Juniper Berry essential oil is steam distilled from the ripe berries of the juniper shrub. Known for its ability to treat colds, flu and general inflammation, it is also used topically as an antiseptic or in cosmetic preparations. Juniper exudes a medium-strength middle fragrance note that is familiar, fresh, sweet, slightly fruity, balsamic, woody and coniferous, presenting as a colorless or slightly green liquid. There are more than 87 active chemical components in juniper berry essential oil that provide therapeutic benefits, including sabinene, a-pinene, and myrcene, with limonene, r-cymene, g-terpinene, b-pinene, a-thujene, and camphene to a lesser degree. Small amounts of the sesquiterpenes, oxides and some esters are also present, including linalool, linalyl acetate and nerol. Juniper is cultivated all over the northern hemisphere, but the highest quality juniper berries for essential oils are coming from Italy, Austria, Sweden and Canada.
You may already be familiar with the smell and flavors of juniper, as it is the primary ingredient in most gin. Its versatility in the culinary realm is prized by top chefs, who use it for marinades, rubs and to flavor all manner of meat as well as baked goods, candy and ice creams.
Its use in medicine dates back to ancient Egypt and Tibet, where it was used to treat tapeworms, cholera, typhoid fever and the plague. In medieval times, it was widely thought to be able to ward off evil and keep witches at bay. In Mongolia, it was given to pregnant women to induce labor, and in some Eastern European cultures it was considered a cure-all. The French burned it in their hospitals to purify the air. Other cultures in history used it to treat urinary tract, kidney and respiratory infections, and Native American cultures made tonics to treat colds and flu as well as arthritis and muscle aches. It remains in the British Herbal Pharmacopeia to the present day.
Berries are harvested when ripe, a process that can take up to three years. It is easy to recognize ripe juniper berries, as when juvenile, they have a distinctive white flor on the surface, a feature they lose once fully ripe. After harvest, the berries are dried slowly in the shade, with great care taken to avoid fermentation. Essential oils can be made from the needles of the juniper shrub as well, and you may notice that these are much less expensive. However, these examples have a much harsher, pine-like aroma, and – unlike the delicate sweet fruitiness of the essential oil distilled from the berries.
Juniper berry essential oil has a wide range of therapeutic applications. Its high levels of antioxidants make it an excellent addition to any healthful course of aromatherapy treatment.
Some of its uses include:
Perfumery/cosmetics: often found in men’s cosmetic preparations and fragrance, where it imparts a woodsy, resinous scent.
Treat urinary tract infections: stimulates urine production and can help to eliminate bacteria in the urinary tract.
Relieve skin irritations: relieves minor to severe skin irritations, reduces inflammation on the surface of the skin and heals infection.
Digestive aid: stimulates the production of digestive enzymes, which help to break down food more quickly and regulate the digestive process.
Anxiety: its uplifting, invigorating scent instantly lifts the mood.
Depression: relaxes the mind and body and helps to clear negative energy.
Stimulates libido: stimulates blood flow and feelings of happiness, which could help break the ice in intimate situations.
Stomach maladies: aids in digestion, which may help to ease stomach cramps and pain.
Insect repellant: on the body or in the air, repels all manner of flying insects.
Detoxification: helps to flush the system of toxins through urinary pathways.
Antiseptic: used topically to draw infectious fluids from boils, cystic acne and abscesses.
Anti-inflammatory/analgesic: used topically, it is thought to be effective in relieving the pain of arthritis, muscle or joint pain.
Headaches: relieves the symptoms of mild to severe headaches.
Skin tonic: an excellent tonic for some skin conditions, such as weeping eczema, acne and overly oily skin.
Prostate health: reduces prostate inflammation which may relieve urinary discomfort in men.
Cellulite treatment: rubbed into the affected area, helps to tighten the skin and release impurities that cause cellulite.
Diuretic: stimulates urine production, which can relieve water retention in the skin and body.
Cold, flu, pneumonia and congestion relief: vaporization can help loosen chest and sinus congestion, and ease the symptoms of seasonal cold and allergies.
Anti-parasitic: use to rid the body of parasites like tapeworms and other digestive parasites.
Some varieties of juniper berry (specifically Juniperus sabina) are thought to stimulate the uterine muscle, though this is not the variety used for essential oil production (Juniperus communis). However, if you are pregnant or think you may be, you may want to avoid it if you are unsure about the species of source. Similarly, if you have kidney disease, juniper berry essential oil should be avoided as the sabina species is a nephrotoxic – in other words, it can cause further damage to the kidneys, and may inhibit the elimination of urine and other body wastes. It can also cause severe skin irritation: heed all recommended dilution factors and test on a small area of skin to see how well you tolerate it. Undiluted internal use of essential oils is never advised unless you are under the direct supervision of a practitioner who is qualified in aromatherapy.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using this product.
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