Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Bay leaf and the relief of fatigue

Hello everyone on this spooky time of Halloween to which I have no strings to, apart from the last 10 years I've been living in England. Portugal is not so much about spooky celebrations, and the one season we have mildly resembling anything that has to do with this topic might be the February's Carnival. But even that is quite joyful and scares us only when we look at our poor girls dressed on sub-tropical shorts and bras, tripping under 13 Celsius (~ 55.4 Fahrenheit).

Anyway, the matter for today's post is of a different carving; the pumpkin I am to explore today regards a post-comment from a few weeks ago linking fatigue and bay leaf as a potential remedy. I got to be honest with you guys, back in my school days Plant Physiology and Plant Biotechnology were my least favorite subjects; thus, as a punishment the Gods have made the bay leaf post one of the most read of The Toxicologist Today's posts, ever! Thanks, I guess. If you browse through the comments section on the original bay leaf post you'll find links for several other replies that I wrote through time. Or you could just use the fetch the toxic search button and look for any topic I may have written about, you choose. 

The available literature on the capacity of bay leaves to help against fatigue is minimal and quite reduced to anecdotal contributions from different non-scientific blogs. Personally, I don't like that. I am more about proper published scientific information. What was I able to find in the meantime? Not much, but my research through the free available articles draws an indirect link between fatigue and the lacking of ascorbic acid (vitamin C):

- When in deficient levels in the human body it can lead to scurvy ( a disease characterised by incapacity to produce collagen, carnitine and neurotransmitters, thus affecting skin, bones, cartilage and even blood vessels.

- This vitamin C imbalance can determine the human body to be exposed to numerous problems (see image above) that potentially are responsible for bleeding, tiredness and bruising... just to name a few of the many reported.

- Bay leaf has a content of 46.5 mg per 100 g of plant [1]. When you consider the availability of ascorbic acid in so many other types of plants and animals (access here for table) made available at News Medical Life Sciences [2], one must assume that it is quite tough to understand the reasoning behind a person's decision to resort to bay leaf infusion for battling fatigue/tiredness. Maybe the easiness and pleasantness of preparing/tasting said infusion!!! Who knows? Nevertheless, ACEROLA with 1.6 g (ascorbic acid) / 100g or simply PARSLEY with 130 mg (ascorbic acid) / 100 g would do the trick.

In addition it is referred by Elalfi et al (2016) [3] that essential oils extracted from medicinal plants (e.g. bay leaf) have the potential to exhibit anti-tyrosinase activities. Tyrosinase is, among several other things, related to fatigue if the individual is deficient in Copper (Cu2+) as it will affect blood formation. An individual affected in his/her blood formation process will most likely be subjected to tiredness and fatigue. In this sense, bay leaf can help replenish some levels of Copper since its Cu2+ content is of 0.416 mg per 100 g. Considering that an adult man/woman requires a recommended daily dosage of 0.9 mg per day, one can assume that a bay leaf infusion can to a certain extent help partly provide with the needed levels of Copper. However, it is not only important to obtain the necessary ions from different food sources but also to bear in mind potential risks associated to the intake of large amounts of a bay leaf infusion. 

Equilibrium is always the word. I guess in this case, we can say YES - a bay leaf infusion can potentially help with tiredness to a certain extent; as an aid and as part of a strategy, but not as a remedy. Moreover, an important thing to always keep in mind is the origin of such tiredness and fatigue. The understanding of the underlying symptoms are crucial for a proper diagnosis, and a medical doctor is the one to perform such scrutiny when fatigue happens to be far from being just a causality of daily tasks and impact mildly on the day-to-day life.

[1] Bay leaf, Laurus nobilis - nutritional value per 100 g, USDA National Nutrient Database.

[2] Sources of vitamin C, News Medical Life Sciences, [http://www.news-medical.net/health/Sources-of-Vitamin-C.aspx], last visited on the 1st of November 2016, last upadte unknown.

[3] Elalfi, Z. A., Fakim, A. G., Mahomoodally, M. F. (2016). "Kynetic studies of tyrosinase inhibtory activity of 19 essential oils extracted from endemicand exotic medicinal plants". South African Journal of Botany, 103, pp. 89-94.

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