Bay leaf
Bay leaf


Bay leaf is an herb that is commonly used in cooking. It comes from the bay tree (Laurus nobilis), which is commonly found in the Mediterranean region.

Bay leaf is also used in folk medicine. Chemicals in bay leaf might affect blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

People use bay leaf for diabetes, common cold, high cholesterol, asthma, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
When taken by mouth: Bay leaf is commonly consumed in foods. Bay leaf that has been ground into powder is possibly safe when used as medicine, short-term. But if you cook with whole bay leaf, remove it before eating. Eating the whole, intact leaf is likely unsafe. The leaf can't be digested, so it remains whole while passing through the digestive system. This means it can become lodged in the throat or pierce the lining of the intestines.

When applied to the skin: Bay leaf extract is possibly safe when used in cosmetics. It might cause allergic reactions in some people.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Bay leaf is commonly consumed in foods. But there isn't enough reliable information to know if bay leaf is safe to use in larger amounts as medicine when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and stick to food amounts.

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


There is interest in using bay leaf for a number of purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions

Dosing & administration

Bay leaf is commonly used in foods. As medicine, there isn't enough reliable information to know what an appropriate dose of bay leaf might be. 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 a healthcare professional before using.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Bay leaf might lower blood sugar levels. Taking bay leaf along with diabetes medications might cause blood sugar to drop too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely.

Sedative medications (CNS depressants)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Large amounts of bay leaf might cause sleepiness and slowed breathing. Some medications, called sedatives, can also cause sleepiness and slowed breathing. Taking bay leaf in large amounts with sedative medications might cause breathing problems and/or too much sleepiness.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

Herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar: Bay leaf might lower blood sugar. Taking it with other supplements with similar effects might lower blood sugar too much. Examples of supplements with this effect include aloe, bitter melon, cassia cinnamon, chromium, and prickly pear cactus.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods.
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This monograph was last reviewed on 26/08/2023 10:00:00 and last updated on 09/12/2014 23:14:02. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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