Juniper Essential Oil: Therapeutic Properties, Uses and Side-Effects

Juniperus communis

The common juniper is one of the most common juniper coniferous tree species, and the botanical name is Juniperus communis. The oil is extracted from the berries, thorns and wood. The berry extract has more therapeutic benefits than the extract from the tree’s wood and needles. It is used to treat various conditions such as dermatitis, arthritis, psoriasis, eczema and rheumatism. It is also used in aromatherapy to help strengthen the nervous system.


With a height of up to 30 feet, the common juniper is an evergreen coniferous shrub with small yellow flowers and blue-green colored needles. The berry is blue or black in color. The shrub can be commonly found in several regions including Siberia, Canada, Scandinavia, northern Europe and northern Asia. In ancient times, juniper berries were used as herbal remedies to treat diseases like cholera and typhoid. In medieval France, the tree was burnt to “cleanse” the air from disease-causing germs. In the 11th century, juniper berries were used in certain herbal remedies by Italian monks to tackle the dangers of the bubonic plague.

Benefits and Uses

Juniper berry is known to possess a wide array of therapeutic properties, including astringent, stimulating, anti-rheumatic, antispasmodic, diuretic and carminative properties. Juniper essential oil is one of the most important essential oils in aromatherapy and is known to relieve stress, nervous tension, anxiety and mental fatigue.

Juniper extracts are very useful for kidney stones and cystitis patients having difficulty passing urine. It is beneficial for people suffering from upset stomach and bloating. It helps to eliminate uric acid and therefore relieves pain from arthritis and gout. Juniper berry essential oil is excellent for different skin conditions such as dandruff, psoriasis and weeping eczema.

Extraction Procedure

Juniper oil is usually extracted from the berries. The oil extracted from berries is far more superior to that from the wood and needles. Major countries that produce the oil are Canada, Spain, Italy and Austria.

The oil is pale with a woody aroma. The extraction process involves steam distillation of dried and crushed juniper berries. The distillation process produces 0.2 percent to 2 percent extract.

Side Effects and Precautions

The juniper berry is designated as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the American Food and Drug Administration. However, for the right doses of juniper berry oil, you should consult your aromatherapy expert.

It is always recommended to use the oil with caution as overdose may lead to skin damage and kidney problems. There are also chances of hypertension, irritation and liver toxicity. Before consuming juniper essential oil orally, always consult your doctor or aromatherapist.

Patients suffering from diabetes and low blood sugar should use juniper extracts with caution as they are known to affect blood sugar levels. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not consume the oil because it can lead to abortion. For topical purposes, consult your aromatherapist.


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