Juniper berry essential oil comes from the fresh or dried berries and needles of the Juniperus osteosperma and J. scopulorus plant species. Known as a powerful detoxifier and immune system booster, juniper berry plants originate from Bulgaria and have a long history of naturally helping prevent both short- and long-term illnesses.
Juniper berries themselves are high in flavonoid and polyphenol antioxidants that have strong free radical scavenging abilities. (1) Because they were seen as protectors of health — both emotional and physical health — during the Medieval period, juniper berries were believed to help ward off witches. In fact, for years French hospital wards burned juniper and rosemary to help protect patients against lingering bacteria and infections.
Juniper Berry Essential Oil Benefits
Today, juniper berry essential oil (called Juniperi aetheroleum in most research studies) is most commonly used in natural remedies for sore throat and respiratory infections, fatigue, muscle aches and arthritis. It can also help soothe skin flair-ups, boost the immune system, help with insomnia and aid with digestion.
Research shows juniper berry essential oil contains over 87 different active constituent compounds, including strong antioxidants, antibacterials and antifungals. (2) With a sweet, woodsy smell (some people say it’s similar to balsamic vinegar), this oil is a popular addition to household cleaning products, aromatherapy blends and fragrance sprays.
11 Uses for Juniper Berry Essential Oil
1. Can Relieve Bloating
Juniper berries have both antibacterial and antifungal properties. (3, 4) One of the most popular homeopathic uses for juniper berries is using them to prevent or naturally remedy urinary tract infections and bladder infections.
The berries are also a natural diuretic, which helps the body flush out excess fluids from the bladder and urethra. (5) This has the potential to reduce bloating. This is especially effective when combined with other antibacterial and diuretic foods, including cranberries, fennel and dandelion.
2. May Help Heal and Protect Skin
With natural antibacterial and antimicrobial abilities, juniper berry essential oil is one of the most popular natural remedies for fighting skin irritations (like rash or eczema) and infections. (6) It can serve as a home remedy for acne and supports beautiful skin, reducing stretch marks and helping heal conditions caused by hormone imbalances.
Use 1 to 2 drops mixed with a carrier oil as a gentle astringent or moisturizer after washing your face. You can also add some to your shower to help fight back or treat blemishes and foot odors and fungus.
3. Boosts Digestion
Juniper can help stimulate digestive enzymes and make it easier to break down and absorb protein, fats and nutrients from foods. This is because it is a “bitter.” Bitters are herbs that begin the digestive process. (7) However, this has not been tested thoroughly on humans. But it has proven to hold true in at least one animal study, in which cows had significantly improved digestion when given garlic and juniper berry essential oils. (8)
For a natural digestive aid or liver cleanse, you can try taking juniper oil as a dietary supplement by adding 1 to 2 drops to a smoothie or water (but only do this if you’re sure you have 100 percent pure therapeutic-grade oil). You may want to consult with your natural health care provider first.
4. Relaxant and Sleep Aid
The smell of juniper berries offersemotional support and reduce physical and emotional signs of stress. Considered in folklore as a natural anxiety remedy, some sources claim it’s one of the most effective essential oils for dealing with inner trauma and pain because juniper may have positive effects on relaxation responses in the brain when inhaled.
One study tested an essential oil fragrance that combined juniper berry essential oil with sandalwood, rose and orris. Examining its effect on insomniacs who were taking medication for their condition, researchers found that 26 of the 29 subjects were able to reduce their drug dosage when using the essential oil fragrance at night. Twelve subjects were able to eliminate medications altogether. (9)
Use juniper berry essential oil at home by diffusing it throughout your bedroom, dabbing some on your wrists (diluted with a carrier oil) or clothes for an uplifting perfume, or adding several drops to your laundry detergent mix so the smell lingers on your clothes and linens. You can also add a few drops directly to a bath or my homemade healing bath salts recipe for a relaxing, healing soak.
5. Heartburn and Acid Reflex Relief
Another traditional use of juniper berry essential oil is to treat heartburn and acid reflux. (10) To soothe indigestion symptoms like acid reflux, massage 1 to 2 drops of juniper berry oil blended with coconut oil over the entire stomach, abdomen and chest, or consider taking it internally. However, consult with your natural health care provider before ingesting it.
6. Might Reduce Cellulite
7. Insect Repellent
Just like citronella oil, the scent of juniper berry might naturally repels bugs. Spray it on your clothes, mix it with a carrier oil and massage into your skin, or diffuse it indoors and outdoors to purify the air and help prevent bug bites. You can even make your own homemade bug spray.
8. Natural Antiseptic
Whether you’re looking for a better household cleaner or a natural antiseptic for skin or respiratory infections, juniper berry essential oil may be one answer. Its antimicrobial properties help to kill bacteria and provide what could be a potent treatment for simple infections. (13)
Some studies suggest this oil might be effective against bacteria and fungi that are resistant to antibiotics. (14) Juniper berry essential oil has the strongest anti-fungal reaction against the bacteria that causes candida. (15)
To help prevent or reduce bacterial strains from spreading within your home, use juniper berry oil on kitchen and bathroom surfaces or appliances. When diffused indoors, it absorbs odors from your home while also purifying the air your family breathes. Run several drops through your washing machine or dishwasher, and replace commercial cleaning products — which usually contain multiple harsh chemicals — with natural antibacterial juniper oil mixed with water.
9. Powerful Antioxidant
One reason juniper berry essential oil may function in so many different ways is because it contains antioxidants that help to slow age-related degradation, such as skin problems, as well as prevent disease. (16, 17)
In particular, animal studies have found that this oil increases the activity of three very important antioxidants in the body: superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase and glutathione peroxidase. (18) All three of these have huge health benefits. In fact, glutathione peroxidase is associated with prevention and development of diseases like cancer and heart disease. (19)
This could be why juniper berry essential oil has shown anticancer effects against certain leukemia cells in lab tests. (20)
10. Might Help Reduce High Blood Pressure
Correlated with its antioxidant activity, juniper berry essential oil might be one natural way to reduce high blood pressure. (21) Hypertension is quite manageable with diet and lifestyle changes, such as diffusing heart-healthy essential oils like juniper berry. However, if left untreated, it can lead to heart disease and various other conditions.
11. Flavor Enhancer and Natural Preservative
Did you know that juniper berries are one of the key ingredients used to make gin? Their taste is also added to other foods, including some drinks, bitters, sauces, marinades and even sauerkraut recipes. In addition to adding a unique sweet flavor to foods, juniper berries act like a preservative since they keep away bacteria.
How to Use Juniper Berry Essential Oil
Here’s how you can start to use juniper berry essential oil at home:
- Aromatically: Juniper berry oil can be diffused throughout your home just like a scented candle or inhaled directly from the bottle. There’s a good deal of evidence showing that essential oils absorbed into bloodstream when inhaled because the large amount of blood vessels in the lungs absorb the oils and then circulate them throughout the body. The scent from juniper berry and other essential oils can also reach the brain quickly due to their fast-acting effects on the olfactory system.
- Topically: You should always first dilute juniper oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil in a 1:1 ratio before applying it directly to your skin. Mix several drops of essential oil mixed with 1 to 2 teaspoons of coconut or jojoba oil. Then massage it into any affected area. The oil penetrates your skin and passes into the bloodstream. Then it makes its way into different areas of the body for pain reduction and other therapeutic benefits.
- Internally: Juniper berry essential oil is FDA-recognized as safe for consumption (22). However, ONLY ingest juniper essential oil when you use a very high-quality oil brand. How do you know if your oil is safe to consume? Look for therapeutic-grade oil from the proper plant species that is grown in the indigenous region. It’s important to purchase organic 100 percent pure oil because this ensures it was grown without chemical pesticides or herbicides.
Keep in mind that a reputable brand might be slightly more expensive. But this means the plant was harvested at the peak time and extracted with the proper temperature and pressure to preserve the oil’s potent constituents. If you’re sure your oil is pure and high-quality, you can add a drop to water or take it as a dietary supplement, mixing it with raw honey or adding it to a smoothie. But, it’s also best to consult with your natural health care provider first before ingesting juniper berry oil.
Interactions and Side Effects of Juniper Berry Essential Oil
Although juniper essential oil is well-tolerated and unlikely to cause allergic reactions or side effects, it’s still important to always test for stomach and skin sensitivity prior to widespread use. As with any essential oil, especially one you’ve never tried before, excessive use can lead to allergic sensitization and other effects if you use a high amount.
Juniper berries can be taken by most adults safely for up to four weeks. It’s not recommended to use them longer than that since they might put strain on the kidneys or liver after some time.
Because essential oils can act as a powerful form of natural medicine, there are a few instances where they are not recommended for usage. You should avoid using juniper berry oil if you have existing kidney or liver disease. Also, keep juniper oil away from your eyes, ears or inside your nose.
It’s generally considered safe for children and even pets. But use it with caution and speak to your natural health care provider first. You should not use it if you’re pregnant or nursing. While in most cases juniper will not cause adverse reactions, it can possibly affect hormones. Also speak with a doctor if you have very sensitive skin or are on hormonal medications that can interfere with essential oil use.
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