Juniper oil Health Benefits, Uses, Quality & Best Products Compared

Author: Dr. Michael Tyler
Date: 01.10.2020
Reading time: 8:1 min

The "common juniper" (Juniperus communis, common name: Kranebittn, fire tree) is one of two types of juniper native to Europe.

Name Juniper
Lat. Name Juniperus communis
Synonyms Juniperus
Origin Northern hemisphere
Price per 10ml 3,99

Essential oils can be extracted from its berries and leaves, which have a strong terpenic smell of conifers. Juniper oil is aromatic and bitter.

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Internal effect

The juniper has unique effects. It is a famous antioxidant and shown to be protective for the nervous system. It is thought to be helpful against diabetes, cholesterol and cancer, while proven to protect the liver and possess antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Pain-relief, mitigating inflammation and a serving as a diuretic (detoxing) are more if its powerful attributes.

Promotes digestion

The juniper stimulates the activity of the stomach lining and has been proven to accelerate ulcer healing in small mammals. It also relieves cramps of the stomach by reducing muscle spasms, and providing pain relief. Its antibacterial properties are also useful here - especially when symptoms are caused by overgrowth of unhealthy bugs of the gut.

For arthritis and gout

Regulating inflammation helps to minimise arthritis. Juniper has this effect, as proven by this 2016 study. Juniper also stimulates the blood flow to the kidneys, which allows them to better filter blood. Consequently, the uric acid level in the blood, which is responsible for gout, drops, which leads to a relief of the symptoms.  

For acid reflux

Heartburn is caused by excessive acidic gastric juice. This juice leaves the stomach and goes back up the oesophagus, effectively causing the burning sensation. Juniper have been proven to reduce the amount of stomach acid created - which can effectively alleviate the pain.  

For kidneys and urinary tract infections

Juniper oil has many biologically effective agents. Above all, the high content of terpinol-4-ol is proven to increase urine output (diuresis). Further, its antibiotic effects may be helpful in clearing these infections. However more recent studies prove that long term use of the oil may negatively effect the urinary tract. Therefore, prolonged use is not recommended for Urinary Tract Infections.  

Oral health

Juniper has been used for centuries for oral health. Its bitter berries were chewed for tooth ache and gingivitis. Its essential oils is thought to relieve oral pain, and reduce the inflammation of the mouth and protect against harmful bacteria. Juniper oil prevents the unpleasant odour that is created in the mouth when food is broken down by bacteria.

For respiratory diseases

The camphor content in juniper oil has a positive influence on a variety of respiratory diseases. Camphor helps clear the airways, and stimulates blood circulation, reducing symptoms. Furthermore, the antibiotic properties of Juniper oil target the root of the problem.

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For flatulence

Flatulence occurs naturally from the intestine with decomposition of nutrients by certain bacteria. This decomposition produces methane, among other things. If there are more of certain bacteria in the intestinal fauna, it leads to flatulence. The bactericidal effect of juniper oil regulates the intestinal fauna and reduces flatulence.

 

Detoxing

The popular naturopathic researcher and pastor Sebastian Kneipp describes a detox therapy with juniper. At least 2 litres of juniper tea should be drunk daily. It should be noted that the cure does not last longer than 6 weeks so as not to affect the kidney function. Additionally, it also provides protection to the liver, which is the primary organ for toxin breakdown in the body.

Side effects

The juniper berries are said to have a very slight toxic effect. In the event of a severe overdose, this can lead to kidney damage, skin irritation and liver damage. Damage from an overdose of juniper, however, is only to be feared in the event of a severe overdose over a longer period of time.

The consumption of juniper is not recommended if you have kidney problems, nor during pregnancy - as it may increase the chances of abortion.

Application

The juniper is used in many different ways. With its large amount of biologically active ingredients, it is widely used in naturopathy. It has also always been a popular spice. In European countries, it is traditionally used for meaty dishes of game and wildlife. It used to be an ingredient of mulled wine. In Scandinavia, juniper is traditionally used to preserve and flavour beer to this day.

Additionally many schnapps, such as gin, is given its unique taste with Juniper. It is often used as an ornamental shrub, for which numerous garden varieties have been bred. Its wood is used in handicrafts for turning and carving. Juniper oil is used to purify the air. In spiritual circles, the smoke from burned juniper berries is said to drive away evil spirits and energies.

If you use juniper oil externally - i.e. skin application - then never do so undiluted, as juniper oil has an irritating effect. For external use, add 3-5 drops of juniper oil to about 10 ml of a carrier oil (e.g. sesame oil) and then apply it. For use against ailments of the digestive tract, you can put a few drops of juniper oil on a block of sugar and then consume it.

However, consumption should not be carried out more than 3 times a day and not for longer than 6 weeks - in order to prevent kidney damage. A hot bath with juniper oil can be helpful for joint or muscle problems. Simply add a few drops of juniper oil to the bath water. Be careful not to use too much so as not to irritate the skin. Juniper oil is also said to have an air-purifying effect. If you use juniper oil as an essential oil to improve the room climate, you can heat the oil classically in an aroma lamp. 

Manufacturing

Two different types of oil can be obtained from juniper: On the one hand, the juniper tar oil from the wood of the juniper bush and, on the other hand, the juniper berry oil from the berries of the juniper. The juniper berry oil is obtained by means of steam distillation. However, the yield is only 0.8-2% of the dry weight of the berries. This means that from 1 kg of dried juniper berries you can only get 8-20ml of juniper berry oil. This makes the oil an extremely valuable raw material.

Storage

Always store juniper oil in a cool, dark place out of the reach of children. If the oil solidifies when stored cold, this is no indication of loss of quality. On the contrary - pure and high-quality oils tend to solidify at lower temperatures. Just warm the oil slightly and you will see that it liquefies again immediately. You can then continue to use it as before.

Chemical composition

Terpineols are fragrances. You will find them used in soaps and perfumes. Most often a mixture of α- and γ-terpineol is used for an intense lilac scent.

Sabinen is used, among other things, for the superficial treatment of skin warts. Used internally in high doses, it can lead to nausea and vomiting up to and including renal insufficiency. In severe cases, even internal bleeding, which can manifest with red stool and urine.

Myrcene is used to produce fragrances and flavours that are used in perfumery and pharmacy.

Flavonoids are used therapeutically: as venous agents with their vascular protective effects, and as a cardiovascular agent because of their positive inotropic, antihypertensive effect, and as a diuretic (drug that increases water flow through the kidneys).

Limonene is a natural substance from the terpene group. It can be found in limes and lemons. Today it is a classic fragrance that is often used in cleaning agents.

Terpinen-4-ol is used in flavouring and perfume industries. Adding terpinen-4-ol creates an intense lilac scent.

Borneol is a strong odorous substance that is mainly used in the perfume industry.

Betulin has anti-inflammatory properties. It is also being investigated as a treatment option for malaria, tumors, and HIV.

Linolenic acid is an essential nutrient that is required for the formation of omega-3 fatty acids. It also plays an important role in inflammatory processes.  

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History

The juniper has always played an important role in pan-European culture. There is evidence that juniper was known throughout Europe in ancient times. It was firmly anchored in mythology. For the Romans and the Greeks, juniper was a central culinary spice. The ancient Teutons used its smoke to ward off evil spirits. In the Middle Ages, the plague was supposed to be driven away by burning juniper branches. It was used to smoke out houses and apartments. In early Christian times, churches smoked juniper instead of incense. Its germicidal effect was said to protect against demons, diseases and plagues. On Christmas days, twigs were tied over the stable doors to keep witches away.   

Botany

With its 7000 subspecies, the juniper is the most widespread conifer in the world. The distribution area of the "common juniper" extends from North America to South Greenland, North Africa, Europe and Asia. It can even be found in the northernmost outskirts of South Asia and, with its seven variants, colonizes habitats up to an altitude of over 4,000 m. It grows as an upright or creeping shrub that reaches heights of up to 12 meters and a trunk diameter of approx. 0.9 meters. The juniper is a so-called deep root, which makes it effective against soil erosion. It can live for up to 600 years. The trunk has a grey to reddish brown bark. The juniper is often found on sunny, rough pastures, on rocks and in sparse forests. It prefers dry, mostly base-rich, often calcareous soils.

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