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Laurus nobilis


Laurus nobilis

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name


Genus Name


Vernacular Name

Bay laurel, bay tree, turkish laurel, laurel, common bay, sweet bay

Original Habitat

L. nobilis, an aromatic evergreen tree, can grow to an extreme height of 18 metres. The tree has either male or female flowers and must be pollinated by bees. L. nobilis grows well in many conditions and is found in the Mediterranean area and in the Middle East. Historically, this tree was sacred to the ancient Greeks; the bay leaves were used to make the head wreaths to crown the Olympians.

Plant Part Used



The essential oil of L. nobilis is found in various foods, candies and beverages. It is also found in some cosmetic products, but with the camphorous scent, it is more often found in products for men.[1] The 1 8-cineole is the constituent that is used most often in fragrance and flavouring.[2] In therapeutic aromatherapy, it is used both as a single oil and in formulations mixed with a carrier.


The oil is obtained by steam distillation of the leaves and branchlets. Oils obtained will likely vary in properties depending on geographic region and the time during the growth cycle when the leaves are harvested.[3] The moderately thin essential oil of L. nobilis is very pale yellow to pale green with a strong sweet/spicy aroma and lemony dry-out note.

Chemical Constituents

Terpenic oxides: 1,8 cineole (35-45%)
Monoterpenols: Linalool (8-16%) geraniol
Phenols: Eugenols (3%)
Terpenic esters: Terpenyle acetate (6%), linalyle acetate
Terpenic esters: Methyl eugenol (6.7%)
Sesquiterpenic lactones (2%) [3][4][5][6]

Note: This monograph reports on this essential oil in regard to its potential use in the French school of aromatherapy, as well as reporting any additional science that has been published.  The ratings range from +, indicating a lower therapeutic value, to ++++ indicating a higher therapeutic value.

Medicinal Uses

Bactericidal (Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Klebsiella) ++
Virucidal +++
Fungicidal (Candida albicans and Candida tropicalis) +++
Anti-catarrhal, expectorant +++
Potent analgesic +++
Sympathetic and parasympathic regulator ++
Cicatrizing agent ++

Antibacterial: In a laboratory setting, L. nobilis essential oil along with other essential oils demonstrated strong antibacterial activity against Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium, and Staphylococcus.[4]

Antiviral: Several essential oils including L. nobilis were assessed in an in vitro setting for their antiviral activity. L. nobilis exerted activity against SARS-CoV.[7]

Cytotoxic Activity: Essential oils were tested against some cancer cell lines, including breast, prostate and renal. This preliminary in vitro study showed that L. nobilis and others in the same family, demonstrated cytotoxic activity and inhibited tumor growth.[8] A separate laboratory analysis  demonstrated tumor suppression against leukemia cell lines.[9]

Anti-inflammatory and Analgesic Properties: The essential oil of L. nobilis was examined in animals for potential anti-nociceptive and anti-inflammatory activity. The results demonstrated strong analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, comparable to certain analgesic and NSAIDs.[10]

Anticonvulsant: In Iran, the essential oil of L. nobilis has traditionally been used in seizure disorders. This animal study examined the potential anticonvulsant activity in mice with induced seizures. The essential oil caused sedation, motor impairment and protected against convulsions though researchers noted that the toxicity level may be of concern.[11]

Traditional Use

Mouth infections and inflammations (stomatitis, aphthosis, toothaches) +++
Influenza ++++
Skin and mycotic infections (ulcers, white heads, acne, boils) +++
Rheumatism: arthritis, cramps +++

Wound Healing: Traditional use promotes the oil of L. nobilis in treating wounds. While its wound healing properties were demonstrated in an animal study, those properties were moderate as compared to oils from other plants.[12]

Insect Repellant: The main chemical constituent of L. nobilis essential oil, 1,8 cineole, showed repellency against the bites of the mosquito, Culex pipiens molestus for about two hours.[13]

Contraindications and Precautions

Contact dermatitis can occur in some patients however it is rare.[14]

Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.



[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]

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  1) Western Herb


  1. Lis-Balchan M. Aromatherapy science: a guide for healthcare professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2006.
  2. Ozcan M. Effect of different locations on the chemical composition of essential oils of laurel (Laurus nobilis L.) leaves growing wild in Turkey. J Med Food. 2005;8(3):408-411.
  3. Verdian-rizi M, Hadjiakhoondi A. Essential oil composition of Laurus nobilis L. of different growth stages growing in Iran. Z Naturforsch [C]. Nov-Dec2008;63(11-12):785-788.
  4. Dadalioglu I. Chemical compositions and antibacterial effects of essential oils of Turkish oregano (Origanum minutiflorum), bay laurel (Laurus nobilis), Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas L.), and fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) on common foodborne pathogens. J Agric Food Chem. 29 Dec2004;52(26):8255-8260.
  5. Marzouki H. Essential oil composition and variability of Laurus nobilis L. growing in Tunisia, comparison and chemometric investigation of different plant organs. Nat Prod Res. 2009;23(4):343-354.
  6. Yalçin H. Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis of Laurus nobilis essential oil composition of northern Cyprus. J Med Food. Dec2007;10(4):715-719.
  7. Loizzo MR. Phytochemical analysis and in vitro antiviral activities of the essential oils of seven Lebanon species. Chem Biodivers. Mar2008;5(3):461-470.
  8. Loizzo MR. Cytotoxic activity of essential oils from labiatae and lauraceae families against in vitro human tumor models. Anticancer Res. 2007;27(5A):3293-3299.
  9. Moteki H. Specific induction of apoptosis by 1,8-cineole in two human leukemia cell lines, but not a in human stomach cancer cell line. Oncol Rep. 2002;9(4):757-760.
  10. Sayyah M. Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity of the leaf essential oil of Laurus nobilis Linn. Phytother Res. Aug2003;17(7):733-736.
  11. Sayyah M. Anticonvulsant activity of the leaf essential oil of Laurus nobilis against pentylenetetrazole- and maximal electroshock-induced seizures. Phytomedicine. Apr2002;9(3):212-216.
  12. Khalil EA. Evaluation of the wound healing effect of some Jordanian traditional medicinal plants formulated in Pluronic F127 using mice (Mus musculus). J Ethnopharmacol. 3 Jan2007;109(1):104-112.
  13. Traboulsi AF. Repellency and toxicity of aromatic plant extracts against the mosquito Culex pipiens molestus (Diptera: Culicidae). Pest Manag Sci. Jun2005;61(6):597-604.
  14. Adişen E. Allergic contact dermatitis from Laurus nobilis oil induced by massage. Contact Dermatitis. Jun2007;56(6):360-361.

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