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Bay leaf (Laurus nobilis)


Laurus nobilis
Synonyms / Common Names / Related Terms
Alpha-methylene-gamma-butyrolactone moiety, bay laurel, bay tree, costunolide, daphne, dehydrocostus lactone, Grecian laurel, guaianolides, Lauraceae (family), laurel, laurel oil, Laurus, Laurus nobilis L., Mediterranean bay, Mediterranean laurel, noble laurel, p-menthane hydroperoxide, reynosin, Roman laurel, santamarine, sesquiterpenes, sweet bay, sweet laurel, true bay, trypanocidal terpenoids, zaluzanin D.

Note: Bay leaf (Laurus nobilis) may be confused with California bay leaf (Umbellularia californica), also known as "California laurel" or "Oregon myrtle," or Indian bay leaf (Cinnamoma tamala). This monograph only covers bay leaf (Laurus nobilis).

Mechanism of Action

Pharmacology:

  • Constituents: One of the main active constituents of Laurus nobilis is 1,8-cineole.9 Other constituents include sesquiterpenes (costunolide and zaluzanin D), two guaianolides (dehydrocostus lactone and zaluzanin D), p-menthane hydroperoxides (including (1R,4S)-1-hydroperoxy-p-menth-2-en-8-ol acetate), costunolide, dehydrocostus lactone, reynosin, santamarine, 3alpha-acetoxyeudesma-1,4(15),11(13)-trien-12,6alpha-+ ++olide, and 3-oxoeudesma-1,4,11(13)-trien-12,6alpha-olide.3,10,8
  • ACE inhibitory effects: In an in vitro study, an ethanolic extract of Laurus nobilis, showed a high ACE inhibition value of 64% (1mg/mL).7
  • Antibacterial effects: In an in vitro study, Laurus nobilis L. essential oil exhibited very strong antibacterial activity against the tested bacteria (p<0.05).11 Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analyses revealed that 1,8-cineole (60.72%) was the predominant constituent in bay laurel.
  • Anticonvulsive effects: In an animal study, the leaf essential oil of Laurus nobilis seemed to protect mice against tonic convulsions induced by maximal electroshock and by pentylenetetrazole.4 Components responsible for this effect may be the methyleugenol, eugenol, and pinene present in the essential oil. At anticonvulsant doses, the essential oil produced sedation and motor impairment, which may be related to cineol, eugenol, and methyleugenol.
  • Anti-fungal effects: In a laboratory study, the essential oil of Laurus nobilis was found to inhibit the growth of Phytophthora infestans in a dose-dependent manner.12 Complete growth inhibition of the pathogen by laurel essential oil was observed at 0.4-2.0μg/mL air concentration. For the contact phase, laurel essential oil was contact inhibitory at 51.2μg/mL. 1,8-cineole appears to be the dominant anti-fungal constituent in Laurus nobilis.9
  • Anti-leukemia effects: In an in vitro study, sesquiterpenes (costunolide and zaluzanin D) isolated from laurel (Laurus nobilis L.) induced cell death and morphological change indicative of apoptotic chromatin condensation in leukemia HL-60 cells.3 In another in vitro study, hot water soluble (HWS)-sesquiterpenes [anhydroperoxycostunolide and 3-oxo-eudesma-1,4(15),11(13)triene-12,6alpha-olide] purified from laurel (Laurus nobilis L.) displayed strong growth inhibitory effect against human promyelotic leukemia HL-60 cells.1 Apoptotic morphological changes of the nucleus, including chromatin condensation were induced in the HL-60 cells treated with the sesquiterpenes. In an in vitro study, concentration- and time-dependent specific induction of apoptosis by 1,8-cineole was observed in human leukemia Molt 4B and HL-60 cells, but not in human stomach cancer KATO III cells.2
  • Antioxidant effects: In in vitro study, antioxidative activity of Laurus nobilis leaves, bark, and fruit methanolic extracts (crude and defatted) were studied on the level of lipid peroxidation in liposomes, induced by Fe(2+)/ascorbate system and measured spectrophotometrically by the TBA-test.5 The most significant inhibition of lipid peroxidation was obtained with methanolic extracts of laurel bark (70.6% of inhibition was obtained with 1.0mg of crude extract). In an in vitro study, the free radical scavenger activity of Laurus nobilis water extract was around 90%.7
  • Ethanol absorption effects: In an animal study, several active principles of Laurus nobilis leaves appeared to selectively inhibit ethanol absorption in oral ethanol-loaded rats.8
  • Neuromuscular effects: In an animal study, the leaf essential oil of Laurus nobilis produced sedation and motor impairment, which may be related to cineol, eugenol, and methyleugenol at anticonvulsant doses.4
  • Sedative effects: In an animal study, the leaf essential oil of Laurus nobilis produced sedation and motor impairment, which may be related to cineol, eugenol, and methyleugenol at anticonvulsant doses.4
  • Wound healing effects: In an animal study using excision and incision wound models in rats, Laurus nobilis treated animals had a moderately high (p<0.05) rate of wound contraction, weight of the granulation tissue, and hydroxyproline content, which was better than the control group.6

Pharmacodynamics/Kinetics:

  • Insufficient available evidence.

References
  1. Komiya, T., Yamada, Y., Moteki, H., Katsuzaki, H., Imai, K., and Hibasami, H. Hot water soluble sesquiterpenes [anhydroperoxy-costunolide and 3-oxoeudesma-1,4(15),11(13)triene-12,6alpha-olide] isolated from laurel (Laurus nobilis L.) induce cell death and morphological change indicative of apoptotic chromatin condensation in leukemia cells. Oncol Rep  2004;11(1):85-88. 14654907
  2. Moteki, H., Hibasami, H., Yamada, Y., Katsuzaki, H., Imai, K., and Komiya, T. Specific induction of apoptosis by 1,8-cineole in two human leukemia cell lines, but not a in human stomach cancer cell line. Oncol Rep  2002;9(4):757-760. 12066204
  3. Hibasami, H., Yamada, Y., Moteki, H., Katsuzaki, H., Imai, K., Yoshioka, K., and Komiya, T. Sesquiterpenes (costunolide and zaluzanin D) isolated from laurel (Laurus nobilis L.) induce cell death and morphological change indicative of apoptotic chromatin condensation in leukemia HL-60 cells. Int J Mol Med 2003;12(2):147-151. 12851709
  4. Sayyah, M., Valizadeh, J., and 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. 12046861
  5. Simic, M., Kundakovic, T., and Kovacevic, N. Preliminary assay on the antioxidative activity of Laurus nobilis extracts. Fitoterapia 2003;74(6):613-616. 12946729
  6. Nayak, S., Nalabothu, P., Sandiford, S., Bhogadi, V., and Adogwa, A. Evaluation of wound healing activity of Allamanda cathartica. L. and Laurus nobilis. L. extracts on rats. BMC Complement Altern Med 2006;6:12. 16597335
  7. Ferreira, A., Proenca, C., Serralheiro, M. L., and Araujo, M. E. The in vitro screening for acetylcholinesterase inhibition and antioxidant activity of medicinal plants from Portugal. J Ethnopharmacol  4-28-2006;16737790
  8. Matsuda, H., Shimoda, H., Uemura, T., and Yoshikawa, M. Preventive effect of sesquiterpenes from bay leaf on blood ethanol elevation in ethanol-loaded rat: structure requirement and suppression of gastric emptying. Bioorg Med Chem Lett  9-20-1999;9(18):2647-2652. 10509909
  9. Simic, A., Sokovic, M. D., Ristic, M., Grujic-Jovanovic, S., Vukojevic, J., and Marin, P. D. The chemical composition of some Lauraceae essential oils and their antifungal activities. Phytother Res 2004;18(9):713-717. 15478207
  10. Uchiyama, N., Matsunaga, K., Kiuchi, F., Honda, G., Tsubouchi, A., Nakajima-Shimada, J., and Aoki, T. Trypanocidal terpenoids from Laurus nobilis L. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 2002;50(11):1514-1516. 12419922
  11. Dadalioglu, I. and Evrendilek, G. A. Chemical compositions and antibacterial effects of essential oils of Turkish oregano (Origanum minutiflorum), bay laurel (Laurus nobilis), Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas L.), and fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) on common foodborne pathogens. J Agric Food Chem 12-29-2004;52(26):8255-8260. 15612826
  12. Soylu, E. M., Soylu, S., and Kurt, S. Antimicrobial activities of the essential oils of various plants against tomato late blight disease agent Phytophthora infestans. Mycopathologia 2006;161(2):119-128. 16463095




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