Common juniper: medicinal properties

Common juniper is an evergreen coniferous shrub with black fruits called cones. It has a number of healing properties. In folk medicine, it is a diuretic, antiseptic and a cure for all types of gastrointestinal diseases. The fruits are traditionally used to treat migraines, gout and rheumatoid arthritis.

Description of common juniper

Common juniper (Juniperus Communis) is a plant of the Cypress family – an evergreen shrub, less often a low tree. Has many varieties. Found in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. It is a viable plant, usually living up to 100 years.

The common juniper grows in a wide variety of habitats, from swamps to rocky areas. A typical Eurasian variety reaches up to several meters in height, while other varieties creep or rise, reaching a small height. It can be found in many household plots.

What does common juniper look like? Always green, slow growing, branched. From the base, a shrub with a columnar, sometimes even flat form of growth. What is typical for junipers is that they branch in different directions, and not in the same plane, like other representatives of cypress.

Always green, slow growing, branched

The bark is thin, at first smooth, reddish-brown, later gray-brown, cracking along, falling off in long strips. Juniper has shallow roots, but it has a highly developed root system, which is why it sticks well to the ground.

The leaves grow in whorls of three, and remain on the shoots for three years. They are narrowly lanceolate, hard and prickly, 5 to 12, less often up to 15 mm long and 1–2 mm wide, gray-green in color, with a wide white stripe.

The flowering period falls on the end of May and the beginning of June, forming yellow flowers on male plants, and green on female plants.

Flowering period

Male inflorescences develop singly, annually and fall off during the year. They are about 8 mm long.

Female inflorescences are spherical, green at a young age, about 2 mm long. After pollination and maturation, the seeds reach 5-10 mm in length. At the base they are supported by a few small, strong and barren scales.

They do not become woody like many other gymnosperms, but remain fleshy and join together to form a cone-shaped berry. When ripe, it is black with a blue bloom. The fruits ripen in two years, the period of their collection is November-December.

Additional Information! Common juniper has many uses and is used, for example, as a medicinal plant. Pharmaceutical raw materials are ripe cones that are harvested in late autumn.

Growing common juniper

It is often cultivated as an ornamental shrub. It is a photophilous species, although it can survive and grow in shade. Female plants are more demanding of light, and in any case only bloom in the right light, while male plants bloom even in shaded undergrowth. However, development requires protection from direct sunlight. Juniper should not be transplanted, but pruning is highly recommended.

In landscape design

In relation to soils, it prefers poor nutrients: calcareous, sandy, and also peaty. It tolerates a wide range of soil pH and salinity. The juniper is frost-resistant, well tolerates the lack of water, although severe and prolonged droughts have a significant effect on the death of the juniper. Poorly tolerates stagnant water.

Common juniper: composition

Scientific studies have proven that common juniper has numerous pharmacological effects. Substances contained in juniper have antioxidant properties, consisting in the removal of free radicals. In addition, they showed a protective effect on the nervous tissue and improved memory. The active substances contained in the raw materials are essential oils, organic acids, tannins, essential oils.

What are the healing properties of common juniper?

It is widely used in medicine, and has a number of healing properties, thanks to which it relieves various ailments.

The raw materials obtained from the plant are mainly cones, i.e., fruits that are used to make herbal mixtures and essential oils.

Juniper fruits

Medicinal substances are also obtained from other parts of the plant, such as leaves or roots.

Juniper fruits are valued primarily due to the presence of essential oil, resinous compounds, bitterness, flavone glycosides and mineral salts. When ripe, they have a pronounced resinous taste and smell.

The rich chemical composition of common juniper gives it the following properties:

  • painkiller;
  • anti-inflammatory;
  • antiseptic;
  • antidiabetic;
  • diuretic;
  • antirheumatic;
  • choleretic;
  • hepatoprotective.

Juniper-based products are widely available from pharmacies, herbal and health food stores, and cosmetics stores. These properties of juniper fruit are used in the treatment of various diseases and ailments.

Preparations with juniper, used orally, stimulate the secretion of bile and improve digestion, in addition, they have a bactericidal, disinfectant and diuretic effect. The fruits of the plant are used as an analgesic for rheumatic pains and migraines.

It is part of herbal mixtures and teas that affect the entire digestive system. The properties of pharmaceutical raw materials help in case of liver failure, as well as congestion in the biliary tract, and other digestive disorders. Helps with dyspepsia and excessive fermentation of food in the intestines.

Stimulates blood circulation and increases contractions of the heart muscle. The decongestant diuretic effect may be useful in the treatment of circulatory failure and obesity.

Rubbed into the skin, the oil has a disinfecting effect, warming and analgesic. Juniper is used in topical analgesics in ointments and gels with warming or cooling functions and is indicated primarily for such ailments as radiculitis, neuralgia and rheumatoid pain.

In folk medicine, it is a diuretic, antiseptic and a cure for all types of gastrointestinal diseases. Infusions and tinctures for internal and external use were obtained from juniper berries.

Water, water-alcohol and oil extracts of juniper, fruits crushed immediately before use, and juniper oil itself have an antiseptic and disinfectant effect on the digestive tract. They have a relaxing effect on smooth muscles, stimulating the secretion of digestive juices.

Juniper oil

Preparations rich in oil dilate the trachea and bronchi, stimulate ventilation of the lungs and thin the mucous secretion in the airways.

Note! Among the indications for the use of common juniper, for example, colds, digestive problems, neuralgia, urinary tract diseases or liver failure and bile flow disorders.

In the treatment of colds, the disinfecting properties of juniper fruits are used, from which rinses or inhalations can be prepared. It is also worth doing massages with oils because of their warming effect.

Juniper fruit infusion enhances bile secretion, so it is recommended to drink it for liver problems, such as impaired bile outflow or insufficiency.

Juniper berries, freshly ground in a mortar, serve as an excellent seasoning for meat dishes and soups, as well as in the production of vodkas and tinctures.

Contraindications for use

Common juniper should not be consumed by people with kidney inflammation. The active substances contained in it can irritate the kidney parenchyma and lead to bleeding. Due to the content of essential oils and choleretic, as well as diuretic effects, preparations with common juniper should not be given to children. Contraindication for external use is irritated and damaged skin.

Note! Preparations containing common juniper should not be used for a long time due to the possibility of irritation of the mucous membrane of the entire digestive tract and the risk of kidney damage.

Special care should be taken when taking oral preparations with common juniper in people taking diuretics at the same time, due to their synergistic effect.

cosmetic effect

Juniper can be found in cosmetics for the face, body and hair. It is the active ingredient in hair growth products, dandruff treatments, and antifungal medications.

Active ingredient for hair growth

It is present in cosmetics designed to combat wrinkles, cellulite and stretch marks, as well as in cosmetics for weight loss and body shaping.

It is used in cosmetics as a remedy for cellulite and stretch marks. Regulates fluid management, therefore also used in anti-cellulite preparations, also has an astringent effect.

The healing properties of juniper are associated with the content of phytoncides, which have a bactericidal effect, as an anti-acne agent.

The oil has antiseptic properties and is used in preparations for oily and acne-prone skin, as well as in anti-dandruff preparations.


Juniper oil is also used in aromatherapy.