Juniper berry

Juniper berry (Juniperus communis)

Today I’m writing about Juniper berry essential oil (Juniperus communis) grown naturally in the north, particularly Siberia, Canada and Scandinavia. Maybe this is why I think of Juniper as a winter plant, with it’s berries used in cooking at Christmas, or decorating wreaths, maybe it’s because it is a warming oil with it’s fresh, woody resinous aroma.

There is legend that the Juniper tree protected Mary, Joseph and infant Jesus from King Herod’s soldiers. It’s lovely to put into a burner or diffuser this time of year with Lavender, Rosemary, Ginger or Frankincense, or use in massage to warm the muscles.

Juniper detoxifies, it helps clean out the body and mind of excesses, of stress, exhaustion, tension. It is what we call an adaptogenic (see glossary) oil in that can relax and stimulate. For example, it is a diuretic so will help with fluid retention and cellulite. Studies with rats demonstrated weight suppression so could be used (with Grapefruit) to support weight loss. It is an abortifacient, it stimulates the uterus so should never be used in pregnancy however, it us useful for women and girls who experience PMS bloating, missed or irregular periods. It’s detoxifying properties are good for the skin too, unblocking pores, acne, dermatitis and eczema. It is antiseptic and antispasmodic due to it’s chemical make-up of alcohols and terpenes, extended practice demonstrates wound healing actions.

Traditionally, Juniper has been used in rituals, blessings, thought to drive away evil and protect our souls. However, more often than not these days, the only spirit it may be used for is gin!

A word of caution here, Juniper should not be used on those with kidney disease or on those who have suffered nephritis as prolonged use can irritate the kidney’s. Do not use in pregnancy. Make sure your oil is extracted from the berries (cheaper version are from the needles and wood), always buy oils displaying the Latin name.

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