Aromatherapy as a healing art has several principles. One of them is to combine traditional uses of botanicals and essential oils with analytical scientific research on chemical constituents for a holistic practice.⠀
It’s entire method of treatment operates on the wholeness of the body, the wholeness of the essential oil. Focusing only on the science lends us to a one-sided, restricted view that loses the thousands of years of ancient wisdom and knowledge that is found in traditional use. Bay laurel has been used historically for many different reasons. Let’s dive into these traditional and modern uses.⠀
Traditional Use of Bay Laurel Essential Oil
Bay laurel essential oil is the species Laurus nobilis. It is sometimes confused with bay essential oil, or West Indian bay, which is a very different plant: pimenta racemosa. Bay laurel is also known as Mediterrean bay, Grecian laurel, sweet bay, or true bay. Even more confusing, sweet bay may also be a completely other species as well.
Ancient Greeks crowned victors and scholars with crowns made of bay laurel leaves. We still incorporate these traditions in a different way: we have poet laureates and baccalaureates, words which origins come from laurus or laurel.
Bay leaves were also used for their protective properties and were worn for protection against the anger of the gods. Doctors also wore laurel to protect themselves from any infectious disease and it was considered helpful in curing pretty much anything.⠀
How We Use Bay Laurel Essential Oil
Today, we use Laurus nobilis essential oil for cough and colds, joint & muscle pain, headaches. Valerie Ann Worwood also suggests it for protection, emotional fortitude, inspiration, direction, and creativity. ⠀
Laurus nobilis is high in 1,8-cineole (eucalyptol) and is a great oil for the cough and cold season. It’s also high in alpha-pinene, linalool, terpineol acetate.
The eucalyptol and pinene content makes bay laurel a great circulatory system tonic. Use for lymphatic massage in the shower. Add 20 drops to 10 ml of carrier oil and massage lymph nodes like armpits and knees. Massage toward the heart. Combine with lemon, cypress, lime, grapefruit essential oils.
Bay laurel has historically been used for the digestive system and it is still used for flavouring in cooking. Massage clockwise on the abdomen to ease digestive symptoms.
Moodiness, Stress, Emotional Fortitude, Courage
Diffuse and inhale for emotional regulation and stress reduction.
Because of the eucalyptol content and the terpineol acetate content, bay laurel has strong inhibitory action against microbes. Diffuse, use in cleaning supplies, apply to the body. May be effective for skin concerns.
May be sensitizing. Dilute for application. Do not use on or near face of children under 6 due to 1,8-cineole content.
Valerie Ann Worwood, Aromatherapy for the Soul (Novato, CA: New World Library, 1999), 202
Molecules 2017, 22(6), 930; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules22060930
J Med Food. 2012 Jan; 15(1):51-7. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2011.1707. Epub 2011 Nov 14.