A low (8-10 m tall) evergreen dioecious tree or shrub of the laurel family. It has a thick pyramidal crown; the bark is brown, smooth. The alternate leaves are simple, short-petioled, leathery, lanceolate, entire, pointed. The flowers are unisexual, small, white, in 4-6-flowered umbellate inflorescences, placed 1-3 in the axils of the leaves; perianth four-leaved. The fruit is a blue-black, one-seeded drupe. Blooms in April. Fruits ripen in October – November.
Distribution . Noble laurel is bred in the Southern Crimea as an essential oil, spicy and decorative plant.
Procurement and storage . Leaves (Folia Lauri) and ripe fruits (Fructus Lauri) are used for medicinal purposes. The leaves are collected in the winter (from mid-November to mid-February) by cutting thin leafy twigs with knives or secateurs, and are dried under shelter in the open air or in well-ventilated rooms. Bay leaves should be stored in tightly closed jars, because its smell often causes headaches. The fruits are collected in October – November, dried in the sun and dried at a temperature not higher than 40°. Laurel fruits were included in the first State Pharmacopoeia of the USSR.
Chemical composition . The leaves of the plant contain essential oil (0.5-4.5%), catechins (1.62-2.54%), flavonoids (rutin, kaempferol, quercetin), anthocyanins, sesquiterpene lactones. The composition of the essential oil includes camphene, carvone, limonene, myrcene, a-pinene, B-pinene, sabinene, a-phellandrene, B-phellandrene, terpinolene, terpinylformate, eugenol, methyleugenol, acetyleugenol, linalool, p-cymol, 1.8 -cineole, a-terpineol, terpinenol. Laurel fruits contain essential (3.9-4.1%) and fatty (26.3-44%) oil, tannins and other compounds. The essential oil of the fruit contains cineole, α-pinene, β-pinene citral, cinnamic acid and its esters, free alcohols, phenols, sesquiterpenes, etc.
Pharmacological properties and use. Galena products from plant leaves are taken internally for diabetes (hypoglycemic properties), psoriasis and malaria. An infusion of dry leaves on oil is rubbed on painful places with arthritis, myositis and neuralgia. The leaves are also used as a seasoning for dishes. Previously, a fatty oil (Oleum Lauri) was extracted from the fruits of the laurel tree, which was used as a laxative for rheumatism, paralysis and colds, and for the treatment of scabies. At home, an ointment is made from laurel leaves and juniper needles, which is used as a sedative and pain reliever for rheumatic and cold pains and spasms. In the green areas of Crimea, laurel performs aesthetic, sanitary and hygienic functions, enriches the air with biologically active substances capable of disinfecting the air from harmful microorganisms. Experimental observations have established that the plant’s volatile phytoncides suppress the development of mycobacteria, the causative agents of tuberculosis. The combination of decorative qualities with the antimicrobial activity of volatile secretions makes the noble laurel an integral part of the greenery of the Crimean resort area.
Medicinal forms and applications.
Internally – infusion of leaves (10 leaves are poured with three glasses of boiling water, infused for 2-3 hours) half a glass 3 times a day for diabetes;
20 dry leaves are poured with two glasses of boiling water, boiled for 10 minutes, filtered and drunk during the day for 3 times in case of psoriasis (course of treatment — 5-7 days).
Externally – infusion of leaves on sunflower oil (30 g of raw material per 200 g of oil, infused for 10 days) and ointment (powder from the leaves and needles of common juniper is mixed with butter in a ratio of 6:1:12 and rubbed) for rubbing.