Juniper Berry Essential Oil Benefits
Juniper Berry Essential Oil Benefits are numerous and profound. At Miracle Botanicals, we carry two varieties of juniper berry essential oil: common juniper (Juniperus communis) and mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum).
Customers frequently ask me which juniper berry oil is right for them, so I decided to put together this short guide to help you answer that question.
The two varieties of juniper are related, as are their essential oils. However, there is also quite a bit of difference in the actual constituents of the essential oils, and this will mean a difference in aroma as well as in therapeutic properties.
Before I address the differences between the two oils, let me first tell you their common points. First off, juniper berry essential oils come from berries of the female juniper trees — coniferous trees that grow all around the world in hundreds of different species.
These berries have been used for a long time as a fundamental part of natural medicine — to treat infections, promote stamina, and as a part of traditional cleansing ceremonies.
In modern times, juniper berry essential oils have also been studied scientifically. We now know they are mostly composed of monoterpenes, a class of aromatic chemicals that have a range of therapeutic benefits, including antimicrobial, antioxidant, and analgesic effects.
With that said, let’s look at the two specific juniper berry oils and their unique properties.
Common juniper berry essential oil
The common juniper is a very widespread tree. In fact, it has the widest geographical range of any woody plant — it ranges throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. We source our common juniper essential oil from Hungary.
Common juniper essential oil tends to have a fresh, fruity, green, and slightly balsamic aroma.
This oil is very high in alpha-pinene, which can account for as much as 55% of the total. Alpha-pinene is one of the most widely occurring essential oil compounds, and it’s also found in large amounts in frankincense, pine, and rosemary oils.
Alpha-pinene is a bronchodilator, and it it is the reason why common juniper berry essential oil helps with breathing problems. This compound also has anti-inflammatory properties, it acts broad spectrum antibiotic, and it even helps improve memory.
In addition to alpha-pinene, common juniper essential oil contains significant amounts of myrcene — another monoterpene, and the reason for the slightly fruity aroma of common juniper essential oil. Myrcene is also found in large amounts in bay and cannabis essential oils, and acts as a sedative and for pain relief.
Because of these constituents, common juniper essential oil is particularly useful in preventing and treating wounds and infections, helping with breathing problems, and aiding with memory.
Many people also find this variety of juniper berry oil effective for improving cellulite and acne. In fact, it’s an important ingredient in our Coffee Body Scrub.
At this point, I have to address a couple of claims that are commonly made against common juniper essential oil — that it can be harmful to kidneys if used for a prolonged period of time, and that it shouldn’t be used during pregnancy.
I’ve checked Robert Tisserand’s book Essential Oil Safety, the authoritative safety text when it comes to essential oils. According to this book, there is no good reason to back up the claim that common juniper berry essential oil is harmful to kidneys or that it’s dangerous during pregnancy. In fact, these claims are probably due to a long-running confusion between common juniper berry and another essential oil, savin (Juniperus sabina)
Mountain juniper berry essential oil
Mountain juniper — also known as Rocky Mountain juniper or weeping juniper — is a species of juniper that’s native to the western parts of North America. At Miracle Botanicals, we source this oil directly from a small family distiller in the Arizona desert.
The aroma of mountain juniper berry is fresh and warm, with minor citrus overtones and only a trace amount of camphor.
The main constituent of mountain juniper berry essential oil is the monoterpene sabinene, which can account for as much as 50% of the oil. Sabinene is a natural antifungal and antioxidant. It is not nearly as widespread as alpha-pinene, though it is also found in significant amounts in frankincense frereana and black pepper essential oils (in fact it’s responsible in part for the spiciness of black pepper).
Unlike common juniper berry essential oil, mountain juniper berry contains significant amounts of alpha-terpinene, a substance also found in tea tree oil and studied for its anti-cancer properties. In addition, it contains limonene, which is responsible for the citrusy overtone of this oil.
Therapeutically, mountain juniper berry essential oil is a natural antifungal, thanks to its sabinene content. In addition, it is believed to benefit liver function and digestion, relieve arthritis, and soothe skin conditions.
Which one is right for you?
If you’re looking to heal wounds, treat bacterial infections, or to deal with your breathing problems, then common juniper berry essential oil is the way to go.
If you need to treat a fungal infection or to promote liver function and healthy digestion, then mountain juniper berry is your choice.
Beyond this, both oils offer pain relief, and are uplifting and clarifying to the mind. Choosing between them will be a matter of which aroma you prefer — more fruity and balsamic in the case of common juniper, more citrusy and slightly camphorous in the case of mountain juniper.
Personally, I love both varieties of our juniper berry essential oils, though there’s a special place in my heart for the mountain juniper. I love to use it in the shower, by just placing a few drops in my palm and spreading it all over my body from toes to neck. I find that this oil is also great when inhaled as a way to to bring my thoughts back to peace.
I hope this brief guide will help you decide which juniper berry is right for you. If you still have any questions or need help making up your mind, write me an email at [email protected] and I will do my best to help.