These notes were originally prepared for two
short CPD (Continuing Professional Development)
"essential oils refresher" sessions which I led for
Professional Aromatherapy Network in South Yorkshire. I would
be glad to lead such sessions for other groups, e.g.
local/regional IFPA or IFA branches.
For list of other essential oil profiles see
To buy juniper berry oil visit the ONLINE
Other Juniper species include J. Oxycedrus, which gives cade
oil, and savin (J. Sabina) which is toxic and should not be used
Origin Native to northern regions of Europe, Asia and
America. Main oil producers Italy, France, Yugoslavia, Austria,
Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain, Canada (1). Indian oil
is also available but that which I have smelt is different –
much more powerful – possibly not rectified after distillation?
Extraction Steam distillation of berries. An inferior oil
is distilled from the needles and wood.
History The berries are used to flavour gin – another
name for which was geneva, from the French “genièvre”, meaning
juniper. Used for a “spring clean” in Central Europe. Used in
herbalism for gastro-intestinal infections, eliminating excess
water, rheumatic pains. Sprigs of juniper were burnt with
rosemary in French hospital wards to protect from infection (2).
Contra-indications Tisserand & Balacs (3) give no
contraindications. They dispute the common cautions to avoid
during pregnancy and for kidney problems, suggesting the first
is due to past confusion with savin oil. Although there is
evidence that juniper berries are abortifacient, they could find
no evidence that it is the oil which is responsible. Neither
could they find evidence of problems with kidney infections – my
herbal gives this caution (4), but again that is for internal
use of the berries or an infusion.
Chemistry Mainly monoterpenes. Mainly pinene, sabinene,
myrcene, with limonene, camphene; also borneol, terpinenol. (1,
Blending Suggestions Middle note. Basil, bergamot, black
pepper, black spruce, camomile Roman, caraway, citronella, clary
sage, cypress, eucalyptus, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, lime,
mandarin, marjoram, neroli, orange, peppermint, petitgrain,
pine, ravensara, rosemary, thyme.
Major Properties Antirheumatic, antiseptic,
antispasmodic, antitoxic, astringent, depurative, diuretic,
emmenagogue, nervine, parasiticide, rubefacient, ?sedative.
Uses Stress-related conditions, anxiety, nervous tension,
Arthritis, cellulitis, gout, haemorrhoids, muscular aches and
pains, rheumatism, toxin build-up.
Amenorrhea, cystitis, dysmenorrhea.
Bronchitis?, colds, flu?, lung infections.
Acne, dermatitis, eczema (especially weepy), oily skin, skin
Patricia Davis considers “the most important action of juniper
to be detoxification.” It “has a special affinity with the
urino-genital tract, being tonic, purifying, antiseptic and
stimulant. It is one of the best oils for treating cystitis,
pyelitis and urinary stones......Scanty or missing periods can
be treated with juniper in baths or in a massage oil used over
the abdomen.” She also uses it for canker and mange in dogs, and
to prevent fleas and ticks. She says the cleansing properties of
the oil also work on the mental/emotional plane. “It is a
psychically purifying oil, especially for those who are exposed
to contact with a large number of people in the course of their
work, or with few, but emotionally draining people.” (2)
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1) Julia Lawless, The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, Element,
2) Patricia Davis, Aromatherapy - An A-Z, C. W. Daniel, Saffron
Walden, 2000 ( revised ed.), pp. 170-2.
3) Robert Tisserand, & Tony Balacs, Essential Oil Safety,
Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, 1995, p.142.
4) The Herb Book, John Just, Bantam, 1974, p.243.
5) Shirley Price, The Aromatherapy Workbook, Thorsons, London,
1993, pp. 54-5.
Other sources for information, past and present; books,
articles and other material by Martin Watt (safety); Jean
Valnet, Patricia Davis/London School of Aromatherapy, Shirley
Price, Robert Tisserand, Valerie Ann Worwood, Jan Kusmirek.
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Paul Boizot. Information revised 20.3.04. Page
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My address from 30.04.12 is 14 Holly Bank Grove,
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contact me on: 01904
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