Laurus nobilis L.

Last updated: 08 Sept 2016

Scientific Name

Laurus nobilis L.


No documentation.

Vernacular Name

English Bay, bay laurel, bay tree, Grecian laurel, laurel, Roman laurel, sweet bay, sweet bay tree, true laurel [1]
China Yue gui, yue gui zi [1]
India Hab-ul-ghar, hub-ul-ghar [1]
Japan Gekkei-ju [1]
Arabic Ghar, rand [1].

Geographical Distributions

Laurus nobilis is originate from the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor, where natural stands still provide a considerable part of the laurel leaf production. A chemically distinct form is native to China. L. nobilis is grown and occasionally naturalized throughout the drier tropics, subtropics and warm temperate areas. It is also cultivated as a garden and pot plant worldwide. [2]

Botanical Description

L. nobilis is an aromatic plant that is belongs to Lauraceae family. It is usually dioecious, evergreen tree or shrub that is 2-15 m tall, and has a blackish-brown bark. [2]

The branchlets are terete, young ones dark brown, nearly glabrous or with soft hairs. [2]

The leaves are alternate; petiole 0.5-1.5 cm long, violet-red when fresh, glabrous or with sparse soft hairs; blade oblong-elliptical to oblong-lanceolate, 3-15 cm x 2-5 cm, coriaceous, entire, base cuneate, margins somewhat undulate, apex acute to acuminate or obtuse, dark green above, pale green beneath, glabrous on both sides but glandular-punctate, with 10-12 pairs of lateral veins prominent on both sides. [2]

The inflorescence an axillary, 4-5-flowered umbel, solitary or mostly 2-5 arranged in a fascicle or short raceme; peduncle 2-12 mm long, glabrous or with soft hairs; bracts 4, rounded, inner ones 0.7-1 cm long, outer ones smaller, coriaceous, glabrous outside, with silky hairs inside; pedicel 2-5 mm long, with soft hairs; tepals 4, ovate-oblong to rounded, 4.5-6 mm long, obtuse, with soft hairs on both sides. [2]

The flowers are yellowish green; male flower with 8-12 fertile stamens, outer whorl is glandular, second and third whorls with 2 sessile, reniform glands at middle of filaments, anthers ellipsoidal, 2-celled, introrse, pistillode present; female flower with 4 staminodes bearing an appendage at apex of connective, ovary 1-celled, style short, stigma somewhat enlarged. [2]

The fruit is a globular to ellipsoidal drupe, 1-2 cm long, dark violet to glossy black at maturity. [2]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

Extract of L. nobilis has been reported to contain sesquiterpene lactones (e.g. 5a,9-dimethyl-3-methylene-3,3a,4,5,5a,6,7,8-octahydro-1-oxacyclopenta[c]azulen-2-one and 3β-chlorodehydrocostuslactone). [3]

Essential oil of L. nobilis has been reported to contain 1,8-cineole, α-terpinyl acetate, sabinene, alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, terpinene-4-ol, and alpha-terpineol; trans-sabinene hydrate, methyl eugenol, and eugenol. [4][5][6]

L. nobilis stem, leaves, buds, and flower extracts has been reported to contain 1,8-cineole, alpha-terpinyl acetate, methy eugenol, eugenol, and linolool. [7]

Plant Part Used

Leaves [2]

Traditional Use

Essential oil of L. nobilis has been traditionally used to treat neuritis, depression, anxiety, fear, psychosis, bringing awareness, courage, confidence; sinus infection, headaches, pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma; muscular aches, pains, sprains, arthritis, rheumatism, arthrosis, sclerosis, atherosclerosis, angina, hypertension; colds, flu, tocilitis, dental infection, diarrhoea; tonic to the kidneys and reproductive systems; scars, acne, pimples, boils, scabies; a tonic to the hair and scalp stimulating hair growth and aiding dandruff; antibacterial, and antifungal. [8]

The essential oil of L. nobilis is found in various foods, candies and beverages. It is also found in some cosmetic products, but with the camphorous scent, it is more often found in products for men. [8]

L. nobilis leaves and berries are used as astringents, stimulants and stomachics. The root-bark is used as a remedy in dropsies and disorders of the urinary tract; the leaves and fruit are applied locally to insect bites and stings, scalp eruptions, and in leucorrhoea when accompanied by lax vaginal walls. [8]

Preclinical Data


Antibacterial activity

In a laboratory setting, L. nobilis essential oil along with other essential oils demonstrated strong antibacterial activity against Escherichia coliSalmonella typhimurium, and Staphylococcus. [9]

L. nobilis leaf has demonstrated antibacterial activity, in two different studies. Both found that L. nobilis leaf had active ingredient namely kaempferol that are potent against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). [10][11]

Antiviral activity

Several essential oils including L. nobilis were assessed in an in vitro setting for their antiviral activity. L. nobilis exerted activity against SARS-CoV. [12]

Insect repellent activity

The main chemical constituent of L. nobilis essential oil, 1,8 cineole, showed repellency against the bites of the mosquito, Culex pipiens molestus for about two hours. [13]

Antioxidant activity

Laboratory studies report that extracts of L. nobilis leaf have antioxidant activity. [14] Two different studies have been demonstrated that the methanolic extract of L. nobilis leaf and bark has inhibited nitric oxide formation and decrease lipid peroxide formation, respectively. [15][16]

Cytotoxic activity

Essential oils were tested against some cancer cell lines, including breast, prostate and renal. This preliminary in vitro study showed that L. nobilis and others in the same family demonstrated cytotoxic activity and inhibited tumor growth. [17] A separate laboratory analysis also demonstrated that hot water soluble-sesquiterpene and 1,8-cineole extract from L. nobilis are strongly inhibited against leukemia cell lines. [18][19]

Anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity

The essential oil of L. nobilis was examined in animals for potential antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory activity. The results demonstrated strong analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, comparable to certain analgesic and NSAIDs. [20]

Anticonvulsant activity

The essential oil of L. nobilis has been demonstrated a potential anticonvulsant activity in mice with induced seizures. The essential oil caused sedation, motor impairment and protected against convulsions though researchers noted that the toxicity level may be of concern. [21]

Wound healing activity

Aqueous extract of L. nobilis and other plant species have been demonstrated to exhibit wound healing activity in animal study. L. nobilis extract showed a moderate effect in treating wounds as compared to other plants. [22]


Acute toxicity

The acute toxicities of costunolide and zaluzalin in a single oral administration were found to be lower than that of alpha-methylene-gamma-butyrolactone of L. nobilis. [23]

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

A small study consisting of 40 patients with type 2 diabetes found that L. nobilis leaf administration (1-3gm daily, dried leaf) improved symptoms associated with diabetes including lowering LDL cholesterol (32-40%), triglycerides (25-34%) and total cholesterol (20-24%) levels while improving HDL (20-29%) and reducing serum glucose levels (from 21-26% after 30 days). The authors concluded that L. nobilis leaf consumption may decrease the risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases and suggests that L. nobilis leaves may be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes. [24]


No documentation.

Side effects

The essential oil of L. nobilis leaf has reported to exhibit anticonvulsant activity. However, the use of this herb must be under the supervision of a doctor for those who have a seizure disorder. [21]

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women. [8]

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

Components in L. nobilis may decrease platelet aggregation, so only use under the supervision of a doctor if a bleeding disorder exists. [25]

Interaction & Depletion

Interaction with drug

No documentation.

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.


It is contra-indicated during pregnancy, parturition and lactation. [8]

Contact dermatitis that cause by L. nobilis oil also can occur in some patients however it is rare. [26]

Case Report

A case of allergic contact dermatitis after a massage with a mixture of olive oil and L. nobilis has been reported. Patch testing showed (+++) reactions to L. nobilis oil and (++) to the mixture of olive oil and L. nobilis oil. [26]


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume III E-L. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 725.
  2. Ipor IB, Oyen LPA. Laurus nobilis L. In: de Guzman CC, Siemonsma JS, editors. Plant resources of South-East Asia No. 13: Spices. Leiden, The Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 1999; p. 134-137.
  3. Dall’Acqua S, Viola G, Giorgetti M, Loi MC, Innocenti G. Two new sesquiterpene lactones from the leaves of Laurus nobilis. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2006;54(8):1187-1189.
  4. Ozcan M, Chalchat JC. Effect of different locations on the chemical composition of essential oils of laurel (Laurus nobilis L.) leaves growing wild in Turkey. J Med Food. 2005;8(3):408-411.
  5. Yalcin H, Anik M, Sanda MA, Cakir A. Gas chromatographylmass spectrometry analysis of Laurus nobilis essential oil composition of northern Cyprus. J Med Food. 2007;10(4):715-719.
  6. Verdian-rizi M, Hadjiakhoondi A. Essential oil composition of Laurus nobilis L. of different growth stages growing in Iran. Z Naturforsch C. 2008;63(11-12):785-788.
  7. Marzouki H, Piras A, Salah KB, et al. Essential oil composition and variability of Laurus nobilis L. growing in Tunisia, comparison and chemometric investigation of different plant organs. Nat Prod Res. 2009;23(4):343-354.
  8. Lis-Balchan M. Aromatherapy science: A guide for healthcare professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press, 2006; p. 120-122.
  9. Dadalioglu I, Evrendilek GA. Chemical composition and antibacterial effects of essential oils of Turkish oregano (Origanum minutiflorum), bay laurel (Laurus nobilis), Sapnish lavender (Lavandula stoechas L.), and fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) on common foodborne pathogens. J Agric Food Chem. 2004;52(26):8255-8260.
  10. Liu MH, Otsuka N, Noyori K, et al. Synergistic effect of kaempferol glycosides purified from Laurus nobilis and fluoroquinolones on methicilin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Biol Pharm Bull. 2009;32(3):489-492.
  11. Otsuka N, Liu MH, Shiota S, et al. Anti-methicilin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) compounds isolated from Laurus nobilis. Biol Pharm Bull. 2008;31(9):1794-1797.
  12. Loizzo MR, Saab AM, Tundis R, et al. Phytochemical analysis and in vitro activities of the essential oils of seven Lebanon species. Chem Biodivers. 2008;5(3):461-470.
  13. Traboulsi AF, El-Haj S, Tueni M, Taoubi K, Nader NA, Mrad A. Repellency and toxicity of aromatic plant extracts against the mosquito Culex pipiens molestus (Diptera: Culicidae). Pest Manag Sci. 2005;61(6):597-604.
  14. Dall’Acqua S, Cervellati R, Speroni E, et al. Phytochemical composition and antioxidant activity of Laurus nobilis L. leaf infusion. J Med Food. 2009;12(4):869-876.
  15. De Marino S, Borbone N, Zollo F, Ianaro A, Di Meglio P, Iorizzi M. New sesquiterpene lactones from Laurus nobilis leaves as inhibitors of nitric oxide production. Planta Med. 2005;71(8):706-710.
  16. Simić M, Kundaković T, Kovačević N. Preliminary assay on the antioxidative activity of Laurus nobilis extracts. Fitoterapia. 2003;74(6):613-616.
  17. Loizzo MR, Tundis R, Menichini F, Saab AM, Statti GA, Menichini F. Cytotoxic activity of essential oils from Labiatae and Lauraceae families against in vitro human tumor models. Anticancer Res. 2007;27(5A):3292-3299.
  18. Moteki H, Hibasami H, Yamada Y, Katsuzaki H, Imai K, Komiya T. Specific induction of apoptosis by 1,8-cineole in two human leukemia cell lines, but not a in human stomach cancer cell lines. Oncol Rep. 2002;9(4):757-760.
  19. Komiya T, Yamada Y, Moteki H, Katsuzaki H, Imai K, Hibasami H. Hot water soluble sesquiterpenes [anhydroperoxy-costunolide and 3-oxooeudesma-1,4(15), 11(13)triene-12,6 alpha-olide] isolated from laurel (Laurus nobilis L.) induce cell deadth and morphological change indicative of apoptotic chromatin condensation in leukemia cells. Oncol Rep. 2004;11(1):85-88.
  20. Sayyah M, Saroukhani G, Peirovi A, Kamalinejad M. Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity of the leaf essential oil of Laurus nobilis Linn. Phytother Res. 2003;17(7):733-736.
  21. Sayyah M, Valizadeh J, Kamalinejad M. Anticonvulsant activity of the leaf essential oil of Laurus nobilis against pentylenetetrazole- and maximal electroshock-induced seizures. Phytomedicine. 2002;9(3):212-216.
  22. Khalil EA, Afifi FU, Al-Hussaini M. Evaluation of the wound healing effect of some Jordanian traditional medicinal plants formulated in Pluronic F127 using mice (Mus musculus). J Ethnopharmacol. 2007;109(1):104-112.
  23. Yoshikawa M, Shimoda H, Uemura T, Morikawa T, Kawahara Y, Matsuda H. Alcohol absorption inhibitors from bay leaf (Laurus nobilis): structure-requirements of sesquiterpenes for the activity. Bioorg Med Chem. 2000;8(8):2071-2077.
  24. Khan A, Zaman G, Anderson RA. Bay leaves improve glucose and lipid profile of people with type 2 diabetes. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2009;44(1):52-56.
  25. Ben Amor N, Bouaziz A, Romera-Castillo C, et al. Characterization of the intracellular mechanisms involved in the antiaggregant properties of cinnamtannin B-1 from bay wood in human platelets. J Med Chem. 2007;50(16):3937-3944.
  26. Adisen E, Onder M. Allergic contact dermatitis from Laurus nobilis oil induced by massage. Contact Dermatitis. 2007;56(6):360-361.