Properties: antibacterial, antiseptic, antifungal
Main active constituents: geraniol, linalool, terpeneol (alcohols), 1,8-cineole (ketone), eugenol (phenol), phellandrene, pinene (terpenes)
History and Tradition:
In herbal history this was the plant in which the victor’s crown of laurels was made - laurus ‘praise’, nobilis ‘noble’ and dedicated to Apollo, Greek god of music, light and healing. As such, many superstitions arose around the powers of bay. Apart from its symbolic and mythological significance, bay has been used for centuries for its medicinal, antiseptic properties. Whether to soothe coughs or calm the restless spirit; bay leaves were strewn on the floors of monasteries and hospitals and burned in a room once sickness had passed to remove traces of infectious microbes from the air. Bay was introduced to Britain from the Mediterranean in the 17th century together with its reputation ‘Neither witch nor devil, thunder nor lightning, will hurt a man in the place where a bay-tree is.’ Nicolas Culpeper, botanist 1616-1654.
Research and Studies:
Laurus nobilis was found to exhibit strong antibacterial activity against Salmonella, E-Coli, Listeria and Staphylococcus (Dadalioglu, 2004). In a 2006 laboratory study essential oils of Laurus nobilis was found to have antifungal effects (Soylu, 2006).