Bay Leaf Essential (West Indian)
BOTANICAL / INCI NAME
Pimenta Racemosa Leaf/Fruit Oil
Steam distillation of the fruit/leaves.
SUGGESTED USE & BENEFITS
This essential oil is obtained from the fruits of the plant, Pimenta Racemosa, Myrtaceae, which is native to the West Indies.
West Indian bay oil is distinct from bay laurel essential oil (Laurus nobilis). The two have some qualities in common however, in that both oils contain the potent compound eugenol – the compound that gives the oils their antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant properties.
With its spicy and ‘masculine’ aroma, West Indian bay oil is a popular ingredient in perfume and personal care products for men, such as aftershave, soap, shower gels and shampoo.
As an astringent, the oil triggers contractions in muscles and tissues. It helps prevent hair loss, as it strengthens the hold on hair roots and is reputed to clear dandruff or flaky scalp (a couple of drops can be added to shampoo or conditioner). For fortifying gums, add a drop to toothpaste formulas. Drops can be added to formulas for toner to firm the skin, and its antiseptic properties will help prevent razor burns and bumps. The astringent properties can also aid in the treatment of haemorrhage, supporting contraction of blood vessels.
The chemical constituents eugenol, chavicol (estragole), and myrcene give the oil analgesic properties making it a useful addition in aromatherapy treatments/massages to relieve aching muscles, joint pain and neuralgia. Add drops to bath water as another way to enjoy its relaxing effects.
Added to vaporizers and sprays, bay oil has a well-worn history as an effective insect repellent. Its aroma will also ‘lift’ the atmosphere in a room, with its ability to stimulate mentally and emotionally (create a blend with drops of bergamot oil to maximise its anti-depressant properties – and either add with water to your vaporizer or with carrier oil in appropriate dilution for a massage blend). In steam inhalation, it will help treat respiratory problems, viral infections and relieve the symptoms of colds and flu.
Research has shown bay essential oil to be more effective against MRSA (methicillin-resistant staph aureus) than vancomycin (the main drug for MRSA treatment). Bay oils have also been shown to be particularly effective against Phytophthora cactorum and Cryponectria parasitica.
Benefits and Common Uses
- Sedative (in higher concentration)
- Stimulant (in lower concentration)
Blends well with
Eucalyptus, lavender, geranium, rosemary, thyme, juniper, cedarwood and citrus oils.
Phototoxic: Do not take internally. Always use diluted in carrier oil (up to a maximum of concentration of 3%; or consult a qualified aromatherapist); avoid damaged skin and mucous membranes (due to the powerful component, eugenol). To be avoided by those suffering from kidney disease, liver disease or cancer, and those using anticoagulants.
Occasional skin sensitivity. Do not use during pregnancy. See general guidelines concerning dilution, pregnancy, blood pressure; avoid use for babies and children.