Synonyms: Bay laurel, laurel leaf, sweet bay, Mediterranean bay
Aroma: Fresh, strong but also sweet, camphoraceous and spicy
Colour: Colourless but can become yellow with age
Plant: An upright evergreen shrub with dark green lanceolate leaves and small clusters of yellow flowers followed by small black berries. The bark on mature shrubs is greyish and on younger stems it is smooth and shiny, often with a reddish tint. It can reach a height of 10-20 metres.
Main Growing Areas: Mediterranean, North Africa, Spain, Italy and Yugoslavia
Major Constituents: 1,8 cineole, linalool, eugenol, alpha-terpinyl acetate, sabinene
Interesting snippets: A garland of woven laurel leaves was awarded as a symbol of honour or victory in ancient Rome and Greece.
In the middle ages, distinguished men were crowned with a wreath of berried laurel, hence the term Poet Laureate.
In the past the laurel leaves were placed in bags of flour and grain to prevent insect infestation
Part of Plant used /Extraction: Leaves and branches / steam distillation
Therapeutic actions: antibacterial, antifungal, anti-viral, antispasmodic, oral infections and toothaches, abdominal bloating, flatulence, indigestion, stomach cramps, stimulates appetite, skin ulcers, boils, acne, abscesses, expectorant, decongestant, chronic bronchitis flu, sore muscles, physical exhaustion.
Emotional and Spiritual: poor concentration, chronic nervous debility, emotional exhaustion.
Mojay states laurel is particularly indicated for chilly, congested individuals who lack energy and confidence. It is useful for those individuals who lack self-esteem, doubt their abilities, intellectual and otherwise which can inhibit their capacity for intuitive thought. Laurel assists by stimulating both the rational and higher mind helping to renew one’s belief in one’s own boundless potential.
Keim Loughran and Bull write laurel strengthens our intuition, helps to release old outmoded thoughts about ourselves and energetically prepares us so that we can prepare and integrate new beliefs into our minds and hearts.
Worwood states that laurel is the fragrance of victors and poets who have used imagination and inspiration to attain their goals. This is the fragrance to use when the way ahead seems uncertain or fraught with danger, when impoverished thoughts fly silently through the night to disturb our dreams and our waking consciousness. To protect yet give inspiration, in the darkest hours when the mind interferes and tells us that all is lost in the challenge to conquer the shadows.
Mailhebiau writes that laurel is an antidepressant for people who are unable to verbalise and give concrete expression to their abilities and who are afraid of themselves as much as others. It then brings a powerful, exorcising fire affording the person the opportunity of a certain degree of self-domination.
Fragrant Change Healing Card: I celebrate all my successes, large and small.
Contemplations for the Soul Card:
Do you lack confidence in your ability to create and be successful?
Are you always striving to be and do more, not taking time out to celebrate the little successes on the way to your big achievement?
Are you afraid of success and what it could bring?
Are you so focussed on the final outcome that when it sometimes ends in perceived failure you fail to acknowledge the minor successes you had during the process?
The fact that you had the courage to follow your dreams is reason enough to celebrate whatever the outcome.
It’s time to celebrate all your successes and achievements both small and large in your life.
Safety: Non-irritating, non-sensitising, non-toxic. Tisserand and Young recommend caution when using on people with hypersensitive, diseased or damaged skin and children under 2 years of age. It is advisable to use laurel with caution on people with bleeding disorders or who are on blood thinners.
Note: Laurel may be adulterated with turpentine, pimento or clove oils. Don’t confuse bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) with bay oil (Pimenta racemosa) as they are two very different oils with different chemical compositions. Bay oil has a much higher eugenol content of 30-70 % compared to laurel’s 1.44%.
Atterby D, Bay Laurel Essential Oil Profile. Aromatherapy Today, Vol.58 (2013)
Battaglia S, The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy. Third Edition. Black Pepper Creative Pty Ltd, Australia (2018)
Bowles E.J, The A to Z of Essential Oils. New Burlington Books (2003)
Hodges C. Contemplations for the Soul (2016)
Hodges C, Fragrant Change Healing Cards (2015)
Keim Loughran J, Bull R, Aromatherapy Anointing Oils, Frog Books (2001)
Mailhebiau P, Portraits in Oils. The C.W.Daniel Company Ltd. (1995)
Mojay G, Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit. Hodder and Stoughton (1996)
Smith I, In Essence Vol.3 No.3 (2004)
Tisserand R and Young R, Essential Oil Safety Second Edition, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014
Worwood, V.A, The Fragrant Heavens. Doubleday Publishing UK (1999)