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 USES.
To buy juniper berry oil visit the ONLINE SHOP.


Juniperus communis

Other Juniper species include J. Oxycedrus, which gives cade oil, and savin (J. Sabina) which is toxic and should not be used in aromatherapy.

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, 5) 

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 toner?

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)


1) Julia Lawless, The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, Element, Shaftesbury, 1992,

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.

Paul Boizot. Information revised 20.3.04. Page updated 28.10.14.

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My address from 30.04.12 is 14 Holly Bank Grove, York YO24 4EA, U.K.

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