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"Libraries: The medicine chest of the soul."
Library at Thebes, inscription over the door
The historical use of juniper oil has been to protect, purify and stimulate. Today, juniper essential oil is used to treat colds and skin conditions.

Botanical Profile of Juniper

Juniper is a tree or shrub that is evergreen; it grows up to 20 feet tall and has blue-green needles and small flowers.  The berries of the juniper tree are initially green, and then mature to black after the first year.  The juniper tree is native to countries of northern Europe, Canada, Scandinavia, Siberia and northern Asia; juniper essential oil is produced in France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Canada and Austria.
Distillation of Juniper Oil

Juniper essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of the berries or the needles and wood; however,  it is the essential oil distilled from the berries of the juniper tree which is the preferred oil for therapeutic purposes, as it is more pure and stronger in its actions.

Juniper berry essential oil is a superior oil to that distilled from the needles and wood of the juniper tree; however, it is more expensive than other juniper oil, making juniper berry oil open to adulteration.  Be aware that juniper oil may be described under the general name “juniper berry” which may mean it could be berry, wood or needle oil.

Juniper berry essential oil has a sweet, fresh aroma that is less woody than juniper leaf or twig oil; it is clear or pale yellow in color.  Juniper berry essential oil is a useful oil to blend with other essential oils such as cypress, cedarwood, pine, lavender, sandalwood, rosemary, geranium, bergamot and frankincense.

Traditional Use of Juniper

Juniper was originally believed to have magical powers and was consequently used to protect against evil; it has also been used as an incense in ceremonies to purify and stimulate.  Medicinally, juniper has been used for respiratory problems, urinary infections, arthritis, rheumatism, gout, inflammation, relieve exhaustion and improve memory.

Use of Juniper Essential Oil in Aromatherapy

Juniper essential oil has a number of therapeutic properties.  It is antiseptic, diuretic, detoxifying, purifying, anti-catarrhal and a tonic.  In aromatherapy, juniper berry essential oil is used in the treatment of bronchitis, eczema, acne, dandruff, gout (capable of dispelling uric acid from joints), fatigue, nervous exhaustion, cystitis, menstrual difficulties and prostrate problems.

Types of Juniper Oil for Aromatherapy

There are a number of different species of the juniper tree but it is common juniper (Juniperus communis) that is used as an essential oil in aromatherapy; in addition, note that juniper berry essential oil is the preferred juniper oil for therapeutic properties.  Do not use juniper essential oil distilled from the wood and needles of the juniper tree.

Other Uses of Juniper

Juniper is used in perfumes, soap, cosmetics and detergents; it is also found in a number of food products including alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.  The berries of juniper are used to flavor gin; juniper berries and other juniper extracts are also used in laxative preparations and veterinary medications for fleas and ticks.

Cautions for Using Juniper Oil

Juniper essential oil may cause slight irritation for those of a sensitive nature; it is not recommended for use in pregnancy as it is believed to be capable of stimulating the uterine muscle.  Juniper essential oil can also be nephro-toxic and therefore not recommended for use with those who have kidney disease.  As is the case when using any essential oil, exercise care and take professional advice, if you are unfamiliar with the use of essential oils.


–Lawless, Julia 1995 Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils UK: Thorsons
–Price, Shirley 2000 Aromatherapy Workbook UK: Thorsons
–Price, Len, Price, Shirley 2002 Aromatherapy for Health Professionals UK: Churchill Livingstone

This article was written by Sharon Falsetto and appeared in its original format on Suite101 as Juniper Essential Oil

It is expressively prohibited to copy or use this article in any way unless written permission is given by the author Sharon Falsetto.  If it is discovered that copyright laws have not been complied with, legal action will be pursued by the author Sharon Falsetto.

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