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Pimenta racemosa

West Indian Bay is sometimes confused with the wholly unrelated Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis), the herb of Apollo which used to crown dignitaries and now flavours our soups, or, with Bayberry, a North-American bush, also known as Wax Myrtle. West Indian Bay is a medium-sized tree with highly fragrant leaves reminiscent of Clove oil. As the name suggests, it is native to the West Indies and closely related to Allspice/Pimento, as both are members of the Myrtle family. Today, West Indian Bay is mostly grown in the Dominican Republic, where it is distilled for its essential oil, which has long been popular in the cosmetics industry. Bay leaf oil is widely used as a 'male scent' for aftershaves and masculine colognes. About a hundred years ago, it was common practice to distill the oil in a mixture of rum and water, which resulted in a concoction that became immensely popular as a hair tonic. The Dominican Republic is still the major producer of 'Bay Rum' products.

Culpeper says 'The Oyl takes away marks of the Skin and Flesh by bruises and dissolveth the congealed Bloud in them: It helpeth also the Itch, Scabs, and Wheals in the Skin.' The ancients swear by this scent as an effective way to ward off infectious viruses. It can also be used for aching joints, muscles and bones, to ease cramps, flatulence and dyspepsia and to promote menstrual flow. However, it can be dangerous during pregnancy. Use with caution.

Bay is used for divination and prophecy. It makes the mind receptive and enables the practitioner to understand and interpret the oracle. It is also used as a protective panacea, to ward off all evil influences and protect against the evil eye or other forms of envy, jealousy and mean spirited daemons.

A somewhat medicinal 'clean', green scent with a high top note. Blends well with the evergreens: Cypress, Pine, Juniper, Rosemary, but also lemony scents such as Lemon Verbena, Lemongrass, Labdanum, as well as Frankincense and Clary Sage.

West Indian bay, Bay rum, Ciliment.

Country of origin