The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

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Laurel

Scientific Names

Laurel

  • Laurus nobilis L.
  • Lauraceae
  • Laurel family

Common Names

  • Bay
  • Bay laurel
  • Bay leaf
  • Bay tree
  • Grecian laurel
  • Indian bay
  • Nobel laurel
  • Roman laurel
  • Sweet bay
  • True laurel

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Parts Usually Used

Leaves, berries, bark
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Laurel is an evergreen bush or tree grows up to 3 feet tall (up to 50 feet if left to itself in tropical climates), the leaves are leathery, lanceolate, and pointed at both ends. Whitish flowers grow in axillary clusters during April and May, developing later into black, egg-shaped berries. Seeds are about the size of a pea and have a dark brown color. The plant is pungent and aromatic.

Other varieties: Indian Bay, also called California Bay is native to California and was formerly used by the Native Americans for flavoring food as well as for medicine. Indian Bay leaves have a flavor similar to common Bay, except that its leaves are decidedly more fragrant and have a peppery tang. Another variety of Bay, found growing in the Monterrey regions of Mexico, is better known as Boteka. This variety has a cool, mild fragrance. Boteka is also used to make a very pleasant tea.
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Where Found

Grows both wild and cultivated around the Mediterranean Sea.
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Medicinal Properties

Astringent, aromatic, carminative, digestive, emetic, emmenagogue, stomachic, stimulant
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Biochemical Information

Essential oil with cineol and pinene, fatty oil with lauric acid, oleic acid, palmitic and linoleic acids
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Legends, Myths and Stories

Bay leaf or laurel leaf is aromatic and slightly bitter in flavor. Well known for its uses in seasoning of meats, stuffings, sauces, marinades, etc. Fresh or dried, use bay leaf sparingly, it is strong. One leaf or less for 6-8 servings.

According to Greek and Roman myth, the nymph Daphne was changed at her own wish into a laurel tree by her father, the river god Peneus, to keep her from being attacked by the love-smitten god Apollo. Eros (Cupid) had played a trick on the self-righteous Apollo by shooting arrows with opposite effects into him and Daphne: Apollo’s arrow stimulated love for Daphne, but hers caused her to hate Apollo. Apollo, amazed by Daphne’s transformation, made the tree sacred to himself and declared that he would wear a crown of its leaves, as would triumphant men of war. Thus associated with fame and achievement, the laurel wreath was conferred also on poets, athletes, statesmen, and other notables.

The Romans believed that a person standing under a laurel tree would be shielded from infection by the plague and also from lightning. In the Middle Ages, laurel would shield you from lightning and from witches, too.
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Uses

Bay oil, pressed from the berries and leaves, can be made into salves and liniment for rheumatism, palsy, convulsions, cramps, aches and pains, earache, tremblings, numbness, bruises, sprains, and skin problems, itch, scabs, eczema, bruises, sunburn. The fruit and leaves stimulate the digestive system. A decoction of fruit or leaves, made into a paste with honey or syrup, can be applied to the chest for colds and other chest problems. Berries are used to remove obstructions, ague (violent fever often associated with malaria), gas, colic, indigestion, to promote abortion, for delayed menses, helpful in expelling afterbirth and during childbirth, treats poisonous insect bites, snake bites, wasp stings, smallpox, typhoid fever, measles, diphtheria, chronic coughs, asthma, worms, increases flow of urine, gargle for sore throats, tonsillitis, lung problems. The bark is used for stones in the kidneys, bladder problems, and various liver problems. Berries are also useful as a cough syrup.
The leaves are used to drive away fleas, lice, moths, and bugs in flour and cereals.
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Formulas or Dosages

Infusion: 1 level tsp. granulated bark from the roots in 1 cup boiling water. Steep for 1/2 hour and drink from 1 to 3 cups per day.

Tincture: apply externally for bruises and injuries, and internally use only 5-20 drops.
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How Sold

Oil of bay

Dried bay leaves in the spice section of the supermarket

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Warning

Do not use this herb during pregnancy; it may cause miscarriage.
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Bibliography

Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It! Country Home Book of Herbs, Meredith Books, Editorial Dept. RW240, 1716 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309-3023, copyright 1994

Buy It! Culpeper’s Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Herbal Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, Cornell Plantations, Matthaei Botanical Gardens of the University of Michigan, University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley., Pantheon Books, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 1994, first edition

Buy It! Indian Uses of Native Plants, by Edith Van Allen Murphey, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1958, print 1990

Buy It! Old Ways Rediscovered, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, published from 1954, print 1988

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

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