If you live in Northern Europe or New England in the US, you may be familiar with juniper berries, those piney little products of the juniper plant that are used to flavor food, alcohol, and home scent products, like candles.
But juniper berries offer so much more than you might expect. Read on and you might decide you’ll to have some juniper berry essential oil in your home for its many health and beauty benefits.
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Origins of Juniper Berry Essential Oil
Juniper berries aren’t really berries; they are the female seed cones from the plant.
Juniper berry essential oil is made by steam distillation from the berries and needles of the juniper plant, a coniferous shrub that can reach the size of a small tree in some locations.
Essential oil can be derived from any of the above juniper species, and the best oil is said to come from Bulgaria.
Juniper Berries in Times Past
Juniper berries were used medicinally by Native Americans, especially as a diuretic and for arthritis relief.
Likewise, Tibetans also made use of juniper berries for thousands of years.
The Ancient Egyptians used juniper berries to treat tapeworms, as well as to make incense and prepare the dead for their journey to the afterlife.
In Sumeria and Babylonia, it was believed that juniper berries could protect people from negative energy and ward off evil spirits.
The Ancient Greeks liked juniper berries for the increased physical endurance they offered during the original Olympic games.
In Ancient Rome, juniper berries often substituted for black pepper, which was very expensive at the time as it had to be imported from India.
Blending Juniper Berry Essential Oil with Other Essential Oils
As you might expect from a conifer, juniper berries have a fresh, green scent from pinene chemical compounds in them.
With their balsamic notes tinged with bright citrus, juniper berries make ideal middle notes in perfumed products, and they are wonderful for adding zest to meat-based cuisine, hence their popularity in Scandinavia.
Juniper berry essential oil is perfect for aromatherapy in the home during fall and winter, when you get the urge to bring the outdoors inside.
It is a superb scent to use over the holidays when you don’t want something that’s too over-the-top Christmas-y.
Because juniper berries can play the role of black pepper in food, it’s no surprise that juniper berry essential oil combines well with the same oils that blend nicely with black pepper essential oil, including:
- fir needle
- clary sage
- Roman chamomile
11 Benefits and Uses of Juniper Berry Essential Oil
In addition to smelling fabulous and working as a spice, juniper berries offer a host of benefits to your physical and emotional health.
1. Protecting Wounds and Preventing Infection
Juniper berries have natural antiseptic and properties, and historically preparations made with juniper berries were used on wounds to prevent infection and stop hemorrhaging. A few drops in the bath water can help heal hemorrhoids.
If you have even a small wound, you can add juniper berry essential oil, a vulnerary, to an ointment or dressing to help it heal faster and keep germs at bay. Juniper berry essential oil also has activity against yeast and other fungi that can cause skin problems.
And it doesn’t just fight microbes on the body; you can add a few drops of juniper berry essential oil to water when doing your household cleaning too, to fight germs around the home.
2. Tightening Skin and Fighting Epidermal Damage
As an astringent, juniper berry essential oil can cause blood vessels to contract, which means it can be used in daily facial care. Its natural antiseptic properties make it ideal for treating and preventing acne breakouts, as well as combating eczema, psoriasis, and dandruff (don’t forget, your scalp is skin too).
Juniper berry essential oil is also an antioxidant, which means it helps your skin fight free radicals, molecules that contribute to skin damage and signs of aging, like lines, wrinkles, and dark spots. Add a few drops to skin toners or lotions, and apply them after you wash your face. You can also add juniper berry essential oil to foot creams to inhibit fungal infections.
3. Treating Arthritis and Rheumatic Conditions
As mentioned above, juniper berries have antirheumatic properties, which make the essential oil great for treating arthritis and gout.
Its circulation-stimulating elements help juniper berry essential oil remove toxins from the blood and reduce swelling from inflammation.
You can add a few drops of juniper berry essential oil to Epsom salts, along with some lavender essential oil, and create a bath to soothe joint aches and pains.
4. Calming Cramps and Soothing Spasms
The bath salt mixture suggested above will also relieve muscle cramps and spasms—great after working out or driving long distances. This is because juniper berry essential oil is an antispasmodic too. Some women find this aspect of juniper berry essential oil also quells menstrual cramps.
5. Purifying and Detoxifying the Blood
As a depurative, juniper berry essential oil can clean your blood of undesirable elements through the liver and kidneys. It removes environmental toxins, uric acid, and heavy metals, as well as excess hormones your body doesn’t need.
6. Promoting Urination and Flushing Excess Fluid
Do you get frequent bladder infections or bloating from retaining fluid? Are you experiencing chronic renal issues or failure?
Juniper berry essential oil is ideal for flushing excess liquids from your body because it is also a diuretic. Increasing the frequency and volume of your urination can help remove toxins from your system, assist with losing weight, and lower your blood pressure.
The antimicrobial properties of juniper berry essential oil can help prevent bladder and urinary tract infections when taken in a tonic of cranberries, dandelion, and fennel.
7. Encouraging Healthy Perspiration
Don’t forget you can eliminate excess fluid through perspiration as well as through urination. Juniper berry essential oil is a sudorific, which means it helps your body sweat. Sweat removes trace amounts of toxins, cleanses the sweat glands, and helps keep pores clean to prevent breakouts.
8. Improving Circulation
You’ve already learned that juniper berry essential oil can stimulate your circulation to help with rheumatic conditions. As a rubefacient, juniper berry essential oil can improve circulation to your skin too, which adds rosiness to your complexion (who doesn’t need that in the dead of winter?) and encourages natural skin turnover for a fresh, healthy appearance.
9. Improving Stomach and Intestinal Performance for Digestion
Juniper berry essential oil can additionally function as a stomachic and help your digestive system work at top performance. Because it heals wounds, juniper berry essential oil treats stomach ulcers and helps repair injuries to the lining of the stomach.
It also encourages sufficient (but not excess) acid and bile production to digest food more efficiently.
As a carminative, juniper berry essential oil relieves gas. This keeps flatulence at bay, eliminates heartburn from gas being forced upwards in the digestive tract, and allows food to move faster through the digestive organs.
10. Relaxing Anxiety and Uplifting the Mood
Juniper berry essential oil’s benefits aren’t just limited to physical categories; it can improve your mood as well. A few drops in an aromatherapy preparation can make you feel less anxious and more hopeful.
In addition to using juniper berry essential oil in a diffuser at home, you can keep some on a cotton swab in an enclosed container and carry it with you to sniff when you feel tense or worried. Don’t forget to inhale a few drops before bed to help you sleep stress free too.
- Related: 14 Aphrodisiac EOs for Romance, Sex & Libido
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Recipes: Using Juniper Berry Essential Oil in Your Home
There are lots of ways to use juniper berry essential oil at home in DIY preparations for both physical and emotional health. Here are some recipes to get you started.
Mood Lifting Diffuser Blend
Warm in your diffuser after a stressful day, when you’re sad, or when you feel anxious about problems.
Other Diffuser Blends to Try
- juniper berry and bergamot to feel more cheerful
- juniper berry, bergamot, grapefruit, and ylang ylang for relaxing romance
- juniper berry, lavender, and cedarwood for deep sleep
- juniper berry, lime, cedarwood, and cypress for spiritual connection and to get in sync with nature (great during the full moon or solstices)
- juniper berry, grapefruit, and clary sage to get in the mood for romance
- juniper berry, rosemary, and cypress to concentrate or stay on task
- juniper berry, fir, and cedarwood for holiday invigoration
Night Serum to Fight Aging
- Add oils to a small roller bottle or dropper-top bottle
- Fill the remainder of the bottle with fractionated coconut oil
- Dab on your face at night before sleep making sure to cover fine lines and wrinkles, as well as areas damaged by the sun.
- Apply moisturizer on top of serum to seal it in into the skin for overnight action.
Clear Skin Toner
- 8 drops geranium
- 6 drops juniper berry
- 6 drops bergamot
- 100 ml rose hydrolat / hydrosol / rose water
- Apply with a cotton swab to the face and neck after washing to keep acne breakouts to a minimum and to tighten the pores.
Can also be used on the back or on other places where acne breakouts are problematic.
Moisturizing Cream to Stimulate Circulation and Fight Varicose Veins
- 10 drops juniper berry
- 10 drops cypress
- 5 drops helichrysum
- 5 drops of lemon
- 1/4 cup jojoba oil
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 cup shea butter
- 1 tbsp liquid vitamin E
- Add this essential oil mixture to a blend of ¼ cup jojoba oil, ¼ cup coconut oil, ½ cup shea butter, and 1 tablespoon liquid vitamin E. (If shea butter and coconut oil are too difficult to blend, they can first be melted together in a double boiler.)
- Refrigerate your moisturizer mixture until it is solid (a few hours)
- Whip the mixture with a hand mixer until you achieve stiff peaks.
- Store in a sterile container.
- Apply every morning (not at night, when it could be too stimulating), rubbing towards the heart.
- Store this moisturizer in the refrigerator during warm weather to keep it from liquefying.
Massage Oil to Ease Gout and Rheumatic Inflammation
- 6 drops of juniper berry
- 8 drops of lavender
- 2 drops of german chamomile
- 30 ml of your favorite carrier oil (argan, coconut, sesame, sweet almond, jojoba, grapeseed, macadamia)
- Blend together & store in a glass bottle with an oil dispenser at the top
- Use all over the body for aches and pains due to gout and arthritis
Closing Tips for Using Juniper Berry Essential Oil
For the most efficacious juniper essential oil, find one made from berries and not just needles. The berries should be properly dried before being made into oil, and a quality essential oil producer will use top berries.
The highest quality juniper berry essential oil is of food grade and can be added to things you eat and drink. There are even kosher preparations of juniper berry essential oil!
It used to be that juniper berry essential oil was contraindicated (not advised) during pregnancy and with kidney disease, but this may have been due to confusion about the Juniperus sabina species, which is toxic. You should check with your practitioner if you are pregnant and want to use juniper berry essential oil. Also, always use caution when using essential oils with very young children.
Juniper berry essential oil can also be used with pets. The aroma can help animals relax, and it can improve their disposition as well. However, the use of juniper berry essential oil should be limited to aromatherapy applications; don’t use it topically or in food, and use it in small quantities with cats, which are more sensitive to many essential oils.
Juniper berry essential oil is quite pungent, so don’t go overboard with it at first. Use a small amount when blending, and you can always add more if needed. Juniper berry essential oil can also be irritating to mucous membranes, such as those inside the nose and mouth, so you may want to dilute it first for use on any sensitive areas. As always with any essential oil, do a patch test first to make sure you are not allergic to it, although this reaction is rare.
Hopefully you found this article helpful. If you have any questions, comments or tips of your own please let us know in the comment section below.