The juniper tree, Juniperus communis, is an evergreen shrub that grows in many parts of the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia.
It produces seed cones that are commonly known as juniper berries. Though the berries’ coloring varies, most are deep blue. Their aroma is often described as woody or spicy.
They have a tart, pine-like flavor and are commonly used in small amounts as a spice or flavoring agent.
These small berries have been used for culinary and medicinal purposes since ancient times, and current research suggests that they may offer various health benefits.
What are the benefits of Juniper Berry essential oil?
Juniper Berry oil has traditionally been used for treating:
Uses of Juniper Berry oil, as research tells us so far.
High in nutrients and powerful plant compounds
Provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects
It May have anti-diabetic properties
Could promote heart health
Antibacterial and antifungal activity
Like many essential oils, researchers have been working to evaluate the potential health benefits of Juniper Berry oil and its components.
How to use Juniper Berry?
Unlike other berries, juniper berries are typically used only in small amounts to flavor foods — not eaten in large portions.
They have an astringent, pine-like taste, which makes them a popular ingredient for seasoning recipes and infusing beverages.
For example, juniper berries are used to add flavor to marinades and spice rubs and give gin its distinctive taste.
They’re commonly sold dried — either whole or crushed — but can be purchased fresh as well.
Keep in mind that there are many types of junipers, and not all are edible. Berries from the Juniperus communis are most frequently used in culinary applications.
Juniper berry essential oil is also used in aromatherapy and is said to be calming. Keep in mind that essential oils should not be ingested.
Additionally, juniper berry tea can be purchased in tea bags or made at home using crushed juniper berries.
Are there any side effects?
Juniper, juniper berry, and juniper extract are likely safe when consumed in normal food amounts.
Juniper is possibly safe for most adults when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts short-term, when inhaled appropriately as a vapor, or when applied to the skin in small areas. Using juniper on the skin can cause some side effects including irritation, burning, redness, and swelling. Avoid using it on large skin wounds.
Taking juniper by mouth long-term or in a high dose is likely unsafe as it can cause kidney problems, seizures, and other serious side effects.
The bottom line!
Juniper berries are a popular ingredient in marinades, spice rubs, and specialty cocktails due to their aromatic flavor.
Extract from the berries has been shown to provide many health benefits in animal and test-tube research. It may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and reduce blood sugar levels and heart disease risk factors.
However, due to the lack of human research on the potential medicinal effects of juniper berries and their supplements, their safety and effectiveness are largely unknown.
Therefore, it’s best to use fresh or dried juniper berries in small amounts as a culinary ingredient.
Always talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns before using Juniper Berry oil.