(Pimenta acris, Pimenta racemosa)
Description: Bay is also known as bay rum tree or West Indian bay. This distinguishes it from the bay laurel, which is generally used less in aromatherapy. Bay is an evergreen tree, with large, leathery leaves and aromatic fruits. The essential oil is steam— or water-distilled from the leaves.
Countries of origin: West Indies, Puerto Rico, Venezuela
Characteristics: Bay has fresh, spicy, camphoraceous top notes with sweet, warm, balsamic undertones. It blends well with most spices and citruses, and also with lavender, rosemary, geranium, ylang ylang and clove.
Main therapeutic properties: Analgesic, antiseptic, astringent, expectorant, stimulant.
Bay is one of the best essential oils to use as a hair tonic, and the traditional hair tonic ‘bay rum’ was produced by distilling rum with the bay eaves, Bay stimulates the scalp, helps to eliminate and prevent dandruff, and restores body and tone to oily and damaged, lifeless hair. Overall, bay is reviving, refreshing and clearing.
Bay gives an interesting, masculine fragrance to massage oils and is good for general body aches and pains. It is used in steam inhalations because it is an effective antiseptic for the respiratory system.
Psychologically, there are no particular indications for bay, although its masculine fragrance is often well suited to those who dislike the sweeter- smelling essential oils.
Contraindications: Do not use on very sensitive skin or directly on mucous membranes. Use in moderation and do not use for prolonged periods of time.