Juniper Essential Oil
Juniper has a fresh, woody smell, reminiscent of pine.
It is known for its anti-rheumatic, anti-inflammatory, decongestant, analgesic, diuretic, anti-infectious, and astringent qualities. However, there are many varieties of juniper so it is good to learn about some of the differences. There are about 60 different species of juniper and their environments, appearances, aromas and chemistry vary greatly. While there is a great deal of overlap in the therapeutic uses of these oils, I will attempt here to highlight some of their differences and to demystify some of the confusion whether with this oil can be used during pregnancy and for people with kidney problems.
Always look for the Latin name on any bottle of essential oil you buy, as the properties, and therefore the benefits each oil offers differ with each species. The Juniperus osteosperma – also known as Utah Juniper – comes from Utah (no surprises there!) and Arizona. You may see Rocky Mountain Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) – also from Arizona and Utah – and although very similar, it is still good to know what you are buying, and where it is sourced from. This one is often called Mountain Juniper.
Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma)
This juniper contains Borneol and Terpinene-4-ol, and has a warm, spicy, long lasting aroma, which increases in sweetness and complexity as it ages. It is mucolytic, anti-tussive (something used to prevent or relieve a cough), immune stimulating, anti-inflammatory, and anti-infectious. Perfect for a head and chest cold. Dilute with a carrier oil and massage into shoulders, neck and chest or the soles of the feet. Juniperus osteosperma should be avoided by those with a sensitivity to camphor.
Here is a great picture (the one on the right) of a Utah Juniper tree. The Young Living juniper I use, uses mostly the bark of the tree to distill into oil, and here is a picture of me sitting on a small mountain of juniper chips ready for distilling (September, 2017, Utah). I was very fortunate to receive a bottle of this particular Juniper, after seeing it distilled!! A wonderful experience.
According to Roberta Wilson, ‘During biblical times juniper was often used to banish evil spirits’. Also, during Medieval times, ‘bundles of juniper berries were hung over doors to ward off witches, and burning juniper wood supposedly deterred demons’.
Over the centuries, juniper has been used for physical and spiritual purification, for cleansing infections and healing wounds, for liver complaints, for embalming, for relieving arthritis and urinary tract infections, for warding off plagues, epidemics, and contagious diseases, and for headaches, kidney and bladder problems, pulmonary infection and fevers.
Rocky Mountain Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum)
This juniper is also known as Weeping Juniper and as mentioned above, Mountain Juniper, for it’s soft branches that hang down. The aroma has minor citrus overtones and is anti-rheumatic, anti-arthritic, and analgesic. This species has only a trace amount of camphor and is an excellent choice to dilute and apply topically for joint pain and stiffness.
Beneficial or harmful to the kidneys? and Use in Pregnancy or avoid?
According to Robert Tisserand’s book, there is no good reason to back up the claim that common juniper berry essential oil (Juniperus communis) is harmful to kidneys or that it’s dangerous during pregnancy. In fact, these claims are probably due to a long-running confusion between common juniper berry (Juniperus communis) and another essential oil, Savin (Juniperus sabina).
Mind, Spirit and Body uses for Juniper Essential Oil
- Juniper is a diuretic so is great for people with fluid retention.
- A good oil to use in aromatherapy massage to help the fight against cellulite.
- Can be useful for treating cystitis.
- It stimulates the appetite…..this is why gin (which is flavoured with juniper) & tonic is such a good aperitif!
- Useful in remedies for urinary tract infections.
- Use juniper oil blended with lavender for a detoxifying bath – mix with a carrier oil or milk before adding to the bath.
- Beneficial for people that are worried or anxious.
- Useful for helping ease rheumatism and gout, due to its purifying and diuretic properties.
- Excellent for indigestion, colic and wind!
- Its antiseptic qualities make it useful for of cuts, sores and wounds.
This short article is just the tip of the iceberg when learning about juniper essential oil. Do your homework before buying, and buy from a reputable supplier or someone you know and trust! 🙂
References: Phibee Aromatics, Reference Guide for Essential Oils, The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple by Dr. David Stewart. Wikipedia