Leaves, essential oil.
Remedies made from the bay laurel are mainly used in the treatment of the disorders affecting the upper digestive tract and to ease all kinds of arthritic aches and pains affecting a person. The remedies made from the bay laurel also has a tonic effect and is good to have a settling effect on the stomach, the bay laurel remedy also stimulates general appetite and aids in the hastening the secretion of digestive juices in people with digestive disorders. The bay laurel leaves are also used as an ingredient in cooking, where they aid in the process of digestion and absorption of food in the stomach. Bay laurel leaves possess many of the same positive effects as seen in the spearmint - botanical name Mentha spicata, and the rosemary - Rosmarinus officinalis - especially in assisting in the breakdown of heavy foods, such as protein rich meat. The onset of menstruation is also promoted by remedies made from the bay laurel. In addition, the essential oil obtained from the bay laurel is mainly employed as a friction rub for topical problems, this rubbing oil is prepared by first diluting the raw oil in carrier oil and it is then massaged on aching muscles and joints for a soothing effect. Bath water can also be infused with a decoction made from the bay laurel leaves to help ease aching limbs and muscles. The soap making industry also utilizes an essential oil obtained from the fruit of the bay laurel in the manufacture of some types of soaps. Bay laurel is a very hardy and strong herb; it is very resistant to all sorts of plant pests and common plant diseases. A bay laurel plant is said to protect even the other plants growing near it from all insect and pest related problems. Bay laurel leaves are strongly aromatic and are used as natural insect repellents, dried bay laurel leaves are often used in silos to protect stored beans, grains from weevils and other grain eating insects. As it possesses both anti-septic properties as well as an aromatic scent, the bay laurel is often used as a strewing herb. The herb is very tolerant to clipping and pruning activities, it can also be grown as a screen or hedge plant in regions with suitable weather for its cultivation outdoors. The wood of the bay laurel is also very sweetly scented and the smell does not wear off quickly even after a long period of time. The wood is employed in marqueterie work, it is also used to make walking sticks and as friction sticks to start fires.
The bay laurel is a native plant of the Mediterranean region. This herb grows best in damp and shady sites in gardens. As it is extensively used in many Mediterranean cuisines, the bay laurel is a very popular garden herb especially in Europe. Leaves from the bay laurel are picked all year round and used in many culinary preparations. The bay laurel can succeed in any kind of soil that is moderately fertile and well watered, though it tends to grow best in soils that retain moisture and are well drained. The bay laurel can also grow without problems in all types of dry soils. The bay laurel prefers exposure to full sunlight but can also grow well in sites with light shade. Bay laurel plants are fairly resistant to high winds; however, the plants suffer if exposed to extreme maritime contact or cold dry winds for long periods of time. Growing bay laurel plants may need protection from the cold during severe winters and the plant is not fully hardy in all areas of temperate countries such as Britain. In a dormant state, bay laurel plants are reliably hardy to temperatures of about -5�c, and can withstand occasional lows of up to -15�c - such low temperatures may lead to the defoliation of the tree but the tree usually recovers and brings forth new leaves late in the spring or by the summer. The plant botanists call the Laurus nobilis angustifolia - Syn 'Salicifolia' - a little hardier and possesses similar aromatic qualities. Many people also cultivate the bay laurel tree as an ornamental plant in gardens; the added bonus is such cultivated yields leaves that can be used to flavor food. The leaves of the bay laurel give off a sweet and aromatic scent when bruised. Bay laurel trees are also strongly resistant to all insect pests and plant diseases - this plant is notably resistant to the honey fungus. The beneficial properties of this plant species has been known since ancient times and many ancient peoples held the tree in high esteem. The ancient Greeks dedicated this plant to Apollo, the god of light, the plant also served as a symbol of peace and victory for the Greeks. The bay laurel was also utilized in making wreaths for ancient emperors, generals and poets. The bay laurel is a dioecious plant and individual plants have a specific sex. If seeds are required, it is necessary to grow both the male and female plants in the garden. The bay laurel can be propagated in three basic methods - by layering, sowing seeds or by taking cuttings from individual plants. The ideal time to sow the seeds of the bay laurel is in the spring. Seeds are ideally sown in moist, but definitely not water saturated compost seed beds. When seeds are sown, the seeds must be placed on the surface of the soil and lightly covered using some dry compost. The container of the seed bed must be placed in the dark, the site must ideally be at a temperature of about 65?F (21?C) for germination to occur. It is difficult to predict a successful germination, which is a rather erratic event and bay laurel seeds can take as long as three months to sprout out. However, the normal time for germination is about three to four weeks from the date on which the seeds are sown. The greatest hindrance to successfully growing the bay laurel from seeds lies in the fact that the seeds can rot before they germinate in the seed bed. The stem cuttings can be done late in the summer and even early in the fall. Propagating this herb from cuttings is rather hard and successful growth using cuttings is not easy to achieve. To get the best cuttings, one must cut ripe shoots in lengths of 9 to 15cm - 4 to 6 inches, using a knife, the cutting must also include part of the main stem - the heel. Once the shoots have been cut to the desired length, they must be trimmed so only three or four leaves stay on the shoot, this cutting can then be planted in a small pot filled with potting compost. Each individual cutting that has been planted must be labeled and placed in a site without direct sunlight - ideally, a cold frame is the best solution. A heated propagating frame may also give a good chance of success, as high humidity in the ambient air is essential for the proper growth of the plant. Once they are planted in a site, cuttings give out roots within the span of a year or a little longer. The process of layering of the germinating plants is carried out as normal for all the seedlings. To correctly layer the growing plant, bend each stem down to the ground then use a penknife and make a small cut in the stem in the spot touching the soil. The cut region of the bent stem can then be covered with some soil and secured in the soil using stones or it can be held in place with wires. The cut region of the stem will give off shoots in six to twelve months if the process has been correctly carried out. Bay laurel plants are ideally layered during the spring season.
Bay laurel leaves have an essential oil that is about 0.8 to 3% of volume of each leaf. The oil chemically consists of mainly 1, 8 cineol at about fifty percent of the total. In addition, compounds such as eugenol, geraniol and terpineol , acetyl eugenol, methyl eugenol and phellandrene, linalool, ?- and ?-pinene are also found in substantial amounts. Leaves also have large amounts of plant mucilage, tannins and resins. The bay laurel also produces fruits and dried fruits also have up to 0.6 to 10% of essential oil by total volume, this content of the oil is dependent on provenance and the condition in which the fruits were stored. The aroma given off by the fruits similar to the leaves is mainly due to the content of a class of compounds called terpenes - such as cineol and terpineol, ?- and ?-pinene, citral. In addition, aromatic compounds such as cinnamic acid and its methyl ester are also reportedly found in the fruits and the leaves of the herb. The fruits of the bay laurel also contain green colored semi-solid oil that melts at approximately 30�C. This green oil once extracted is found to consist of several percent in the essential oil - the main components are two forms of compounds called sesquiterpenoids, the compound costunol and the compound dehydrocostuslacton. However, the green semi-solid oil is found to primarily consist of fatty oils, such as the triglycerides of lauric acid - also called dodecanoic acid, the compound myristic acid - also called tetradecanoic acid and some amount of the compound elaic acid. Thus, it can be seen that the essential oil of the bay laurel is made up of many different compounds and different plant resins and other substances.