Juniper is a fragrant plant that is most well-known for its use in the production of gin. The plant extracts can also be distilled into a pungent essential oil that is renowned for its calming properties. The scent is one-of-a-kind and sure to catch your attention. Learn about the health benefits and uses of juniper berry essential oil right here.
What Is Juniper Berry Essential Oil?
Juniper oil is derived from the berry and needle plant parts of the juniper plant known by the botanical name Juniperus communis. The juniper plant is native to Europe and belongs to the Cupressaceae family, which also includes conifers and cypress trees. The berries of the plants are actually considered cones and feature a distinctive flavor and aroma.
Juniper essential oil is extracted from fresh cones, dried cones, or the needles of the plant through a process of steam distillation. The oil has hints of citrus and pine with resin undertones. The scent of juniper is pungent with notes of black pepper, camphor, and pine.
The flavor and aroma can mainly be attributed to the high concentration of alpha-pinene. This essential oil blends well with citrus oils such as wild orange oil and lemon oil. It also pairs well with fir needle oils such as white fir essential oil and spice oils like clary sage oil.
Juniper Berry Essential Oil Uses & Health Benefits
Research shows that juniper berry essential oil boasts antibacterial properties that may help to protect the body from infection (1). Native Americans also commonly used the plant as a skin salve to treat burns and wounds.
Additional research shows the plant boasts anti-inflammatory properties that may help to protect skin from inflammation and fibrosis. Research published in Cogent Medicine found that juniper oil components such as alpha-pinene work to modulate gene expression, inflammation, and wound healing in dermal fibroblasts (2).
The anti-inflammatory properties may also help to decrease the risk of oxidative stress, which can lead to a breakdown in collagen and skin elasticity. This breakdown is most commonly caused by free radicals — reactive cells that attached to healthy cells and disrupt natural processes (3).
Juniper berry essential oil is popular in aromatherapy thanks to its calming effects and soothing aroma. Adding a few drops of juniper berry essential oil to a diffuser and relaxing in a comfy spot can help to relieve anxiety and improve mood.
A study published in the International Journal of Aromatherapy examined the effects of essential oils on sleep in 42 human participants. Researchers found that juniper oil combined with other oils like sandalwood and rose helped to decrease dependence on prescription sleep aids when inhaled regularly before bed (4).
The oil can also be used as a massage oil to help induce relaxation. Just combine a few drops of juniper oil with carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil and rub gently in slow circles. Apply directly to sore muscles or areas where you carry tension for the best results.
Juniper oil helps to streamline digestion by encouraging the production of digestive enzymes. These enzymes work to break down food and help the body better absorb nutrients during digestion. The antibacterial properties of this oil may also help to lower the risk of liver disease and kidney disease.
An animal study published in the Journal of Dairy Science found that juniper oil and garlic oil helped cows digest food more efficiently compared to placebo (5). These benefits have not been replicated in human studies and more research is needed to establish the use of juniper oil in digestion.
Urinary Tract Infections
Juniper oil contains antibacterial and antifungal properties that may help to treat urinary tract infections and bladder diseases. Research shows that volatile oils in juniper work to increase kidney filtration. The plant boasts diuretic effects that can help to eliminate bacteria and harmful substances that cause infection (6).
Side Effects of Juniper Berry Essential Oil
Juniper berry essential oil — like many essential oils — may cause skin irritation when applied topically. Always apply essential oils using a carrier oil such as coconut oil, jojoba oil, or olive oil. Test new essential oils on a small patch of skin before applying liberally. Wait 24 hours to ensure you don’t have a negative reaction to the oil.
Some animal research has shown a higher risk of miscarriage in rats that are given juniper berry oil. Pregnant women should avoid using this oil out of an abundance of caution until more research in humans is completed.
The Food and Drug Administration does not recognize the use of juniper oil in the treatment of disease or health conditions. Consult a healthcare professional before using juniper oil. The oil may interact with certain medications or cause complications for people with health problems. Always use therapeutic grade essential oils during aromatherapy to avoid adverse effects caused by chemicals and additives.
Just Relax With Juniper Berry Essential Oil
Juniper berry oil offers a piney and citrusy aroma that can help invigorate your mind and soothe your soul. Use juniper oil to boost relaxation or apply it to skin to soothe sore muscles and aid healing.