Pharmacy name: laurel fruits – Lauri fructus (formerly: Fructus Lauri), bay oil – Lauri oleum (formerly: Oleum Lauri), bay leaf – Lauri folium (formerly: Folia Lauri).
Botanical description. The birthplace of this evergreen is Asia Minor; however, now it grows both in cultivation and wild throughout the Mediterranean, in the subtropics of Russia, in Central and South America. This slender shrub or tree can live up to 100 years. At the end of April, the noble laurel blooms with whitish flowers, forming bushes of false umbrellas or short panicles. After flowering, egg-shaped berries are formed, which by the time of full ripening turn black.
Collection and preparation. Leaves especially used as a condiment are picked young but still fully developed and dried. The fruits are harvested in a state of full ripeness. To be used as a condiment, they must be dried quickly but gently. Fresh fruits are used to obtain fatty laurel oil, which is mainly used in medicine. Oil is obtained by hot pressing or distillation with water. It is a green granular mass having the consistency of an ointment. Laurel oil is very fragrant.
active ingredients. Essential oil and bitterness are found in the leaves. In fruits, in addition to essential oil, there is another 30% fatty oil, starch and sugar. Pressed (laurel) oil contains essential oil and glycerides of lauric, palmitic, oleic and linolic acids, as well as myricyl alcohol.
Healing action and application.The leaves and fruits are used as a condiment. Laurel oil serves exclusively as an external medicine. It cannot be used inside. Ointment-like consistency, the ability to slightly increase blood circulation, antiseptic properties determine its external use. It is used for abscesses and tumors (in the later case – for massage), for skin rashes of various origins, for muscle pain, for sprains and dislocations. More often, bay oil is used in veterinary medicine. The so-called udder ointment, used for hardening and inflammation of the mammary glands in cows, is pure laurel oil. With it, hardened and inflamed areas are easily massaged. With dislocations and sprains, rubbing with laurel oil quickly leads to an improvement in the condition of animals.
Use as a condiment.Our grandmothers often used and continue to use bay leaves when preparing sauces for roasts, stews, vegetable soups, fish marinades, when pickling white and red cabbage, canning cucumbers, pumpkins and beets. The bay leaf imparts a flavor that is almost always appropriate, it does not often spoil the food. It would be nice if the current generation of housewives used bay leaves more, because this aromatic bitterness promotes digestion. You can safely add 1 leaf to a large portion of meat broth, boil a little and take it out. I am sure that you will like the taste of the broth, in addition, with this spice, your appetite will be better. After the first experience, you will put bay leaves (1-2 leaves) in all of the above dishes – this will give them a special taste and appeal. Try bay leaf with dried fruit and when cooking game.
Side effects. The use of bay oil externally, and the fruits and leaves as a seasoning, can cause allergies.