May 15, 2011 1 Comment
Today my bay tree had a major haircut. While separating the leaves from its severed branches (the larger branches are shredded and used as a mulch on my garden to reduce outbreaks of dandelions and alkanet! ), I got to thinking about how healthy the tree was in its younger days and how, over the last few years, signs of infestation and disease have begun to manifest. Although it has grown enormously, reaching upwards of 18 feet in height, its base is being invaded by woolly aphids, as well as small red and yellow insects, mould and leaf spot. Was it, perhaps, so busy reaching for the stars that it lost touch with its own foundations? Am I perhaps guilty of the same behaviour? My thoughts were thus occupied as I therapeutically sifted and sorted.
When studying for my Diploma in Aromatherapy & Essential Oil Science with Neal’s Yard Remedies, we were encouraged to learn the Latin botanical names of the essential oils we studied as these become important where there are chemotypes or the oil is extracted from different parts of a plant, resulting in differing chemical structures which may influence safety cautions or useful properties/actions.
For example, confusion exists between Laurus nobilis and Pimenta racemosa, both known as Bay Leaf even though they are from completely different plant families! Pimenta racemosa is from the West Indian Bay Tree, a member of the Myrtaceae family, whose principal chemical constituents are Eugenol, Myrcene and Methyl eugenol. Laurus nobilis also known as Laurel, Bay Laurenl, Laurel Leaf, Roman Laurel, True Bay, Bay Leaf or Sweet Bay is a member of the Lauraceae family, whose principal chemical constituents are 1.8 cineole (25 – 55%), Sabinene (10%) alpha and beta pinene, limonene, phellandrene, Linalool (15%), a-terpineol, geraniol, terpinen-4-ol, a-terpinyl acetate (< 10%), methyl eugenol, eugenol and camphor. According to Robert Tisserand, some laurel leaf oils are thought to contain small amounts of costunolide.
The primary actions of Laurus nobilis in aromatherapy are antibacterial, anticatarrhal, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, digestive, expectorant, mucolytic and neurotonic. In addition, it has some safety cautions due to the methyl eugenol and eugenol content. This oil should be avoided in pregnancy, with children, and with hypersensitive, diseased or damaged skin. I do not use more than 1 drop in 15ml.
Use with respect and never take essential oils internally.
A blend for your vapouriser: Bay Laurel and cardamom
Essential Oil Safety, Robert Tisserand, Tony Balacs
- The Magic of Bay Laurel (witchofstitches.wordpress.com)