Laurus nobilis, belongs to the Lauraceae family. It is an evergreen upright shrub or small tree and can reach a height of twenty meters. It is native to the Mediterranean but now grows in many parts of the world including France, Spain, Italy, Morocco, former Yugoslavia, China, Israel, Turkey and Russia. ‘Laurus’ from the Latin means ‘to praise’ and ‘nobilis’ means renowned’ or ‘famous’. A crown of laurel leaves was worn by victorious generals, emperors and poets and seen to be a symbol of triumph and achievement by both Greeks and Romans.
A greenish-yellow essential oil is extracted from the dried leaves by steam distillation. Oil yield from fresh laurel leaves is around 0.5 — 3.5% and from the dried leaves around 1.25 — 2.5%. A very small amount of essential oil is steam distilled from the berries. It has a spicy, with a camphor-like undertone aroma and blends well with cypress, eucalyptus, petitgrain, fennel, geranium, ginger, citronella, pine, juniper, clary sage, rosemary, frankincense, marjoram, lavender, ylang ylang, citrus and spice oils. It’s major chemical component is the oxide 1,8-cineole at around 40%. Traditionally both the leaves and the berries were used for a variety of problems including colic, indigestion, loss of appetite, to promote menstruation, fever and hysteria. It is used as a fragrance component in detergents, cosmetics, toiletries and perfumes, especially aftershaves. Extensively used in processed food of all types as well as alcoholic and soft drinks.
Psychologically, it can be helpful for sinus headache, travel fatigue, insomnia, nervousness, depression and stress-related disorders.
On a physiological level it is useful for colds, sinus infections and sinus headaches, as well as digestive complaints. Laurel supports the ability to honor one’s self. Promotes psychic awareness and intuition. It also provides psychic protection. It can open one to new thoughts and perspectives. It can aid in releasing mental blocks and outmoded ways of thinking. Laurel helps to stimulate a renewed interest in life. It can also help to calm feelings of hysteria.
Contraindications: Do not use during pregnancy. May cause dermatitis in some individuals
Beverley Hawkins, Aromatherapy 201 Course 1999 revised 2000, 2001,2002, 2003, 2004
Mrs. M. Grieves, A Modern Herbalwww.botanical.com