According to Greek mythology, the female nymph Daphne was transformed into a laurel tree by her father the river god Ladon to save her from the unwanted affections of the god Apollo. Hence, the bay laurel tree is often associated with Apollo.
Bay laurel was also known to be used in rituals by the Delphic oracle, a name given to of any priestess of the temple of Apollo at Delphi.
Because large doses of bay laurel leaves can have a narcotic effect it might explain why the herb was used in these rituals.
In ancient times it was believed that the bay laurel tree held magical powers, warding off evil witchcraft and disease.
The Greeks considered it as a medicine that could protect against diseases, especially against the plague and it was often devoted to Asclepios, the son of Apollo and the god of medicine.
Both the ancient Greeks and Romans considered wreaths made of bay laurel leaves as a symbol of victory and high status. (2)
Medicinal Uses of Bay Laurel in the Past
Bay laurel was not only used in ceremonies and rituals in the past but also as herbal medicine. Hippocrates used all parts of the plant as a remedy for a variety of ailments, both internally and externally.
In medieval times, the herb’s medicinal uses for ailments such as stomach problems, colic, and renal diseases were recorded by monks in handwritten medical books.