Laurel medicinal properties

Laurus nobilis L.


Common noun: Sweet bay, Bay Tree, Sweet bay, Grecian Laurel, True Laurel,

Scientific noun: Laurus nobilis L.

Family: Sweet bay family - Lauraceae

Habitat: Cultivated tree, sometimes established in cool and wet places.

Dibujo de laurel
Sweet bay drawing by courtesy of ©

Descripción of Sweet bay

Perennial tree of the Sweet bay family - Lauraceae- Erect stems with dark bark. Undivided leaves, alternate, lanceolate, coriaceous and shining with wavy margins. Unisexual flowers. Male ones showing 8 to 14 stamens; female ones with 4 petals. All of them yellowish and joined in axillary umbels, with short stems. Fruit in bay, black.

Picking-up and storing Sweet bay

Leaves should be collected after bloom, although this can be done all throughout the year. Fruits when well-ripened. Both of them should be dried in the shade and stored in airtight containers in a dry and dark place.

Main components of Sweet bay

- Acids: acetic, formic, pelargonic, propionic (leaves) cinnamic, lauric (fruits) caproic, linoleic, oleic, (plant)

- Sabinene (leaves and fruits)

- Limonene (leaves and fruits)

- Terpinen (fruits)

- Camphene (leaves)

- Alpha-pinene, alpha-terpinene, alpha-terpineol, beta-pinene, gamma-terpinen (leaves and berries)

- Minerals: manganese, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, sodium, zinc.

- Alcohols: eugenol (leaves)


Internal use

sweet bay leaves
Dry sweet bay leaves

- Digestive tract stimulant, antispasmodic, hepatic and carminative: It increases secretions and favours peristalsis, contributing to digestion, helping the stomach and liver and preventing, flatulence, aerophagia, gastritis, heartburn, hiatal hernia and intestinal spasms.

Eugenol is fundamental because of its carminative, antiulcerous and hepatoprotective properties. (Infusion of a couple of leaves in a cup of water for 10 minutes. Take 4 cups a day)

- Expectorant, bronchial and flu: In case of respiratory diseases it has a beneficial effect against flu, bronchitis, cough and respiratory tract illnesses in general (pharyngitis, laryngitis, etc.)

Cineol, present in essential oil, plays an important role considering its antibacterial, antitussive and antibronchitic properties.

But, besides cineol, there are many other components working in the same sense, such as acetic acid, alpha-pinene and camphene. (The same infusion seen above can be suitable for this purpose) (4 drops of essential oil tree times a day)

- Antiarteriosclerotic: Linoleic, oleic and lauric acids bestow it circulatory properties for the treatment of arteriosclerosis and the improvement of blood circulation. It can be useful for the treatment of vascular problems related with a bad peripheral blood flow, such as chilblains (The previous treatments are appropriate)

- Antirheumatic: It helps to fight rheumatic diseases, alleviating pain and relieving inflammation of affected joints (4 drops of essential oil 3 times a day)

- Diuretic: It favours liquid elimination of the body, being very interesting, not only for obesity treatment, but also in all those maladies which improve when water is drained from the body together with toxins, such as, cellulite, uric acid, gout, arthritis, rheumatism, etc. (Infusion of two leaves in a cup of water for 10 minutes, Take 4 cups a day)

Main curative properties of sweet bay

properties seet bay

- Amenorrhea: For amenorrhea or lack of temporary menstruation (Infusion of a teaspoon of dry leaves crumbled by water cup. To take during 7 days before the menstruation 2 cups every day)

External use of Sweet bay

- Antirheumatic: It helps to diminish rheumatic pain in illnesess like arthritis by applying the anti-inflammatory properties of alpha-pinene and beta- pinene on the affected articulation. (ointment of essential oil, extracted from the fruits)

- Skin: It is suitable for the external treatment of skin illnesses caused by fungi - acetic acid has fungicide properties- besides lumps, ulcers, burns, acne, etc. It exerts bacteriostatic and renewing functions on the epidermis. (Macerate during 15 days a handful of berries in 250 gr. of olive oil. Filter it and apply with a bandage the resulting liquid on the affected part of the skin (Pour some dry leaves into the water of the bath, some minutes before taking it) The same treatment can be useful for eczema.


Cosmetic uses of Sweet bay

- Essential oil of sweet bay, considering its flavour richness, is present in the composition of many perfume industry products, which elaborates creams and lotions with it, not only because of flavourous qualities but its beneficial properties for skin, too.

- Hair treatment: It seems that it exerts a regenerating effect on scalp, together with a big efficiency to fight dandruff, dry hair and seborrhea and some other disturbances related with hair fall. So, it can help preventing baldness or delaying it. (Massages with the essential oil on the scalp before going to bed and in the morning may be advantageous)

Edible uses of sweet bay:

- Spice: Sweet bay has been used as a spice in cookery to flavour diverse dishes, such as meat, soups, etc. Also in racy preparations by the side of little onions and peppers. The whole leave can be placed inside the stew or smash it to powder the meal. It never be forgotten to avoid serving the leave to the guest, since it can cut his mouth easily.

Nutritional composition of Sweet bay leaves

The food composition of sweet bay for every 100 gr. is the following:

Composition of bay leaves per 100g
Water 5.5gr.
Calories 313 kcal
Lipids 8.3 gr.
Carbohydrates 74.97 gr.
Fiber 26.3 gr.
Calcium 834 mg.
Potassium 529 mg.
Magnesium 120 mg.
Phosphorus 113 mg.
Vitamin C 46.5 mg.
Niacin 2000 mg.high
Vitamin B-6 1000 mg.high
Folic acid 180 mcg.high

high = High content

Symbolic uses of sweet bay

Traditionally it is a plant that has symbolised victory. It was used by The Greeks and Romans to make crowns with which winners were rewarded, either in games or in the battle field. It is a symbol which generally glittered in the heads of poets and emperors.

It was supposed this tree could never be reached by lightenings. This is the reason why many Roman people place some branches in their houses. They generally took then in their hands during thunderstorms so as not to be caught by a lightening.

Veterinary uses of sweet bay

Traditionally a paste has been elaborated from its fruits in order to fight parasites.

Toxicity of Sweet bay

It is not very appropriate to take large doses of this plant, since it can result harmful to people with frail stomachs, to whom it may produce vomiting by overstimulation of digestive tract.

Being in contact with the skin, it can also produce foto-sensibility - adverse dermatologic reactions derived from big light exposures - in people allergic to this plant, who should refrain from taking this plant even when cooked.

punto rojo More information about natural medicine in the listing above.

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This material is for informational purposes only. In case of doubt, consult the doctor.
"Botanical" is not responsible for damages caused by self-medication.