Common Juniper essential oil, a prehistoric panacea

pharmacological properties of juniper berry essential oil

Juniper was already known to the Greeks and Arabs. Avicenna (11th century) said that he dilated obstructions and worked against hysteria . It was also used to purify the bronchi and the liver and against the stings of insects or scorpions . In the Middle Ages, Sainte Hildegarde (13th century) revealed its effects against kidney and bladder diseases as well as against headaches .

A little history

Juniper berries have been known and used since prehistoric times , where they were notably found inside certain caves, in stone troughs. The Ebers papyrus mentions it, circa 1500 BC. JC., The “berries” of juniper already treating digestive pain and urinary problems . From Antiquity , the Greeks and Romans used berries in medicine (for its diuretic action), in cooking as well as to carry out fumigations.

Fuchs (16th century) thus considers it as a universal antidote recalling the role of panacea that has been attributed to its wood since Antiquity, in fumigation against epidemics. In the 19th century, Cazin reported that the berries were tonic, stomachic as well as diuretic, thus giving urine a scent of violet. They are therefore recommended in lung diseases , kidney infections related to stones , chronic skin conditions and rheumatism. .

Fournier (20th century) also recalls that the berries, the end of the twigs, the wood and the ashes activate the functions of the kidneys and are depurative, stimulating and sudorific. Mathiole, Helvétius and many ancient therapists also grant it eminent properties.Father Kneipp prescribed them very frequently to purify the blood and erase skin diseases.

In aromatherapy, Valnet (20th century) advises it on urinary tract conditions, rheumatic inflammation as well as gout attacks.

What are the pharmacological properties of juniper berry essential oil ?

Antimicrobial property:

The antimicrobial activity of essential oil of juniper has been demonstrated in vitro vis-à-vis of Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, in Proteus mirabilis, in Pseudomonas aeruginosa as well as Klebsiella pneumoniae. Its antiviral activity has also been demonstrated against the herpes virus HSV-1. As for its antifungal effect , it has been demonstrated in vitro against Candida albicans and dermatophytes.

Diuretic property:

An experiment has shown that a treatment based on an aqueous extract, an essential oil solution or terpineol-4 maintains normal urinary excretion when subjects are treated with the antidiuretic hormone which greatly reduces urine production. . The essential oil, in particular terpineol-4 , is directly involved in this effect demonstrated in humans. There is no increase in sodium in the urine, but uric acid would be excreted .

Juniper is therefore an adjunct to diuresis cures in benign urinary disorders.

Hepato-pancreatic property:

The essential oil stimulates choleresis and in particular reduces the formation of gallstones . Α-pinene is therefore hepatoprotective.

Digestive tonic in hepato-pancreatic insufficiencies , the essential oil of juniper is also anti-fermentation, intestinal antiputride, anti-degeneration (hepatic, stomach, duodenum) and protects the Küpffer cells of the liver (as a good immunological protector of the liver). Juniper is also choleretic and increases bile secretion .

It also has a beneficial action on the large intestine, and is known to be an antiputride of the intestine in colitis (intestine – urinary tract relationship).

Expectorant property:

Α-pinene reduces, among other things, bronchial and venotonic secretions .

Renal protective property:

Juniper essential oil purifies the kidney filter and has a beneficial effect on the kidney in particular.

Other properties:

  • Brain tonic, anti-asthenic
  • Antirheumatic (promotes the excretion of kidney toxins as well as uric acid)
  • Lymphotonic and decongestant
  • Antispasmodic and regulation of the autonomic nervous system
  • Protein glycation inhibitor, involved in the prevention of diabetes complications
  • Antioxidant activity and on acetylcholinesterase, potentialities in Alzheimer’s disease
  • Antioxidant and anti-hypercholesterolemic activity, potentialities in the prevention of atherosclerosis
  • Drains subcutaneous tissue topically
  • Topical anti-inflammatory and analgesic
  • Cortison-like

Does Juniper essential oil require precautions for use?

  • Recommended for people with acidic terrain
  • Contraindicated in pregnant or breastfeeding women as well as in children under 8 years old
  • Be careful with the local use of this essential oil too concentrated on too large areas (can cause skin irritation)
  • Do not inhale, diffuse, or put in the bath water
  • Do not combine with cortisone, risk of drug interaction
  • Drug interactions with essential oils containing more than 10% ketones or phenols
  • Caution in case of oral renal failure
  • Inhibition of cytochrome P450, risk of drug interactions, ask your pharmacist for advice
  • Contraindicated in asthmatics
  • Forbidden to animals
  • Contraindicated in case of heavy periods
  • Attention, risk of albuminuria in too long cures

Medical bibliographic sources and clinical trials :


Clementine. M.
Naturopath – Aromatherapist / Herbalist – Phytotherapist
Consultant in Clinical Phyto-aromatherapy and Ethnomedicine

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