Juniper is an ancient, healing, aromatic herb that has multicultural usage over centuries. The essential oil has both anti-inflammatory and stimulating qualities. It is a remedy par excellence for chronic, subacute skin and urinary problems. I also use juniper for prostate problems. In Europe, juniper has multifaceted uses of a psychological and physical nature. The shrub is prevalent in the northern hemisphere, where every culture has discovered more medicinal uses than its ancestors.
Juniper is an evergreen shrub in Cypress family. In North America there are four varieties of small to medium size shrubs, usually round or conical shaped with bark that has a checkerboard appearance. Juniperus Monosperma, or Seed Juniper, grows in the West and Southwestern United States in rocky soil with Pinyon pine. This variety grows between 3,000 and 5,500 feet of elevation. Juniperus Communis grows in the temperate zone of North America and throughout Europe. The elevation is 8,000 feet and higher. Juniper deppeana, or Alligator juniper, grows between 4,500 to 8,000 foot elevation, often in canyons, along hillsides and drainage ditches. In America, it is native in West Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Juniper scopulorum, or Rocky mountain juniper, grows from Alberta, Canada to West Texas. It grows from sea level to 9,000 feet.
The berries make the best essential oil, although leaves and twigs may also be steam distilled. Juniper berries are specialized cones that usually need two seasons to mature. They have a sweet taste and vary from copper to blue in color. These berries are dried before distillation. Juniper essential oil smells fresh, green and herbaceous. The berries have a slightly sweeter scent than the twigs and leaves variety.
Although juniper is best known for flavoring gin, aromatherapists and herbalists appreciate its astringent, tonic, and detoxifying properties. It helps people who are more symptomatic in cold weather by stimulating an otherwise sluggish system. Juniper is often described as a blood purifier, eliminating toxic and metabolic waste from the body.
A unique property of juniper oil is its ability to remove uric acid buildup causing gout. Uric acid crystals can form in the toes and move up the legs or cause kidney stones. The following blends are a welcome relief.
Kidney Stone and Gout Blend
Prepare a footbath with 8 cups of very warm water. Add the following essential oils and mix well:
40 drops of Juniper
4 drops of Ginger root
10 drops of Cypress
2 drops of Pine
10 drops of Orange
Place one or both feet in the bath and soak for 15 to 30 minutes. Repeat daily to remove uric acid in the tissues.
Alternate: A warm compress can be made by dipping a clean towel in the essential oil “bath”. Wrap a towel around each foot, first wringing out the excess water. Keep the extra bath water covered and repeat the process every 10 minutes up to 30 minutes.
For Kidney stones, apply the compress across the low back, repeating the above process every 10 minutes.
Follow each treatment with a relaxing massage made with the following essential oils:
In 2 ounces of carrier oil add the following essential oils:
10 drops of Lavendula
6 drops of Juniper
2 drops of Lemongrass
3 drops of Sandalwood
Allow to cure overnight in a dark, glass bottle with a tight fitting screw cap. Warm the oil by setting the bottle inside a glass of hot water for 2 or 3 minutes. Apply warm to the feet, legs, knees and lower back, as desired, after a foot bath or compress to remove uric acid crystals.
Juniper is very beneficial in establishing endocrine balance. It helps restore the adrenals, energy production and blood sugar regulation. Combine juniper with stimulating essential oils.
In a tub of warm water, add the following essential oils and swish the water to mix well. I do not recommend this during pregnancy or for those who suffer from seizures.
10 drops of Rosemary
5 drops of Lime
6 drops of Juniper
1 drop of Cedarwood
Dry brush the limbs and skin before bathing. Soak for 15 minutes. Pat dry the skin.
Alternate: This blend can be added to 1 ounce of carrier oil, cured for at least 3 hours, and massaged onto the low back and abdomen. Rosemary and juniper are very invigorating and tonifying for the endocrine organs.
Juniper is specifically beneficial for those who have absent, scanty or painful menses. It blends well with marjoram and chamomile to relieve symptoms and reset the hypothalamus and limbic system. Rosewood is both calming and uplifting, safe for young teens and crohns, used as a base note in this blend.
Amennorhea and Painful Menses
In 2 ounces of carrier oil, add the following essential oils:
10 drops of Chamomile, Roman or German (blue)
10 drops of Juniper
10 drops of Marjoram
5 drops of Rosewood
Cure overnight in dark glass with a tight fitting screw cap. Begin massaging the abdomen daily 2 weeks before menses begins or daily when menses is absent. For painful menses, massage the abdomen and low back 2 or 3 times daily. Add 2 drops of clove essential oil as an additional pain reliever. Stop using this blend if heavy menses occurs. If pregnancy is a possibility, see your physician before using this blend.
Juniper is very effective for clogged pores, acne and blackheads. The easiest application is a facial steam.
In 4 cups of steaming hot water, add 5 drops of Juniper essential oil. Tent with a clean towel, tying any loose hair away from the face. Allow the steam to open and clean the pores for 3 to 5 minutes. Move away from the steam if the face becomes uncomfortably hot. Rinse with lukewarm, then cool water, and pat dry. Use the remaining juniper water to clean the face and neck later in the day or early the next morning.
In England, essential oils are researched for physological health. Juniper has a pleasantly stimulating effect on shy or aloof personalities. Those who use it are more affectionate and friendlier. Overall, it encourages an optimistic attitude.
Although Juniper is avoided internally during pregnancy, it is used in aromatherapy without miscarriage. The variety used is distilled from Juniperus communis. The dilution is 2 drops in every 100 drops of carrier oil, a 2% dilution. I do not consider it safe when used in larger doses, or combined with chamomile, marjoram or essential oils that bring on menses, emmenogogues.
For more information:
Essential oil Safety, Robert Tisserand and Tony Balacs; Churchhill Livingstone Press, 1995.