What is Laurel Essential Oil?
Laurel essential oil is a clear or pale yellow substance extracted by distillation of the leaves of Laurus nobilis L. tree, belonging to the Lauraceae family.
It has a top to mid fragrance note and its aroma is sweet, fresh, slightly minty and camphoraceous.
Normally, the essential oil of laurel blends well with: peppermint, lemon, orange, frankincense, ginger, clove, ylang ylang, rose, pine, lavender, thyme, Eucalyptus globulus or E. radiata, birch, wintergreen, rosemary, niaouli, cedarwood, bergamot, clary sage, coriander, cistus, inula, grapefruit, cypress, saro, juniper berry and cinnamon essential oils.
About Laurel (Laurus nobilis L.)
In ancient times, the plant named as “Daphne” was defined as Laurus nobilis by Goodyer in 1655.
L. nobilis, commonly known as bay, sweet bay and laurel, is an evergreen tree native to the Mediterranean region especially in Turkey, Greece, Spain, Italy and France.
Laurus nobilis L. is a plant belonging to the Lauraceae family, which comprises approximately 2500 species. The genus Laurus is found in Europe and consists of the two species Laurus azorica and Laurus nobilis.
The aforementioned tree grows between 3-10 m in height and possesses yellow flowers. Its leaves, which are not shed during winter, are 5-10 cm long, 2-5 cm wide, and green in color. The fruits are small and olive-like.
Its leaves, which have been used as a spice since antiquity, primarily because of its essential oil content, are harvested principally in Turkey from wild growing plants.
Dried laurel leaves and their essential oil are widely used as flavor enhancers for foods such as meats, soups, sauces, confectionery and fish.
The leaves of L. nobilis are traditionally used orally to treat the symptoms of gastrointestinal problems, such as epigastric bloating and flatulence.
Also, it have been used, in Iranian folk medicine, to treat epilepsy, neuralgia, and parkinsonism. Besides, leaves of L. nobilis are widely used in the past to treat rheumatism in European folk medicine.
Likewise, the aqueous extract is used in Turkish folk medicine as an anti-hemorrhoidal, anti-rheumatic, diuretic, as an antidote in snakebites, for the treatment of stomachache and diuretic.
More recently, they have been used in the treatment of diabetes and migraines.
Additionally, it is known that the essential oil of laurel is widely used in the perfume and soap industries, as well as in drugs.
Chemical Components of Laurel Essential Oil
The main active components of laurel oil include: 1,8 cineole (31.9-68.82%), sabinene (3.32-12.2%) trans-sabinene hydrate (10.2%), ⍺-pinene (3.39-5.8%), β-pinene (3.6%), -terpinene (1%), ⍺-terpinyl acetate (5.9-9.0%), isopulegol (2.5%), linalool (3.8%), ⍺-terpineol (3.3-4.7%), eugenol (1.6%) and other components at less then 1%.
Properties of Laurel Essential Oil
The essential oil of laurel has analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitumoral, anticarcinogenic, antiviral, antiparasitic, expectorant, immune modulatory, anti-inflammatory, mucolytic, neurotonic and stimulant therapeutic properties.
Uses of Laurel Essential Oil
Among the most common uses of Laurus nobilis oil are:
- Strengthens Immune system.
- Helps to decongest the lymphatic system (* 3-10 drops applied topically over lymph nodes effectively supports the lymphatic system in its task of eliminating metabolic waste).
- Natural treatment for edema.
- Soothes strains, rheumatism, muscle or joint stiffness. Excellent, in combination with birch and lavender oils, in treating muscular aches and pains, especially after physical exertion.
- Alleviates symptoms of fibromyalgia, plantar fasciitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Diminishes nervous tension, exhaustion, poor concentration, lack of memory, depression and nervous asthenia.
- Fights bronchitis, colds, flu or influenza and viral infections. Bay laurel is an expectorant, counteracts catarrh symptoms, and has a very broad antimicrobial spectrum. It is most effective when used topically. It can be used in acute stages of bronchitis or influenza.
- Treatment for skin conditions such as oily skin, acne, boils, slow-healing wounds, ulcers and fungal infections/mycoses.
- Emotionally, it helps low self-esteem, self-distrust, lack of energy, inability to move forward. Inhalation of laurel essential oil increased vigilance in a visual discrimination task.
Benefits of Laurel Essential Oil
Anticholinergic drugs inhibit the transmission of parasympathetic nerve impulses, thereby reducing spasms of smooth muscles (for example, muscles in the bladder).
Side effects of anticholinergic medications include dry mouth and related dental problems, blurred vision, tendency toward overheating (hyperpyrexia), and in some cases, dementia-like symptoms.
Essential oil, ethanolic extract and decoction of Laurus nobilis were analyzed for their activity towards acetylcholinesterase (AChE) enzyme. The research showed AChE inhibitory capacity higher than 50% in the essential oil fraction. It also showed a high inhibition value of AChE in the ethanolic fraction 64%.
These results suggest that laurel essential oil could be an excellent alternative to conventional medications, and without side effects.
Ozcan et al. (2010), determined the potential antioxidant activity of the essential oil and methanolic extract of seed oil from Laurus nobilis by employing DPPH free radical scavenging and β-carotene/linoleic acid test systems.
In both test systems the essential oil and the methanolic extract of seed oil of L. nobilis exhibited antioxidant properties.
The essential oil of Laurus nobilis was evaluated for anticonvulsant activity against experimental seizures.
The essential oil protected mice against tonic induced seizures, especially by pentylenetetrazole.
At anticonvulsant doses, the essential oil produced sedation and motor impairment. This effect can be due to components such as methyleugenol, eugenol and pinene present in laurel essential oil.
Insect repellent effect
Essential oils extracted from the seeds of fresh foliage of laurel Laurus nobilis Linn. were tested for their repellent activity against the adult females of Culexpipiens, usually the most common pest mosquito in urban and suburban. The essential oils showed repellent activity.
Antimicrobial / Antibacterial activity
Laurel essential oil displayed antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium.
The antimicrobial activity of the essential oil was tested against a panel of foodspoiling bacteria and one yeast strain.
The minimum inhibitory concentration values for food-spoiling bacteria and yeast strain that were sensitive to L. nobilis essential oil ranged from 125-2000 μg/ml.
E. coli, Candida albicans, Salmonella enteritidis and L. monocytogenes had MIC values of 125, 250 and 500 g/ml, respectively and were most sensitive to Laurus nobilis.
Hassiotis (2010), investigated the influence of aromatic L. nobilis on the development of two mycorrhizal species, Glomus deserticola and Glomus intraradices.
Both mycorrhizal fungi colonized successfully the host plants, positively influencing their growth. G. deserticola presented higher infection level than G. intraradices.
Addition of L. nobilis oil into substrates resulted in mycorrhiza inhibition, and the level of inhibition was analogous with the amount of added essential oil. The fungi were benefited by the aromatic compounds up to 15 mg of essential oil per liter of soil.
However 30 and 60 mg/l of essential oil were able to create significant inhibition in mycorrhiza development and to restrict the host growth.
In other research, the potential of L. nobilis essential oils against species belonging to Eurotium, Aspergillus and Penicillium genus was demonstrated.
Biological assays showed that fungitoxicity against Fusarium moniliforme, Rhizoctonia solani, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and Phytophthora capsici was due to different concentrations of the phenolic fraction in the essential oils.
Cytotoxic / Anticancer activity
The growth inhibitory effects of the fresh and stored laurel essential oil on five human cancer lines were examined.
The fresh essential oil exhibited maximum growth inhibitory effects on all cell lines, more than stored essential oil.
Among the cancer cell lines: breast cell line and lung cell line both exhibited same effect of bay leaf essential oil (IC50 value of 0.8 μg/ml), followed by brain cancer cell line with an IC50 value of 0.9 μg/ml.
Cervix cell line exhibited lowest sensitivity to essential oil (IC50 value of 1.8 μg/ml) (El-Sawi et al. 2009).
In vitro cytotoxic activity of three different extracts of leaves of bay was evaluated against human peripheral blood mononuclear cells and three human cancer cell lines (Lung, Breast and Colon) by sulforhodamine B assay.
Methanol extract rich in phenols, flavonols and flavonoids was found to be significantly more active and potent against all the cancer cell lines as compared to petroleum ether and aqueous extract of bay leaves, but all three crude extracts lack cytotoxic effects on normal human cells.
An α-glucosidase inhibition assay was applied to evaluate the in-vitro antidiabetic activity of laurel essential oil.
The study found, that laurel essential oil and its 1,8-cineole content inhibited the α-glucosidase competitively.
Warnings and Precautions when using Laurel Essential Oil
- Caution for children: Avoid application of 1,8 cineole-rich essential oils to the face or near the nose of infants and children under age of 3 to 5.
- Do not instill 1,8 cineole-rich essential oils into the nose of infants or children under the age of 5.
- Dermal application caution: Use caution when applying Laurel essential oil to hypersensitive, diseased or damaged skin, or on the skin of children under 2 years of age.
- This oil has a high 1,8-cineole content that can cause central nervous system and breathing problems in young children.
- It is also a potential mucous membrane irritant (low risk) and skin sensitizer (low risk).
- Avoid use on hypersensitive, diseased or damaged skin and on children less than 2 years of age.
- IFRA recommends a maximum dermal use level of 0.01%; Tisserand recommends 0.5%.
- Dilute with a carrier oil before using.
- A patch test should be performed before use for those with sensitive skin.
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Where to Buy Laurel Essential Oil?
Generally, good quality oils, that is, 100% pure, therapeutic grade and not mixed with other substances, can be found in specialized natural herb stores.
Tips for a better performance and duration of your oils:
- Store them in a dark glass bottle, never plastic, not even when blended with a carrier oil.
- Keep them in cool, dark places, away from sources of heat and light.
- Maintain the container that holds it tightly closed, since they are very volatile and also, their properties would be lost or modified.