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"[Bay laurel essential oil] is the fragrance of victors and poets, who have each used imagination and inspiration to attain their goals," according to aromatherapist Valerie Ann Worwood in Aromatherapy For the Soul. She also writes the emotional benefits of bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) are to support confidence, inspiration, creativity, and direction.
Plant family: Lauraceae
Production: Steam distilled from the leaves and branches of the bay laurel, which is an evergreen shrub or small tree. A small amount of essential oil can be distilled from the berries, but a berry oil is more likely to be a pressed fruit oil than an essential oil.
Aroma: Spicy, sweet, fresh, balsamic.
Perfume/Aromatic note: Top to middle
Is bay laurel safe to use during pregnancy? No, according to The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy.
Is bay laurel safe for children? Do not use with children under age 2, according to Essential Oil Safety.
Cautions: May irritate sensitive skin. Frequent use on skin may cause sensitization. Too much of the fragrance may cause headaches.
Do not confuse bay laurel essential oil (Laurus nobilis) with West Indian bay (also called bay rum) essential oil (Pimental racemosa). Though they have some broad aromatic similarities, they are different oils.
Source: Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Ed.
Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art: The scent is stimulating, improves memory, relieves headaches and stress, and may stimulate digestion.
Aromatherapy for Dummies: Bay laurel is a heating, penetrating essential oil that can help relieve muscle tension. Use in a massage oil to stimulate lymph and blood circulation. The scent may repel fleas and flies.
The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (updated edition): Bay laurel oil is useful to help relieve indigestion, flatulence, loss of appetite, scanty periods, colds, and flu.
Essential Oils: All Natural Remedies: Use bay laurel to sooth aches and pains, for colds and flu, and for sleep. The oil is associated with peace, wisdom, and inner confidence.
The Complete Aromatherapy and Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness: This oil helps the digestive system and is tonic for the liver and gallbladder. Used in a massage oil blend, bay laurel can help relieve lymph congestion.
Aromatherapy For Healing the Spirit: In Traditional Chinese Medicine the primary energetic actions of bay laurel are to circulate and regulate Qi and to clear cold phlegm. The essential oil is indicated for chilly, congested people who lack energy and self confidence.
Aromatica: A Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics, Volume 2: Psychologically, laurel promotes emotional renewal, clarity, willpower, courage, and self-confidence. Physically, the essential oil restores hypotonic/weak conditions and relaxes hypertonic/tense conditions. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the essential function of the oil is to tonify the Q, activate Qi and Blood, and strengthen the Shen.
Aromatherapy and Subtle Energy Techniques: Bay laurel clears and cleanses the energy centers. Especially useful for the sixth chakra — clears mental blocks and outmoded ways of thinking and supports intuition.
To make a massage oil, add 5 drops bay laurel essential oil to 2 teaspoons carrier oil. You can use the massage oil for sore muscles or on your abdomen for digestive problems.
Sore-Muscle Relief Massage Oil
Massage Blend for Sleep
At bedtime, massage the blend into your upper chest, back of the neck, shoulders, and areas of your back you can reach.
To help relieve congestion from cold or flu, use bay laurel in a diffuser blend or in a steam inhalation. For swollen lymph glands, Advanced Aromatherapy: The Science of Essential Oil Therapy recommends rubbing a few drops of the essential oil over the glands.
Make a cleansing, uplifting room spray:
Blend ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake well before each use.
Make a body scrub that supports the lymphatic system:
Blend all ingredients in a glass jar. Use as desired for a body scrub.
Make a forming soap:
Blend all ingredients in a 2-ounce (60 ml) foam pump bottle.
Photo Credit: Bay leaves by H. Zell [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons