Juniper, an evergreen shrub/tree native to several countries in the Northern Hemisphere, belongs to the family Cupressaceae. The tree has needles that are bluish-green in color and produces small, round black berries. The berries and needles of the juniper tree have a long history in traditional medicine and have been used to treat urinary disorders such as cystitis, various respiratory disorders, gout and rheumatism. It was also believed in medieval times to have magical properties against the black forces of witchcraft. Extracts of juniper are used in veterinary medicine for the treatment of parasitic infections. It is an ingredient in many perfumed products.
The berries of the juniper tree can be used in cookery and are also used in the process of making gin, giving the drink its distinctive perfume and flavor. Juniper is cultivated for commercial production of the essential oil in Italy and the Balkan countries.
Juniper oil is produced from the berries and also from the needles and twigs by the process of steam distillation. The oil is pale yellow in color, and has a pleasingly fresh and woody, warm, sweet fragrance. It is a traditional component of incense and has many uses in aromatherapy. Its diuretic and antiseptic properties make it useful in the treatment of bladder disorders and fluid retention. It also helps in the elimination of toxins, in particular uric acid, making it useful in the treatment of gout. In massage it will also help rheumatic problems and menstrual disorders and is warming and stimulating.
Juniper is beneficial in the treatment of stress and anxiety as it has a calming effect on the emotions and will help promote positive feelings.
Juniper oil can be used in skin care for the treatment of greasy, blackhead-prone skin and acne. Its action is astringent, cleansing, detoxifying and toning. Facial steaming will be particularly beneficial.
Suitable methods of use
Warning: To be avoided during pregnancy. May cause skin irritation in some individuals – dilute well.