Laurel of genuine

Authors: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer, Prof. Dr. med. Martina Bacharach-Buhles

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Last updated on: 06.02.2023

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Bay leaf; Bay tree; Laurel oil; Laurus nobilis; Laurus nobilis extract (INCI); oleum lauri; Sweet bay

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Evergreen, frost-sensitive tree plant from the Lauraceae family.

Laurus nobilis is the parent plant of Laurum folium the bay leaves. Applications as a spice.

Laurus nobilis is the parent plant of Oleum lauri (expressum), the laurel oil. Applications as hyperemic embrocations (reliable scientific data are not available)

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Mediterranean area, subtropical and tropical countries; extensively cultivated as a crop in Turkey and elsewhere.

Field of application/use
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Laurel oil has a hyperemissive, antiphlogistic and antimicrobial effect and is used for furuncles, abscesses, rheumatic complaints and in veterinary medicine for udder care.

Occasionally, bay laurel is also used as a gastrointestinal remedy, as an antipsoriatic agent and as an aroma additive in herbal packs, soaps and toothpastes.

When taken, the fruits have an appetite-stimulating effect.

Undesirable effects
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Laurel oil contains numerous sesquiterpene lactones, including the allergologically significant dehydrocostus lactone, costunolide, eremanthin and laurenobiolide.

Sensitization potency: Moderate. Sensitization frequency: Occasional. Contact dermatitis was described as early as the beginning of the 20th century. They occurred frequently when laurel oil was still used as a finish for hat and headbands, see under hatband dermatitis.

Erythema exsudativum multiforme-like contact allergies have also been described in isolated cases.

Clinical picture
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The consumption of bay leaves can lead to cheilitis and stomatitis. Cross-reactions have been described in sensitized individuals to composites (e.g. parthenolide from feverfew or alantolactone from elecampane).

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  1. Brás S et al. (2015) Allergic contact dermatitis caused by laurel leaf oil. Contact Dermatitis 72: 417-419
  2. Chmit M et al. (2014) Antibacterial and antibiofilm activities of polysaccharides, essential oil, and fatty oil extracted from Laurus nobilis growing in Lebanon. Asian Pac J Trop Med 7S1: 546-552.
  3. Hausen BM, Vieluf K (1997) Allergy plants, plant allergens. Ecomed Verlag Landsberg/Munich, pp. 172-175.
  4. Sayyah M et al (2003) Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity of the leaf essential oil of Laurus nobilis Linn. Phytother Res 17: 733-736
  5. Uzuncakmak TK et al (2015) Erythema multiforme like allergic contact dermatitis associated with laurel oil: a rare presentation. Dermatol Online J 16: 21