Prunus laurocerasus / Laurierkers

De laurierkers, vaak kortweg laurier genoemd, is een populaire haagplant die in verschillende soorten tuinen wordt aangeplant. De naam “laurier” wordt door botanici niet graag gebruikt, omdat hiermee een ander plant wordt bedoeld, die we kennen als keukenkruid: de laurus nobilis. De laurierkers wordt in het Latijn prunus laurocerasus genoemd en is een heel andere plant, die zelfs giftig is en dus maar beter niet in de keuken gebruikt wordt!

De blauwzuurglycosiden (die blauwzuur vrijgeven), bevinden zich in de bladeren en de pitten van de vruchtjes van de laurierkers, zij verklaren de giftigheid van deze plant. Er werden al intoxicaties gemeld bij dieren (runderen, geiten). De bessen van de laurierkers zijn weinig giftig.

Een bekende soort uit de Prunusfamilie is de pruimenboom, maar ook veel kersenbomen vallen onder het geslacht prunus. De laurierkers is er één van en heet dus voluit Prunus laurocerasus, waarbij “laurocerasus” letterlijk laurierkers betekent. De bladeren van deze struik doen denken aan die van de echte laurier, waar de laurierkers dus niet aan verwant is.

Herb: Cherry Laurel

Latin name: Prunus laurocerasus

Synonyms: Cerasus laurocerasus, Laurocerasus officinalis, Padus laurocerasus

Family: Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Medicinal use of Cherry Laurel: The fresh leaves are antispasmodic, narcotic and sedative. They are of value in the treatment of coughs, whooping cough, asthma, dyspepsia and indigestion. Externally, a cold infusion of the leaves is used as a wash for eye infections. There are different opinions as to the best time to harvest the leaves, but they should only be used fresh because the active principles are destroyed if the leaves are dried. Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, all members of the genus contain amygdalin and prunasin, substances which break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid (cyanide or prussic acid). In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being.

Edible parts of Cherry Laurel: Fruit - raw or cooked. Sweet and reasonably pleasant when fully ripe. The cultivar "Camelliifolia" bears huge quantities of fruit. This is the size of a large cherry and, when fully ripe, has a reasonable flavour raw with a jelly-like texture and a slight astringency. Some sources suggest the fruit is poisonous, this probably refers to the unripe fruit. We have eaten this fruit in quite large quantities without the slightest ill effects (this also includes a 2 year old child) and so any toxicity is of a very low order. However, any fruit that is bitter should not be eaten in quantity because the bitterness is caused by the presence of the toxic compounds - see the notes above on toxicity. The fruit is about 8mm in diameter and contains one large seed. Water distilled from the leaves is used as an almond flavouring. It should only be uses in small quantities, it is poisonous in large amounts. Seed - raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter - see the notes above on toxicity.

Known hazards of Prunus laurocerasus: All parts of the plant contain hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.

Cherry Laurel Water

Agua de Laurel Cerezo, Cerasus laurocerasus, Common Cherry Laurel, Eau de Laurier-Cerise, Laurier-Amande, Laurier-Cerise, Laurier de Trébizonde, Laurier Royal, Laurière, Laurine, Laurocerasus Leaves, Laurocerasus officinalis, Laurocerasus ottinii, Laurocerasus vulgaris, Prunus grandifolia, Prunus laurocerasus.

What is Cherry Laurel Water?

Cherry laurel water is produced by water distillation of cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) leaves. People use the water as medicine.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

Pain relief, muscle spasms, cough, colds, sleeplessness, stomach and intestinal spasms, vomiting, and cancer.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Are there safety concerns?

Cherry laurel water seems safe for use, when used in small amounts (up to about 1 and 1/2 teaspoonfuls). Large amounts, or overdoses, can cause poisoning and death.

Do not use cherry laurel water if: You are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Dosing considerations for Cherry Laurel Water.

The appropriate dose of cherry laurel water depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for cherry laurel water. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.