Type of plant: Evergreen tree growing over 30 feet high with small, highly fragrant leaves, small white flowers, and black berries
Part used: Leaves
Method of extraction: Steam distillation
Data: Distilled from the dried leaves. The Pimenta racemosa tree is very common in the Caribbean and Central America, where the leaves have long been distilled with alcohol to produce bay rum — a tonic used for colds, muscle pains, and hair treatments. Used in many male fragrances.
Principal places of production: Dominica, Jamaica, Virgin Islands
When buying look for: A deep amber to light-brown liquid with a spicy, sweet, clove-like aroma. Should not be confused with bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) oil.
Therapeutic properties: Analgesic, anti-infectious, antineuralgic, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, circulatory, nervine, tonic
Therapeutic uses: Muscular aches and pains, neuralgia, arthritis, circulatory conditions, bronchial infection, digestive problems
Blends well with: Bergamot, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon leaf, clove bud, coriander seed, frankincense, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, hyssop decumbens, lavender (spike), lemon, mandarin, marjoram (sweet), mastic, nutmeg, orange (sweet), palmarosa, petitgrain, rosemary, sandalwood, ylang ylang
Precautionary advice: Avoid prolonged use. Can be a skin irritant. Those prone to allergic skin reactions are advised to carry out a skin patch test. Best avoided during pregnancy. GRAS status.