Bay Essential Oil: Is It Worth a Try?

Did you know bay essential oil has its own proven health benefits?

It’s not just the tea that’s good for you!

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What is Bay Essential Oil?

You may be familiar with bay laurel. But the bay I’m talking about here is West Indian bay or bay rum.

Its botanical name is Pimenta racemosa and it’s quite different to the common bay laurel (whose botanical name is Laurus nobilis).

Here’s a look at my very own bay rum tree:

West Indian Bay Leaf Plant

Pimenta racemosa essential oil has a wonderful spicy, peppery smell.

It’s part of the pepper family after all. As such, the oil contains high levels of eugenol.

Clove, nutmeg and cinnamon oils also have high levels of this compound.

Benefits of Bay Essential Oil

It is antimicrobial

Bay essential oil is one of the best antimicrobial essential oils.

This 1999 study tested 52 essential oils on a few microbes like:

  • Candida albicans (fungi)
  • E. coli (bacteria)
  • Salmonella enterica (bacteria)
  • Staphylococcus aureus (bacteria)

The researchers found the top three essential oils were: lemongrass, oregano and – you guessed it – bay!

A more recent study from 2016 also supported bay’s antimicrobial benefits.

And a 2018 study found bay acted as a great control for tomato bacterial wilt… I’ve lost many tomato plants this way. Now, I spray them with this oil.

The oil kills insects too

The oil is also a powerful fumigant.

This 2012 study tested the toxicity of 98 essential oils against the midge insect. The following oils were effective:

  • bay
  • caraway
  • clary sage
  • oregano
  • lemongrass
  • cassia
  • sage
  • thyme

The researchers suggested these oils could replace toxic synthetic insecticides currently used today.

Bay also showed larvicidal benefits against mosquitoes in this 2006 study. And insecticidal effects on German cockroaches (2007 study).

It kills spiders too

There are several studies that prove this essential oil is a potent arachnid killer. That means it kills arachnids like spiders, mites, and ticks, even at very low concentrations.

Use Bay Oil with Care

Bay essential oil adds a wonderful, spicy scent to your diffuser blend. But, eugenol can irritate your nose and throat, so use the oil in low doses. It can also affect your skin too, so dilute and patch test properly before using it on your skin.

I talked about spraying my tomato plants with bay oil. Here’s what I do.

Mix 5 mL of the essential oil and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to 1 cup of water and 1/4 cup of isopropyl alcohol. Add to a spray bottle and shake properly before spraying plants. Use this spray in outdoor spaces and cupboards to keep bugs away.

Although, bay essential oil is a powerful antimicrobial oil, please follow the advice of your medical practitioner when dealing with bacterial or fungal infections. And don’t ingest the oil… ever!

If you can get your hands on bay leaves, add them to a pot of boiling water and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Your room will be filled with the vapor (pretty much bay essential oil vapor) and that vapor may have air-purifying and antimicrobial benefits.

Or just make bay leaf tea ha!

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