Essential Oil Profile: Bay

by Amelia E. Hoard, RN


Common Name: Bay

Synonyms: laurel, bay sweet, true bay, Mediterranean bay, and West Indian bay

Latin Binomial: Laurus nobilis

Family: Lauraceae

Production Method: steam distillation of leaves and branchlets

Countries of Origin: Southwest Asia, Mediterranean region, West India

Typical Constituents: Eugenol (44.4-56.2%), b-Myrcene (6.4-25.0%), Chavicol (9.3-21.6%), Linalool (1.7-6.0%), [+]-Limonene (0.8-3.9%), 1-Octen-3-ol (0.9-2.0%), 1,8-cineole (0.2-1.4%), Methyleugenol (0-1.4%), [E]-b-Ocimene (0-1.4%), Terpinen-4-ol (0.3-1.2%), 3-Octanone (0.8-1.1%), d-Cadinene (0.6-1.0%), 3-Octanol (0.6-1.0%), r-Cymene (0.1-1.0%), Estragole (tr-0.1%)

Description of Oil: Pale yellow to pale olive green or almost colorless, strong but sweet and spicy odor. A ;ittle like cinnamon.

Description of Plant: An evergreen tree 20-30 m high; usually pruned to below 3 m. The bark on mature trees is greyish and on younger stems is smooth and shiny, often with a reddish tint.

History, Folklore and Myth: Popular in Rome and ancient Egypt as a symbol of wisdom, protection and peace. 'Laudis' means 'to praise', hence the presentation of laurel wreaths to victors at the Olympic games. Church floors in Greece are still strewn with Bay leaves, perhaps due to their antiseptic quality.

Properties and Uses: Analgesic, Antiseptic, Antispasmodic, Astringent, Diuretic, Insecticide, Stimulant, and Tonic among others.

Precautions and Contraindications: Generally safe, longer term (3 weeks or more) skin application may result in sensitization or irritation.



Battaglia, Salvatore. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. Virginia, Queensland, Australia: The Perfect Potion. 1995.

Tisserand, Robert, and Tony Balacs. Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone. 1995.

Sellar, Wanda. The Directory of Essential Oils. London: Random House. 2005

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