (a breeze could knock it over), keep the tray away from anything flammable (like paper, wood, or linens) and make sure you’re not burning it under a smoke detector.
When you come back inside, the smoke of the herb will make your mind and muscles feel more relaxed and you’ll find it easier to focus on your task at hand. When you’re done, dispose of the ashes outside.