Bay Laurel Oil: Benefits, Uses, Properties, and Side Effects
From reducing muscle pain, joint pain to alleviating colds and coughs, the bay laurel oil benefits are abundant. It has been used as a natural decongestant since ages. You will be fascinated to read the fact that laurel leaf helps in recovering emotional trauma.
Let’s understand more about laurel oil and the ways it can benefit your health.
What Is Laurel Oil?
Laurel oil is extracted from the fruits and leaves of the laurel plant. It is a well-known flavoring agent with innumerable medicinal properties.
The laurel plant belongs to the family called Lauraceae. It is an evergreen tree, which is native to the Mediterranean region. It grows to a height of 3 to 10 meters and bears yellow flowers, giving small, olive-like fruits. The leaves are rich-green and grows 2 – 5 cm wide and 5 – 10 cm long. They don’t shed during winters.
Scientific Name Of Laurel Oil
The botanical name of laurel is Laurus nobilis.
History Of Laurel Oil
Laurel has other names such as bay laurel, sweet bay, true bay, Grecian laurel, true Roman or Turkish laurel, and Mediterranean bay. The Laurus nobilis is one of the plants of the Lauraceae species that has many physiological properties.
Laurus nobilis is different from California Bay (Umbellularia california), West Indian Bay (Pimenta Racemosa), and the poisonous cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus).
They are entirely different oils with different biological qualities. In ancient times, people used to make crowns from Bay Leaves to honor the talents and achievements in Greece and Rome.
The names Poet Laureate, Baccalaureate, or bachelor’s degree, also come from the same tradition.
Both the leaves and the berries of laurel are popular for its medicinal properties. It has been used since ancient times to treat fevers, immunity issues, menstruation pain, hysteria, indigestion, and appetite loss.
Today, bay leaves are popular as a culinary herb. On the other hand, laurel oil obtained from laurel fruits is used for making soaps.
Steam distilled oil from laurel leaves is useful in aromatherapy. It also has antimicrobial, antifungal, antioxidant, and other properties, which make laurel oil a valuable substance for use in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. But make sure you buy the right bay oil to make the most of it.
Color, Consistency, and Smell Of Laurel Oil
- The color of laurel oil is clear to pale-yellowish-green.
- The consistency of laurel oil is thin.
- The smell of laurel oil is camphoros, spicy, fruity, floral, softer, and sweet.
Properties Of Laurel Essential Oil
- Antioxidant – Inhibits oxidation, prevents early aging signs, and other diseases
- Anti-diabetic – Fights against diabetes
- Acetylcholine esterase inhibitor – Fights nerve and muscle diseases
- Antimicrobial – Fights bacteria
- Antitumor – Effective against cancerous cells
- Anti-inflammatory – Prevents and treats swelling and redness
- Analgesic – Relieves pain
- Antifungal – Fights fungi
- Sweetener – Adds a unique flavor to foods
- Aromatic – Adds a refreshing and relaxing fragrance
- Tonic – Heals your body
Chemical Compounds In Laurel Oil
The chemical structure of laurel oil comprises of:
- R-(+)- limonene
- l- phellandrene
- α – terpinene
- Benzene, 4-ethenyl-1,2-dimethyl
- α-campholen aldehyde
- Endobornyl acetate
- Bicyclo[3.1.1]hep-2-en-2-carboxy aldehyde 6,6-dimethyl
- 2(1H)-naphthalenon-octahydro-8a-hidroksi-4a-methyl (cis)
Health Benefits Of Bay Laurel Oil
The most prominent bay laurel oil benefits include:
1. Helps treat diabetes
Diabetes is a condition where there the person’s blood sugar levels are high. When you have food, your body converts the food to glucose/sugar, which reaches your blood.
Alpha-glucosidase, an enzyme that helps your body convert the food to sugar. Your body uses the same sugar for carrying out your day to day functions. If there is any remaining sugar, your body converts that to body fat, when you are fasting or having less food than what you need, your body converts the stored fat to glucose, and uses it.
A study says that laurel essential oil checks the action of alpha-glucosidase. Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors are medicines that slow down the conversion of food or carbohydrates to glucose.
The best thing is that laurel oil has such action, helping you to prevent a sudden rise in your blood sugar levels and assisting in lowering the HbA1c values.
*HbA1c is a test that measures your average blood glucose over a period of few months.
The compounds 1, 8-cineole, 1-(S)-α–pinene, and R-(+)-limonene present in the oil inhibit the alpha-glucosidase action by over 90%.
Though the bioactive compounds present in the laurel oil are in smaller amounts, their synergistic and antagonist actions do the magic.
Since 1980, the researchers are concluding that oxidation is one of the major causes of diabetes, and also oxidative levels are higher in diabetes. Antioxidants present in laurel oil reduce oxidation, thus, help you improve your diabetes (1, 2, 3).
2. Effective against tumor cells
R-(+)-limonene present in laurel oil fights against tumor cells. A research paper published in 2007 states that L. nobilis oil has antitumor potency and works best at a concentration of 75.45 microg/ml on amelanotic melanoma C32/ skin cancer, and at a concentration of 78.24 microg/ml on renal cell adenocarcinoma ACHN/ cancer of the kidney.
Another paper published in the Advances in the Experimental Medicine and Biology in 1996 claims that limonene has chemotherapeutic activity against the mammary, pancreatic, and prostatic tumors. Also, they are effective non-toxic dietary agents.
3. Treats nerve problems
Laurel oil inhibits acetylcholine esterase. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that helps in the functioning of your nerves. Acetylcholine esterase dissolves acetylcholine. They are helpful in diseases such as:
- Dementia: A condition that is characterized by severe memory loss.
- Parkinson’s: A condition where there’s excessive trembling initially, but when it gets severe, the affected person needs care as he/she loses the basic sensations and controls such as passing out urine or stools.
- Myasthenia gravis: A condition where there is an excess spasm of muscles, disturbing day-to-day activities. (7, 8, 9, 10, 11).
4. Cures asthma
The compound 1, 8 cineole present in L. nobilis essential oil has mucolytic action. Thus, it eases your asthma.
Asthma is a state where the airways constrict, and there is excess mucus production as well as inflammation, making the breathing process difficult.
Besides asthma, laurel oil is also useful in upper and lower respiratory diseases like bronchitis - inflammation in the airways. So, the next time you experience cold & flu symptoms, try diffusing a few drops of laurel essential oil via diffuser and inhale its aroma to relax.
It also has an expectorant action, meaning that it helps you get rid of your sputum, relieving congestion in your chest. (12)
5. Inhibits oxidation
Oxidation is a process where your body generates harmful free radicals. This, in turn, fastens the aging signs and paves the way for multiple diseases.
Chemicals, harmful rays, and pollutants which we come across in our day-to-day lives also cause oxidation. Now, antioxidants are compounds that prevent oxidation or neutralize free radicals.
Bay laurel essential oil is a rich source of antioxidants like 1,8-cineole, 1-(S)-α-pinene, and R-(+)- limonene. A study published in 2013 confirms the same.
Laurel oil fights free radicals such as DPPH/ 2, 2, diphenylpicrylhydrazyl, hydroxyl, superoxide radical, and hydrogen peroxide successfully.
It also exhibits higher antioxidant activity when compared to the individual antioxidants. (13)
6. Destroys microbes
Laurel essential oil has antimicrobial or bacteria-fighting properties. Thanks to 1, 8-cineole, R-(+)-limonene, sabinene, α-pinene, linalool, and α-terpinyl acetate.
It exerts a strong antibacterial activity against Gram-negative & Gram-positive foodborne pathogens like Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and food spoilage bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
The oil carries the highest effectiveness against Enterobacter species with an inhibition diameter of 22.4 mm. According to a report published in 2018, P. aeruginosa is the most resistant strain.
Another study reports, E.Coli that was resistant to the antibiotic ampicillin is sensitive to the pure laurel oil and has a mild sensitivity to the diluted oil. The oil acts by denaturing proteins, inhibiting the enzymes, and affecting the cell membranes of harmful bacteria.
A unique property of laurel oil is that it causes no harm to the gut-friendly bacteria present in your body. (14)
7. Relieves pain
R-(+)-limonene present in Laurus nobilis oil has analgesic or pain-relieving action. A report published in 2003 talks about the antinociceptive properties of laurel oil.
8. Reduces inflammation
1, 8 cineole, R-(+)-limonene, and 1-(S)-α-pinene present in laurel oil have anti-inflammatory potential. It prevents the signs of inflammation like loss of function or difficulty in moving, swelling, redness, pain, and high temperature.
The anti-inflammatory effects of laurel essential oil are comparable to the standard NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) like piroxicam.
Another study published in 2004 says that 1, 8 cineole prevents colitis (inflammation in the bowel).
The study concludes the dietary use of 1, 8 cineole as a flavoring agent prevents the inflammation of the GIT (Gastro-Intestinal Tract) and ulceration.
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils states that laurel oil is useful in tonsillitis (inflammation of tonsils). A research paper published in 2018, on the composition of properties of laurel, reports that it is useful in rheumatism & dermatitis.
*Ulcer is when the upper protective layer of the skin or the mucous membrane erodes, exposing the inner sensitive layer.
*Rheumatism is a disease wherein there’s an inflammation in the joints.
9. Prevents fungal growth
R-(+)-limonene present in laurel oil inhibits the growth of fungi such as P. infestans in a dose-dependent manner. At a concentration of 51.2 micrograms/ml, laurel essential oil inhibits the growth of fungi.
10. Natural food sweetener
1, 8 cineole, a compound that forms the greatest bioactive compound in Laurus nobilis essential oil is well-known as a sweetening agent in foods.
What Blends With Laurel Oil?
Laurel oil blends the best with:
- Bergamot oil
- Lemon oil
- Clove bud oil
- Black pepper oil
- Cypress oil
- Pine oil
- Coconut oil
- Sweet almond oil
- Lavender oil
How To Use Laurel Oil?
- Though it’s non-allergic, it may cause allergy in some. Do a patch test to help you know if you have sensitive skin. Mix a drop of laurel oil with 200 drops of carrier oil, and apply a little amount of it using a cotton bud over the inner surface of your forearm.
- Do not use it during pregnancy or nursing.
- If you have a normal to blemished skin, you can make a face spray made of laurel oil with the following ingredients:
1 teaspoon of aloe vera juice, 4 ounces of water, 2 drops of laurel oil, and 2 drops of lavender oil.
Mix them well, and keep it aside for 24 hours. After a day, shake it again thoroughly, and strain it through a coffee filter to strain the oil globules present in it.
- While bathing, you can mix a few drops of laurel oil with any carrier oil. Use this mixture to massage your armpits and knees. Laurel acts as a tonic, and using it during your bath helps your pores absorb it.
Side Effects Of Laurel Oil
- Laurus nobilis oil can irritate your skin, and make your skin more sensitive.
- Remember to follow your doctor’s advice, especially if you are a senior citizen, suffering from any disease, or on certain medications.
- The oil may cause cancer in a few cases.
- The use of this oil is not recommended for children, as it can cause problems in breathing and nervous system.
- Do not use this as a bath oil, to avoid sensitivity.