Thursday, 10 November 2016

Can bay leaf scent inhaling and oil massaging help with COPD?

On the 11th of October 2016 Judy presented us with a question related to a tough medical condition. As a Medical Information Officer I must stress to all of you that the best person to advise you on any medical condition and ways of treatment is your doctor. If for any reason you cannot get hold of your doctor, try and reach for a healthcare professional that is familiar to your relevant medical history. I know this sounds very technical and boring, we doesn't want hot answers served on a plate, but this is the best advise considering that your past and present medical history/records determine a great deal of the prophylaxis and/or medical approach in managing your disease/symptoms.

So please, don't take it leniently - by any means!!!

Now, in regards to Judy's question. She states suffering from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and wants to know if burning bay leaves or massaging the plant's essential oils can help ease her breathing.

Let's just very quickly understand what condition we are talking about and the careful approach to home made remedies that can actually be used in these specific cases.

To start with, COPD refers to a set of problems (namely emphysema and chronic bronchitis) that affect lungs to an extent where the breathing is quite compromised... and with it several other physiological functions which natural dynamics depend directly or indirectly from a healthy breathing process. I won't go in detail through every little thing that is advised as a possible treatment because I want to tackle the specifics of her question, but if any of you is interested to know more, this page is very helpful [1].

Now!, can bay leaf inhaling or oil massaging help with COPD?

Good news is that in May 2011, Shaza Felemban article on the antimicrobial and cytotoxic activities of Laurus nobilis leaves reported investigations that resulted in a weak antimicrobial effect against E. coli [2]. On the other hand, a strong reduction of pyocyanin levels (virulence factor in the Gram-negative Pseudomonas aeruginosa that commonly infect lungs of immunosuppressed individuals) has also been reported by Sabur et al (year unknown) [3] (access here). In addition, Felemban work shows promising results against malignant tumours, inducing the cellular death of human breast adenocarcinomas [2]. You can read and download her masters dissertation here. One of the most interesting things mentioned by the author is that for treating COPD, the substance Tiotropium (an anticholinergic bronchodilator) is used, and generally bronchodilators are based on Ipatropium (a derivative from Atropine). Atropine being obtained from Atropa belladona (the devil's herb), a very dangerous plant I wrote about a long time ago (see here).

I was honestly incapable of finding any scientific article that clearly links any of the active substances in Laurus nobilis to improving COPD. Thus, for that matter, I cannot say that apart from the plant's antibacterial effects reported there is any other positive effect for a COPD patient.

This observation does not mean that there isn't people stating the opposite (Pinterest is full of home remedies I wouldn't use!!!!). However, I personally used bay leaf infusions many years in a row for successfully treating bronchitis... but COPD is a different level.

[1] COPD, British Lung Foundation, [], last visited on the 10th of November 2016, last update unknown.

[2] Felemban, S. (2011). "Antimicrobial and cytotoxic activities of extracts from Laurus nobilis leaves". KAUST repository, [], last visited on the 10th of November 2011.

[3] Sabur, M. K. M., Ahmadi, L. A. A., Shaaban, M. I. A., Ibrahim, S. R. M. (year unknown). "Appraisal of quorum sensing inhibitory activity of some medicinal plants". Faculty of Pharmacy, Taibah University.

Post image kindly obtained from

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