LAURUS NOBILIS apothecary uses

Bay laurel is an evergreen plant from the Mediterranean area and it has a long history among the classical civilizations. For the Greeks and the Romans it was mostly an ornamental plant used in gardens, for garlands and offered to the winners in sports or poetic competitions but also to heroic soldiers. The laurel wreath became a symbol of victory.

Both its leaves and berries were used for medicinal purposes as they contain an essential oil with a high concentration of eucalyptol. The plant has narcotic and carminative properties, calming abdominal pain and favoring the evacuation of intestinal gas. In apothecary works from Transylvania bay laurel was also recommended as a stimulant.

Ripe laurel berries
Dried laurel berries
The History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca includes five jars for pharmaceutical products obtained from the leaves and especially the berries of bay laurel. Three of the items are included in he monthly FOCUS display for April 2017, presenting the history of various apothecary ingredients.  One glass jar with the painted signature “Pulv. (alchemical symbol) Bacc. Lauri” (laurel berry powder) was used during the 19th century in the Molnar pharmacy from Oradea and there are also two jars made of wood. The one with the signature “Pul. Lauri a Bacc” (laurel berry powder) dates from the 18th century and was acquired through an older donation, while the one marked “Fruct Lauri” (bay laurel fruits) inside a cartouche with decorative ribbon and has been used in the Unicorn Pharmacy in Cluj.
19th-century glass jar for laurel berry powder, using the alchemical symbol for powder.
19th-cenury wooden apothecary jar with decorated cartouche
18th-century wooden apothecary jar inscribed Pulv. Lauri a Bacc (bay laurel berry powder)

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