Juniper Berry Oil: Benefits, Uses, Properties, and Side Effects
From being a natural sleep aider to an immune booster and powerful detoxifier, the juniper berry oil benefits are abundant.
They are a rich source of polyphenol antioxidants and flavonoids and have incredible effects on your health.
The oil has multiple health benefits and has been used prominently for pain relief. Let’s understand its history, properties, uses, and much more in detail.
What Is Juniper Berry Oil?
Juniper essential oil is typically steam-distilled from its needles, twigs, berries, and wood. Juniper berry oil, on the other hand, is obtained only from its berries.
The essential oil extracted from its berries are considered to be superior in quality. It is a pale oil and has a watery viscosity with a slightly woody & fruity aroma. (1)
The FDA (Food & Drug Administration) reports juniper berry oil to be completely safe for medicinal uses. However, its usage all comes down to its quality. It is better to used high-quality juniper essential oil for safety purposes.
Essential oils can only be 100% pure they are free from pesticides, herbicides, and preservatives. You can apply juniper berry oil topically only after diluting it with a carrier oil like coconut oil in a 1:1 ratio.
About the plant:
Juniper is an angiosperm. Its tree can grow up to a height of 20 – 40 meters. It is a columnar and low spreading shrub, where the branches are usually long.
Juniper trees are evergreen with needle-like or scale-like leaves. They are either monoecious or dioecious.
The fruits are more like coalescing scales that fuse to form berry-like structures. These berries are usually 4-27 mm in length and have unwinged seeds with a hard shell.
Though juniper berries are usually blue and aromatic, a few species are orange or reddish brown.
Their male cones are little different in appearance than their female cones. These are similar to Cupressaceae and have 6 to 20 scales.
A few species of juniper bloom in autumn, while the maximum of its species blooms from early winters to late autumn.
Some juniper species consist of two types of leaves:
- Seedling leaves
- Needle-like leaves
Both are 25 mm long. The leaves of the mature plants are tiny, scale-like and overlapping.
Juveline foliage of mature plants is seen on shaded shoots and in full sunlight.
The leaves grow rapidly and are whip-shaped. Being a gymnosperm, the juniper do not have flowers and fruits. Seeds get mature within 1 to 3 years. The seed coat is impermeable and protects the embryo from getting dispersed.
Scientific Name Of Juniper Berry Oil
The botanical name of juniper berry is Juniper Chinensis L.
History Of Juniper Berry Oil
Juniper trees are known to have existed from the prehistoric era. They originated from Bulgaria and help in preventing both long-term and short-term illnesses.
During the ancient era, juniper berries were thought to ward off witches. For years and years, many French hospitals burned rosemary and juniper to help guard patients against infections and bacteria.
In America, people used juniper as a contraceptive. Nicholas Culpepper, an herbalist of the 17th century recommended juniper for asthma and sciatica pain. He also experimented with ripen juniper berries to speed up childbirth. (2)
On the other hand, people in Europe used juniper as an abortifacient (causes abortion). People from Navajo believed it to be a rich source of calcium.
It is found as the main ingredient of blue cornmeal. Navajo people used juniper berries for cooking and to fulfill the requirement of calcium. They believed that one teaspoon of juniper had calcium equivalent to one cup of milk.
Color, Consistency, and Smell Of Juniper Berry Oil
- The color of juniper berry oil is clear.
- The consistency of juniper berry oil is thin.
- The smell of juniper berry oil is earthy, crunchy, and woody, with mild to moderate intensity.
Properties Of Juniper Berry Essential Oil
- Antiseptic – Helps in curing sepsis
- Antioxidant – Scavenges free radicals
- Anti-cancerous – Protects protect from cancer
- Antidiabetic – Decreases sugar levels
- Antihyperlipidemic – Lowers the cholesterol levels in the blood
- Anti –Parkinsonian – Prevents the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
- Relaxant – Reduces tension and promotes relaxation
- Anti-inflammatory – Reduces inflammation
- Antibacterial – Fights against bacteria
- Sudorific – Diaphoretic or enhances the process of sweating
- Antirheumatic – Prevents rheumatoid arthritis
- Antihypertensive – Reduces increased blood pressure)
- Depurative – Purifies the blood
- Antispasmodic – Eases muscular spasms
- Stimulant – Stimulates different functions of the body
- Stomachic – Helps in proper digestion
- Astringent – Helps in contraction of the skin cells
- Insect repellent – Wards off insects and bugs
- Carminative – Relieves flatulence
- Diuretic – Helps in urination
- Rubefacient – Increases facial charm
- Vulnerary – Heals wounds
- Abortifacient – Causes abortion
Chemical Compounds In Juniper Berry Oil
The major constituents of juniper berry oil include:
Toluene, hexanal, α-thujene, α-pinene, α-fenchone, camphene, thuja-2,4(10)-diene, sabinene, β-pinene, myrcene, δ-3-carene, p-cymene, α-terpinene, limonene, β-phellandrene,x (E)-β-ocimene cis-sabinene hydrate, γ-terpinene, linalool, terpinolene, perillene, trans-sabinene hydrate, α-pinene oxide, trans-p-month-2-en-1-ol, campholen aldehyde, trans-pinocarveol, cis-verbenol borneol, terpinen-4-ol, p-cymen-8-ol, α-terpineol, myrtenol, myrtenal, verbenone, trans-carveol, carvone, methyl citronellate, undecan-2-one, bornyl acetate, methyl geranate, citronellyl acetate, terpinyl acetate, α-cubebene, geranyl acetate, trace α-copaene, β-elemene, α-gurjunene, longifolene, (E)-β-caryopyhllene, γ-elemene, (E)-β-farnesene, α-humulene, γ-muurolene, α-amorphene, germacrene D, β-selinene, α-muurolene, α-selinene, γ-cadinene, δ-cadinene, α-cadinene, spathulenol, caryophyllene oxide, humulene epoxide II, τ-muurol + τ-cadinol, α-cadinol, m-camphorene, and p-camphorene.
Health Benefits Of Juniper Berry Oil
Though the juniper berry oil benefits are abundant, the most important ones include:
1. Increases facial glow
Juniper berry essential oil is found highly effective in increasing your facial charm. This is due to its rich source of strong antioxidant and rubefacient properties.
When applied to the skin (diluted) it increases blood circulation. However, excess amounts can cause skin irritation. When there is increased blood flow, the skin underneath produces enough oxygen, making it look healthy and young. (3)
2. Fortified with antioxidants
Juniper berry essential oil is a rich source of antioxidants. The ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) such as O2-, H2O2, and OH-, are produced during metabolism in the cells.
At low concentration, these organisms participate in the physiology of the cells. This overproduction of free oxygen species determines cell survival. Based on the enzymatic and nonenzymatic protective mechanism, the removal or inactivation of ROS is determined.
α- and β-pinene and Myrcene inhibit the lipid peroxidation in the second stage, while limonene, myrcene, α-pinene, and sabinene demonstrate antiradical activity with DPPH.
The monoterpenes present in juniper essential oil helps in removing the oxidative stress and further, scavenge the generated free radicals. These free radicals can cause major harm to the cell, interrupting the metabolism and breaking down the cell wall. (4)
Many other diseased properties are also associated with the reactive oxygen species. These ROS are generated naturally by the body through metabolism and can be sublimated by taking adequate antioxidants in the diet.
3. A rich source of calcium
Juniper essential oil is believed to be a rich source of calcium from the prehistoric times. People in the olden days used to depend on it for many day-to-day requirements.
During an experiment, when juniper berry oil was blended with fish oil, it improved the bile-flow rate greatly. It reduced the cell death of liver cells up to 75% and increased intracellular calcium level by releasing prostaglandin E2.
It reduced reperfusion injury by inhibiting the activation of Kupffer cells and reduced the vasoactive eicosanoid release. Further, it also improved cell damage of liver cells due to oxidative stress. (5)
4. Helps you to quit smoking
One of the best health benefits of juniper berry oil is that it is highly effective in the treatment of respiratory tract inflammation caused due to cigarette smoke.
When you smoke cigarettes in excess, the airway becomes inflamed. But the aroma of juniper berry essential oil helps reduce this effect.
It reverses the symptoms associated with passive exposure to the harmful cigarette smoke, such as vasomotor impairment. The reverse smoking induces endothelial dysfunction. (6)
However, juniper essential oil administered through the nebulizer results in altered physiological mechanism of tracheal and bronchial tone.
It also helps in improving the disturbed sympathetic components of α 1 adrenergic for broncho-constriction and β2-adrenergic bronchodilator.
5. Treats melisma
Juniper berry oil is found useful in the treatment of melasma too. Melasma is a disorder that appears on the upper extremities, especially:
- On the face
- Over the nose
- Below the eyes
- On the sun-exposed body parts
It is also called the mask of melasma. It inhibits overexpression of tyrosinase enzyme. When there is an overexpression of tyrosinase, there is increased melanin production, which gets deposited in the melanoma cells of the sun-exposed area.
However, the topical application of juniper essential oil (blended with coconut oil) can reduce melasma. (7)
It regulates the 7-O-β-D-xylopyranoside-attenuated activity of tyrosinase, by stimulating the α- MSH in murine melanoma cells.
Hypolaetin 7-O-β-D-xylopyranoside, a component of juniper essential oil is also found effective in suppressing the α- MSH melanoma synthesis.
6. Effective anti-cancerous drug
Juniper essential oil is found to be an effective anti-cancerous drug. Being a potent antioxidant, it also works as an anticancerous drug. On screening via in-vitro assay, juniper was found effective against breast cancer. It also showed better results for prostate and colon cancer.
Isocupressic acid and aryl tetralin lignin deocypodophyllotoxin are effective in inducing the caspase-dependent pathways of apoptosis. It inhibits the onset of breast cancer within 24 hours of treatment. (8)
The ripe juniper berry was found useful on cell cycle progress and further, prevented cancer.
7. Cures Parkinson’s disease
Juniper berry essential oil is also effective against Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Intake of juniper berry oil and ripen berries were found useful for the neuro-protective activity. (9, 10)
8. Stimulates the body
Juniper berry essential oil is a strong emmenagogue, galactagogue, and a diuretic agent. All these properties are associated with being a “stimulant.” It increases the activity of neurons and improves the excretory system, digestive system, and nervous system.
It also increases the secretion of endocrine and exocrine glands, enhancing the secretion of sebum, milk, tears, sweat, urine, and menstruation discharge.
9. Gets rid of flatulence
Juniper oil works as an effective carminative agent. It removes gas from the intestine and helps in the treatment of chronic gastric trouble. Gas, when generated and accumulated in the intestine, can cause many problems. It can even cause chest pain, indigestion, severe stomachache, and uneasiness, raising blood pressure levels. (11, 12, 13)
10. Natural antiseptic agent
Juniper essential oil is a natural antiseptic. It helps in cleaning the skin and wounds by killing the bacteria and inhibiting the growth of bacterial colonies.
It can also be used as a natural floor cleaner. It prevents bacterial growth on the floor – be it kitchen, bathroom, or appliances. When the oil is diffused indoors, the odor helps in purifying the environment.
What Blends With Juniper Berry Oil?
Juniper berry oil blends the best with:
- Cedarwood oil
- Coconut oil
- Cypress oil
- Jojoba oil
- Lavender oil
- Grapefruit oil
- Lime oil
- Lemongrass oil
- Lavandin oil
- Geranium oil
- Vetiver oil
- Clary sage oil
- Bergamot oil
How To Use Juniper Berry Oil?
- Juniper berry essential oil can be used as a room freshener, and for preparing mixed drinks.
- However, before applying it on the skin, it should be diluted with a carrier oil to prevent skin irritation. You can either mix it with coconut oil or jojoba oil for best results.
- It is always safe to use juniper essential oil through a nebulizer or a diffuser to disperse it in the room.
- You can mix a few drops of juniper oil with water for sanitizing the room and keep it free from infections.
- You can eat raw juniper berries for a maximum of 4 weeks and excess or prolonged consumption can cause harm to your liver and kidneys. Therefore, people with liver and kidney diseases must strictly avoid the use of this essential oil. In the case of kidney stone also it must be strictly restricted. (16)
Side Effects Of Juniper berry Oil
Juniper berry essential oil has multiple effects and medicinal uses. You can even eat the berries raw. However, there are a few side effects you must make a note of:
- An overdose of juniper oil can cause kidney irritation and blood in the urine.
- If the urine turns violet or starts stinking after prolonged use of juniper berry, it is a sign that you must stop using or consuming it immediately.
- It is strongly recommended to consult a physician before using this oil or on the appearance of any side effect.
- Although Juniper berry is considered safe, it should not be used during pregnancy and lactation.
- Avoid using it on infants or toddlers.