The berries of this North American shrub flavor gin, named after geniŠvre, French for “juniper berry.” Traditionally the fragrance was thought to ward off contagious diseases. Native Americans living in the high deserts of the West still burn it during purification and healing ceremonies. Until World War II, the French also burned it in their hospitals as an antiseptic.
Extraction: Distilled from ripe berries. Resinoid, absolute. Its pungent, herbaceous, peppery odor is pinelike and camphorous. The berries offer the highest quality oil, but needles, branches and berries that have already been distilled to flavor gin are sometimes used.
Medicinal Action: Juniper is used in the treatment of arteriosclerosis, rheumatic pain, general debility, and congestion-related problems such as varicose veins, hemorrhoids, fluid retention and cellulite. It is a genital and urinary tract antiseptic, a circulatory stimulant, and it increases stomach acid.
Cosmetic/Skin Use: Juniper is suitable for acne, eczema, and greasy hair or dandruff.
Emotional Attribute: Juniper is good for those with mental fatigue, insomnia and anxiety and for those who are emotionally drained. It provides a feeling of protection when the demands of others pull too strongly.
Considerations: Juniper can be harsh on the kidneys, so choose a more gentle oil if they are inflamed.
Cedarwood, Virginia (J. virginiana) –This juniper is the real source of most “cedar oil”-and most wooden pencils! It scented the “Lebanon cedarwood” that perfumed many a Victorian handkerchief. A Texas cedarwood (J. mexicana) oil is also produced, while the low-priced East African J. procera scents soap and sometimes cologne. J. sabina is the most toxic of the junipers and should be avoided.
Oil of Cade (Juniper Tar) –Made by “destructive” distillation of the roots that involves burning the wood, the resulting thick, smoky tar was once used for infected wounds, eczema and skin parasites. Today, it provides foods with a smoked flavor.