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Juniperus communis

Juniperus communis 

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name


Genus Name


Vernacular Name

Juniper, common juniper, juniper tree, juniper berry, oleum juniper, wacholderol

Original Habitat

Although juniper is generally referred to as a tree, juniper also grows as a shrub. This berry-producing coniferous evergreen can reach upwards of 4 metres. J. communis grows throughout the world, usually in lower elevations.[1] This tree is common in Europe, Asia and North America where it is listed as ‘threatened’ or ‘endangered’ in several states.[2]

Plant Part Used

Branchlets with berries


The essential oil of J. communis is used as a flavouring agent in the food and beverage industry including the flavouring of alcoholic beverages. In the fragrance industry, the oil is used in men’s cologne and in cosmetics.[3][4] In therapeutic aromatherapy, the oil is usually found in condition specific formulations.


J. communis essential oil is steam distilled from the ripe, unfermented berries/berry cones, and sometimes from the small branchlets. The distillation process produces a thin essential oil that is clear to pale yellow in colour with a crisp, balsamic, conifer-like aroma.[5]

Chemical Constituents

Terpenes: Alpha-pinene (50-70%), sabinene (10-30%)
Sesquiterpenes, terpenic alcohols, sequiterpenols[1][3][6][7]

Medicinal Uses

Diuretic, decongestant of the blood +++ [8]

Antimicrobial: Juniper essential oil was shown to be an important antimicrobial agent. The oil was tested against both gram +/- bacteria and showed inhibitory effects. In addition, juniper also showed antifungal properties against fungi and yeast-like fungi, especially against Candida strains.[6] In another study, juniper oil, among other oils, was tested against Gram (+) Staphylococcus epidermidis and the Gram (-) Escherichia coli F'lac K12 LE140, and on two yeast strains. The results demonstrated antimicrobial activity against all.[9]

Antiseptic: The essential oil found in J. communis has exhibited antiseptic properties.[10] These properties have lead investigators to research methods of processing the oil for preparation of cosmetic acne treatments.[11]

Capase 3 inhibitor: In a laboratory study, the oil of J. communis inhibited heat shock-induced apoptosis in human astrocytes.[12]

Antioxidant: In a laboratory setting, J. communis oil exhibited antioxidant properties that would be considered consistent with the requirements for food preservation.[13]

Traditional Use

Antirheumatic +++
Bronchitis, rhinitis ++

 Despite its widespread use, there is no clinical evidence to support the traditional or anecdotal use of the essential oil of J. communis.

Contraindications and Precautions

J. communis is considered to be an abortifacient and should be completely avoided by pregnant women as well as those who are nursing.[3][4]

While there is limited safety information on the oil, it is considered safe when used as directed.[8]



[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]


1.         Filipowicz N. The phytochemical and genetic survey of common and dwarf juniper (Juniperus communis and Juniperus nana) identifies chemical races and close taxonomic identity of the species. Planta Med. 2006 Jul;72(9):850-853.

2.         USDA Plants Database. Available from [Accessed on May 2009].

3.         Final report on the safety assessment of Juniperus communis Extract, Juniperus oxycedrus Extract, Juniperus oxycedrus Tar, Juniperus phoenicea extract and Juniperus virginiana Extract. Int J Toxicol. 2001;20(2):41-56.

4.         Lis-Balchan M. Aromatherapy science: a guide for healthcare professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2006.

5.         Bauer K, Garbe D, Surburg H. Common fragrance and flavor materials. NY: Wiley-Vch; 1997.

6.         Pepeljnjak S. Antimicrobial activity of juniper berry essential oil (Juniperus communis L., Cupressaceae). Acta Pharm. 2005 Dec;55(4):417-422.

7.         Angioni A. Chemical composition of the essential oils of Juniperus from ripe and unripe berries and leaves and their antimicrobial activity. J Agric Food Chem. 2003 May 7;51(10):3073-3078.

8.         Schilcher H. The potential nephrotoxic effects of essential juniper oil. Article in German. Arzneimittelforschung. 1997 Jul;47(7):855-858.

9.         Schelz Z. Antimicrobial and antiplasmid activities of essential oils. Fitoterapia. 2006 Jun;77(4):279-285.

10.        Gross KA. Juniper wood as a possible implant material. J Biomed Mater Res A. 15 2003 Mar;64(4):672-683.

11.        Gavini E. Solid lipid micro particles (SLM) containing juniper oil as anti-acne topical carriers: preliminary studies. Pharm Dev Technol. 2005;10(4):479-487.

12.        Na HJ. Juniper oil inhibits the heat shock-induced apoptosis via preventing the caspase-3 activation in human astrocytes CCF-STTG1 cells. Clin Chim Acta. 2001 Dec;314(1-2):215-220.

13.        Emami SA. Antioxidant activity of the essential oils of different parts of Juniperus communis subsp. hemisphaerica and Juniperus oblonga. Pharma Biol. 2007 Dec;45(10):769-776.

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