Mexico – Researchers at the Institute of Chemistry at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) are studying the medical properties of the Mexican laurel (litsea glaucescens), also known as the Mexican Bay Leaf, regarding the treatment of depression and anxiety, as well as its effects on the central nervous system.
Ricardo Reyes Chilpa, a scientist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico said that since before the arrival of the Spanish, some diseases of the central nervous system with plants were treated in Mexico-Tenochtitlan.
He mentioned that traditional Mexican medicine already dealt with “nervous” conditions, characterized by a state of restlessness or physical and mental discomfort that prevents daily activities.
In the Digital Gazette of UNAM, the expert said that of the almost one hundred species of plants that people use in Mexico to treat problems of this type, only some are known and very few have been studied and for proof of their effects.
He pointed out that certain plants, such as orange leaves, tila flower, damiana, valerian, rue and melissa are used to treat nervous complaints.
However, he also said that the Mexican laurel has effects on antidepressant activity in experimental models with mice, which could be due to compounds at work on the central nervous system.
He explained that there are seven species of laurel in Mexico, although only two are more used as condiments, as it is sold along with thyme and marjoram in bunches of scented herbs to flavor food.
“But what many people do not know is that it has medicinal uses related to nervous diseases,” said the scientist, who said that prior to colonization, the Mexican laurel was known as ecapatli and was only used in medicine.
Reyes Chilpa indicated that along with other researchers, he has studied the taxonomic distribution and ethnobotanical implications of laurel and the possible antidepressant activity of the essential oil of leaves of the litsea glaucescens.