Latin Name: Juniperus communis
Extraction Method: Steam distilled from the ripe berries.
Aroma: Balsamic, Fresh, Piney, Bittersweet and woody
Juniper is a small tree of the cupressaceae family which is named after genièvre. Genièvre is French for juniper berry. This prickly evergreen scrub can reach heights of 39 feet. Juniper berry has blue-green needle like leaves, greenish-yellow flowers and small berries. It takes the berries two years to turn from blue to black. These ripe berries offer the highest quality oils and have greater therapeutic value. Juniper is native to Northern Europe, North America and Southwest Asia. You will find it growing in coniferous forests, mountain slopes and moorlands.
It is said that Juniper may have been one of the very first plants to be used by humankind. In fact, remains for the berries have been located at prehistoric dwelling sites in the Swiss lakes. It was commonly burnt as a fumigant and ritual incense by the Ancient Greeks to combat epidemics and by the Tibetans and Native Americans for ceremonial purposes due to its aromatic antiseptic quality.
Juniper is both a lymphatic decongestant and a diuretic. Juniper oil's diuretic property is coupled with a strengthening effect on spleen-pancreas making it one of the most powerful of aromatic decongestants. It's reputation is known for relieving inflammation, fluid retention and cystitis. Combined with Frankincense its astringent properties are beneficial for the external treatment of hemorrhoids. But one of the most important actions of Juniper is that of a detoxifier. It may be one of the most valuable oils in situations where the body needs to eliminate toxic waste. Juniper's properties may benefit chronic tiredness, cold hands and feet, edema and lower back aches. As a liniment, juniper warms an area by increasing peripheral blood circulation making it rubefacient.
Juniper has also been used for skin conditions such as eczema, acne, dandruff, dermatitis, boils, insect bites and bacterial infections. It has been cited to help with conditions such as varicose veins and cellulite. As stated in "Aromatherapy A-Z" Juniper should be considered if any skin conditions are slow to heal, but one should keep in mind that Juniper will stimulate the body into throwing off toxic residues. This will make the skin appear worse before it begins to improve.
The cleansing nature of Juniper works on the mental plane as well as the physical. Juniper is a psychically purifying oil. It is especially useful for individuals that are exposed to contact with people in their course of work that are emotionally draining. Juniper works, therefore, to break through psychological stagnation and bring about will-power. It also helps to cleanse an individual from worry and self-absorption that is rooted in a fear of failure. It aids in restoring one's determination to overcome life's obstacles.
I have made several blends utilizing juniper essential oils to support emotional concerns and after researching the history of the energetics; it gives one a deeper understanding of why this is such a great oil to address emotional issues.
Davis P. Aromatherapy an A-Z. New revised edition C.W. Daniel Company Limited, England, 1999
Keville, K and Green, M. Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide To The Healing Art, Crossing Press, Second Edition, 2009
Mojay, G. Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit, The Healing Arts Press edition, Limited 1999
*Please note: This information is not to replace physician advice or to be used as treatment or diagnose of a disease.
*Image courtesy of Jade Shutes/EWSAS (www.theida.com)