Juniper berry essential oil comes from fresh or dried berries and needles of the Juniperus osteosperma and J. scopulorus plant species. Known as a powerful detoxifier and immune system booster, juniper berry plants stem from Bulgaria and have a long history of naturally helping prevent both short- and long-term illnesses.
Juniper berries themselves are high in flavonoid and polyphenol antioxidants that have strong free radical scavenging abilities. As protectors of health – both emotional and physical — in the medieval times, juniper berries were believed to help ward off witches. And for years, French hospital wards burned juniper and rosemary to help protect patients against lingering bacteria and infections.
Juniper Berry Essential Oil Benefits
Today, juniper berry essential oil (called Juniperi aetheroleum in most research studies) is most commonly used as natural remedies for sore throat and respiratory infections, fatigue, muscle aches, and arthritis. It can also help soothe skin flair-ups, boost the immune system, help with insomnia and aid with digestion.
Research shows juniper berry essential oil contains over 87 different active constituent compounds, including strong antioxidants, antibacterials and antifungals. With a sweet, woodsy smell (some people say it’s similar to balsamic vinegar), this oil is a popular addition to household cleaning products, aromatherapy blends and fragrance sprays.
Juniper berry essential oil benefits include:
- Increasing circulation
- Increasing urine elimination
- Healing skin conditions
- Antiseptic properties
10 Uses for Juniper Berry Essential Oil
1. Relieves Bloating
Juniper berries have long been used to treat kidney and bladder conditions since they contain both antibacterial and antifungal properties. One of the most popular uses for juniper berries is using them to prevent or naturally remedy urinary tract infections and bladder infections. A tonic of juniper berry essential oil taken internally is a great alternative to antibiotics if you catch an infection early enough.
The berries are also a natural diuretic, which helps the body flush out excess fluids from the bladder and urethra. This helps reduce bloating and clears up infections faster since it detoxifies the organs. This is especially effective when combined with other antibacterial and diuretics, including cranberries, fennel and dandelion.
2. Heals and Protects Skin
With natural antibacterial and antimicrobial abilities, juniper berry essential oil is one of the most popular natural remedies for fighting skin irritations and infections. It can serve as a home remedy for acne and supports beautiful skin, reducing stretch marks and helping heal conditions caused by hormone imbalances. Use one to two drops mixed with a carrier oil as a gentle astringent or moisturizer after washing your face. You can also add some to your shower to help fight back or treat blemishes and foot odors and fungus.
3. Digestive Booster
Juniper can help stimulate digestive enzymes and make it easier to break down and absorb protein, fats and nutrients from foods. For a natural digestive aid or liver cleanse, you can try taking juniper oil as a dietary supplement by adding one to two drops to a smoothie or water (only do this if you’re sure you have 100 percent pure therapeutic-grade oil).
The smell of juniper berries is known to offer emotional support and reduce physical and emotional signs of stress. Considered a natural anxiety remedy, it’s one of the most effective essential oils for dealing with inner trauma and pain because juniper has positive effects on relaxation responses in the brain when inhaled.
Use juniper berry essential oil at home by diffusing it throughout your bedroom, dab some on your wrists or clothes for an uplifting perfume, or add several drops to your laundry detergent mix so the smell lingers on your clothes and linens.
5. Heartburn and Acid Reflex Relief
To soothe indigestion symptoms like heartburn along with acid reflux symptoms, massage one to two drops of juniper berry along with coconut oil over the entire stomach, abdomen and chest, or consider taking it internally.
6. Sleep Aid
Because the smell of juniper can help you unwind and relieve muscle tension, try massaging some into your neck, chest and feet prior to bedtime. If you can’t sleep, juniper is a strategy for helping you fall asleep faster and is said to prevent restlessness, a racing mind and even nightmares that can keep you from staying alseep and getting good rest.
7. Insect Repellent
Just like citronella oil, the scent of juniper berry naturally repels bugs. Spray it on your clothes, mix it with carrier oil and massage into your skin, or diffuse it indoors and outdoors to purify the air and keep bites away.
8. Natural Household Cleanser
As a natural antiseptic that can prevent or reduce bacterial strains from spreading within your home, use juniper berry oil on kitchen and bathroom surfaces or appliances. When diffused indoors, it absorbs odors from your home while also purifying the air your family breathes. Run several drops through your laundry machine or dishwasher, and replace commercial cleaning products, which usually contain multiple harsh chemicals, with natural antibacterial juniper oil mixed with water.
9. Detoxification Enhancer
Juniper berry speeds up urination and elimination, which helps draw toxins, waste and irritants out of your digestive tract. Because juniper can also help fight stressful feelings, it might be helpful for fighting food cravings and emotional eating. Several times a day, you can place one to two drops in the palm of your hand, rub your hands together and then inhale the oil to stimulate a relaxation response. Also try having juniper internally as a detoxifying supplement.
10. Flavor Enhancer and Natural Preservative
Did you know that juniper berries are one of the key ingredients used to make gin? Their taste is also added to other foods, including some drinks, bitters, sauces, marinades and even Sauerkraut Recipes. In addition to adding a unique sweet flavor to foods, juniper berries act like a preservative since they keep away bacteria.
11. Sore Muscle Soother
If you are commonly looking for muscle ache treatment, you’ll be happy to know that as a way to help reduce pain and inflammation, juniper is great for those suffering from arthritis, injuries or bone and joint pains. Massage one to two drops along with a carrier oil into the areas of the concern as needed throughout the day, or consider adding some to a soaking bath along with lavender and Epsom salts.
Juniper Berry Research and Studies
Juniper berry is considered one of the world’s herbs or spices highest in antioxidant, antibacterial phytochemicals that fight free radical damage. According to research done by the Department of Biology and Pharmaceutical Botany at Medical University of Poland, juniper berry oil possesses a wide spectrum of pharmacological compounds that act like natural antibacterials and antifungals.
The 2003 study investigated the antibacterial and antifungal activity of three different juniper berry oils to determine their main components. Researchers tested juniper berry’s effects on patients of Regional Hospital of Gdańsk, some of whom showed resistance against commonly used antibiotics. The results showed that the antimicrobial activity of juniper oil is likely the result of the specific combination of compounds called (-)-alpha-pinene, p-cymene and beta-pinene.
Research done in 2005 by the Department of Microbiology at the University of Zagreb in Croatia confirmed these findings. Juniper essential oil analysis showed that the main compounds in the oil were alpha-pinene (29.17 percent) and beta-pinene (17.84 percent), sabinene (13.55 percent), limonene (5.52 percent) and mircene (0.33 percent). After researchers tested juniper essential oil for antimicrobial activity against 16 bacterial species, seven yeast-like fungi, three yeast species and four dermatophyte strains, juniper showed effective antibacterial activities against all of those tested.
Plant extracts and essential oils have been widely studied and used as antimicrobial agents in the last several decades to help fight infections without the need for antibiotics. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Phytotherapy and Phtopharmacology found that a traditionally used complex essential oil tonic made of ingredients including peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, cajeput oil, juniper berry oil and wintergreen oil acts like a natural agent for the treatment of uncomplicated infections of the skin and respiratory tract.
The main components of the complex essential oil tonic responsible for infection-fighting activities were menthol and menthone. The tonic’s effect was evaluated in 17 species/strains of bacteria and fungi and displayed high antimicrobial activity against all test strains used in this study. Among them were antibiotic-resistant MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and VRE (vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus).
Results revealed strong fungicidal activity against yeasts, yeast-like fungi and dermatophytes. The strongest fungicidal activity of juniper berry was recorded against the candida virus symptoms and dermatophytes (a pathogenic fungus that grows on skin, mucous membranes, hair, nails and other body surfaces).
Juniper berry essential oil also has demonstrated benefits when it comes to digestive health. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Dairy Science tested the effects of feeding essential oils from garlic and juniper berry on feed intake, intestinal fermentation, digestion, microbial protein synthesis, milk production and immune status in dairy cows. While changes in milk production were not observed, researchers found that the cows given daily juniper and garlic supplementation experienced general improved digestion, possibly due to changes in the way protein was broken down prior to making it to the cows’ small intestines.
Juniper Berry Essential Oil Recipes
Here’s how you can start to use juniper berry essential oil at home:
- Aromatically: Juniper berry oil can be diffused throughout your home just like a scented candle or inhaled directly from the bottle. There’s a good deal of evidence showing that essential oils are absorbed into the bloodstream when inhaled because the large amount of blood vessels in the lungs absorb the oils and then circulate them throughout the body. The scent from juniper berry and other essential oils can also reach the brain quickly due to their fast-acting effects on the olfactory system.
- Topically: You should always first dilute juniper oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil in a 1:1 ratio before applying it directly to your skin. Use several drops of essential oil mixed with one to two teaspoons of coconut or jojoba oil, then massage it into any affected area. The oil penetrates your skin and passes into the bloodstream, then makes its way into different areas of the body for pain reduction and other therapeutic benefits.
- Internally: Juniper berry essential oil is FDA-recognized as safe for consumption (21CFR182.20). However, ingesting juniper essential oil is ONLY recommend when you use a very high-quality oil brand. How do you know if your oil is safe to consume? Look for therapeutic-grade oil that comes from the proper plant species and is grown in the indigenous region. Purchasing organic 100 percent pure oil is also important because this ensures it was grown without chemical pesticides or herbicides.
Keep in mind that a reputable brand might be slightly more expensive, but this means the plant was harvested at the peak time and extracted with the proper temperature and pressure to preserve the oil’s potent constituents. If you’re sure your oil is pure and high-quality, you can add a drop to water or take it as a dietary supplement, mixing it with raw honey or a smoothie.
Taken from my essential oils guide, here are several ways to use the oil in some simple DIY recipes:
Homemade Healing Bath Salts Recipe
This homemade healing bath salts recipe helps increase relaxation, relieves muscle pain, decreases stress and supports body detoxification. Rather than spend hundreds of dollars at the spa, try this amazing spa-like recipe in the comfort of your own home.
Total Time: 2 minutes
- 3 cups Epsom salts
- 1 cup baking soda
- water to fill bath (as hot as you can stand without burning yourself)
- 20 drops juniper berry essential oil
- 20 drops lavender essential oil
- large glass jar
- Combine dry ingredients and store in a closed container. At bath time, add 1 cup of dry ingredients and the lavender to the water.
- Soak for 20–40 minutes (the longer the better).
Interactions and Side Effects of Juniper Berry Essential Oil
Although it’s well-tolerated and unlikely to cause allergic reactions or side effects, it’s still important to always test for stomach and skin sensitivity prior to widespread use. As with any essential oil, especially one you’ve never tried before, excessive use can lead to sensitization and other effects if you ingest a high amount.
Juniper berries can be taken by most adults safely for up to four weeks. It’s discouraged to use them longer than that since they might put strain on the kidneys or liver after some time.
Because essential oils can act as a powerful form of natural medicine, there are a few instances where they are not recommended for usage. You should avoid using juniper berry oil if you have existing kidney or liver disease. Keep juniper oil away from your eyes, ears or inside your nose as well.
It’s considered safe for children and even pets, but might not be the best choice if you’re pregnant. While in most cases juniper is completely healthy, it can possibly affect hormones so it’s not recommended at this stage. Also speak with a doctor if you have very sensitive skin or are on hormonal medications that can interfere with essential oil use.
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