Botanical name Laurus nobilis L.
Botanical synonym Bay leaf, bay laurel, sweet bay
Processing Method Steam Distillation
Color/Consistency This can be from a pale yellow green to orange brown liquid with a thin consistency.
Aromatic Summary / Note / Strength of Aroma Bay has a spicy bay leaf scent with a strong top note.
Blend with Bergamot, Virginian, Cedarwood, Eucalyptus,Fenenl, Ginger, Orange, Patchouli, Rosemary, Ylang-Ylang
The health benefits of Bay Essential Oil can be attributed to its properties as an antiseptic, antibiotic, anti-neuralgic, anti-spasmodic, analgesic, aperitif, astringent, cholagogue, emenagogue, febrifuge, insecticide, sedative, stomachic, sudorific, and tonic substance.
The Bay tree is native to the Caribbean Islands from where it is believed to have spread to other parts of the world. Bay held an important place in Ancient Rome and Greece as well, in their religion, culture, and in their medicines.
This oil is extracted by steam distillation of fresh leaves of the Bay tree, whose scientific name is Laurus Nobilis. The main constituents of Bay Essential Oil are alpha pinene, alpha terpineol, beta pinene, chavicol, geranyl acetate, eugenol, limonene, linalool, methyl chavicol, myrcene, and neral.
However, since we are here to discuss the medicinal importance of this essential oil, we shall now see what treasures it holds for our health.
This is an evergreen tree which can grow up to 20 meters high with dark green, glossy leaves and black berries. Bay was very popular with the Romans, who thought it was a symbol of wisdom, peace and protection. The Latin laudis means 'to praise', which is why the victors at the Olympic Games were presented with a laurel wreath made of bay leaves.
Bay is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant in regions with Mediterranean oroceanic climates, and as a house plant or greenhouse plant in colder regions. It is used in topiary to create single erect stems with ball-shaped, box-shaped or twisted crowns; also for low hedges. Together with a gold form, L. nobilis 'Aurea'.
Due to the presence of high concentration of eugenol, this oil can cause irritations in the skin and mucus membrane. It should be avoided during pregnancy. May cause skin irritation in some individuals; a skin test is recommended prior to use. Contact with eyes should be avoided.
a-Terpinyl acetate 4.5–7.0%
Linalyl acetate 0.4–2.7%
Bornyl acetate 0.4–2.3%
Terpinen -4-ol 2.1–2.2%
Hazards Potentially carcinogenic, based on methyleugenol content; essential oils high in 1,8-cineole can cause CNS and breathing problems in young children; skin sensitization (low risk); mucous membrane irritation (low risk).
Cautions (dermal) Hypersensitive, diseased or damaged skin, children under 2 years of age. Some laurel leaf oils may cause skin sensitization.
Maximum adult daily oral dose 18 mg
Maximum dermal use level
Tisserand & Young 0.5%
Our safety advice We recommend a dermal maximum of 0.5% and an oral maximum of 18 mg, based on 3.8% methyleugenol content with dermal and oral limits of 0.02% and 0.01 mg/kg .
Regulatory guidelines IFRA recommends that the maximum concentration of methyleugenol for leave-on products such as body lotion should be 0.0004%. The equivalent SCCNFP maximum is 0.0002%.
Adverse skin reactions In a 48 hour occlusive patch test on 50 Italian volunteers, undiluted Bay leaf oil produced no adverse reactions. Similarly tested at 1%, it produced no reactions in 380 eczema patients. Undiluted Bay leaf oil was moderately irritating to rabbits, but was not irritatingto mice or pigs. Tested at 2% on 25 volunteers it was not irritating, nor was it irritating when re-tested at 10%. A second sample of Bay leaf oil was not irritating when tested at 10% on two separate panels of volunteers. Bay leaf oil was non-phototoxic in hairless mice and swine. Bay leaf absolute was phototoxic at 10% or over, but not at 2%.
Acute toxicity Bay leaf oil acute oral LD50 in rats 3.95 g/kg; acute dermal LD50 in rabbits >5 g/kg. 1,8-Cineole has been reported to cause serious poisoning in young children when accidentally instilled into the nose.
Antioxidant/pro-oxidant activity A Bay leaf oil showed moderate antioxidant activity in scavenging DPPH radicals and inhibiting lipid peroxidation.
Carcinogenic/anticarcinogenic potential Bay leaf oil containing 2.5% methyleugenol was active against human melanoma, renal cell adenocarcinoma, and human chronic myelogenous leukemia cell lines in vitro.Methyleugenol is a rodent carcinogen if exposure is sufficiently high.
Comments Bay leaf contain various sesquiterpene lactones, some of them known skin sensitizers. These include costunolide and deacetyl laurenobiolide; dehydrocostuslactone was indentified in a Bay leaf concrete. It is not clear from the literature whether or not Bay leaf oil is likely to cause sensitization problems. This may be because some Bay leaf oils contain sensitizing agents and others do not. Some fragrance houses internally restrict the use of Bay leaf oil because of customer sensitization issues. Based on literature published in German, Bay leaf oil has been classified as category A, a significant contact allergen.