Despite receiving very little credit, the Bay Leaf has been considered a sacred herb for centuries, hosting various medicinal elements that can benefit the mind and body. These complex little leaves host various naturally occurring compounds that offer us both anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and much more when orally consumed, but what about when they are used in smudging?
Read the following text to familiarize yourself with this cherished medicine and the benefits that follow when applied to a smudging session.
What are bay leaves?
Essentially, the bay leaf is an aromatic leaf that is most commonly used in cooking and has been part of human herbal usage for centuries. This herb can be used whole whether that be in dried or ground form. However, there is a not-so-popular application of this leaf that is quickly rising in the world of herbalists… Smudging! Yes, you read the correctly. Not only are bay leaves a vital ingredient in a home-cooked curry, but they can also be used when smudging.
What is smudging?
This is a practice that involves the burning of sacred herbs or resins. This is most commonly performed during a ritual or ceremony and has been widely practiced by Indigenous peoples across the globe. However, we have found evidence of smudging and sage burning that goes all the way back to Egypt’s 5th dynasty which occurred roughly 4,500 years ago! That being said, smudging has been sacredly practiced, even in ancient times.
Benefits of smudging bay leaves at home
Burning bay leaves, like many herbs, can offer us relaxing effects and help us wind down at the end of a long day as we prepare for slumber… But how? We can thank one of the many compounds found in the bay leaf called linalool. This naturally occurring chemical is found in many differing flowers, spices, and other plants. Linalool is known for treating anxiety and can help with managing stress. Not to mention, it also contains flavonoids that help in creating the scent associated with the leaves.
Due to its stress minimizing properties, it is a great aid for sleeping disorders and, in some cases, even insomnia. Using this smudge before bed can help prevent ill quality sleep. Of course, improving the quality of one’s sleep is a complex path, however, these little (yet potent) leaves are worth a try. There have been various studies performed on mice showing the powerful effects of this leaf.
Linalool is also found in the common herb lavender and is the compound that gives it the relaxing effects we all know and love it for. It is helpful to note that there are much higher qualities of this soothing compound found in lavender vs bay leaves. That being said, if you want to amplify the stress-relieving aspects of your smudging experience, go ahead and smudge a bit of Lavender as well. Together, they can work synergistically and create the ultimate duo for stress and anxiety management.
How to smudge with bay leaf
Like most things in life, moderation is key! The same goes for smudging bay leaves. Create a relaxing setting, whether that be in your living room or bedroom, and start smudging just as you would with sage. Focus on your smudge and use with intent, filling your space with its healing vapour.
Do not exceed 10 minutes of smudging. Perhaps, even 5 minutes will do the trick in a smaller space. Ensure you have a few windows open about half way. Go with what you think is necessary depending on the strength of your burn and the size of your space. Just as burning any herb, overdoing it can be detrimental for your lungs and other areas of health.
I hope you enjoyed this little herbal lesson on smudging bay leaves. I also hope that these tidbits of information can assist you in bringing relaxing and light energy into your space. Happy smudging!