European Folk Medicine: Juniper

Serving as a prominent ingredient in ritual cleansing practices, juniper was burned at temples when purification ceremonies took place. In ancient Egyptian civilizations, remnants of papyrus highlight an assortment of medicinal treatments that utilize juniper, including the 1550 BC recipe for tapeworm that included 5 parts juniper berries and 5 parts white oil for a daily dose. In this article, you will learn what ailments juniper treats and how to create some of these remedies at home.


When it comes to central European folk medicine, the oil extracted from the juniper berry was looked upon as an effective cure for all things. Patients suffering cholera, typhoid, dysentery, and other illnesses that strike the impoverished have been successfully treated in the past with the use of juniper. Today, there is a disputed number regarding the many different kinds of juniper trees in the world. Depending on who you speak to , they may claim 52, while another cites up to 67. Within these numbers, an array of species are broken down into different groups and acknowledged, including the Temple Juniper and the Portuguese Prickly Juniper.


Juniper is often described as pungent, hot, dry, and with a slight bittersweet taste. The berries contain helpful and healthy tannins, flavonoids, volatile oils, and vitamin C. When used as an herbal treatment, some have found great results regarding their urinary tract, digestive system, and rheumatism. He parts one may use to generate herbal remedies includes the berries, essential oils, and what is known as cade oil.


Through the process of dry distillation of the heartwood pertaining to varying kinds of juniper trees, cade oil (also called juniper tar oil) contains phenol and serves as a mild disinfectant. When applied to external ailments, the substance is non-irritating and can treat reoccurring skin conditions, including eczema and psoriasis. This type of treatment really does resemble tar or slick oil.


Juniper berries look like small blueberries and when ripe, has the power to treat urinary infections and shows promise when clearing acidic waste from the body when one suffers from arthritis or gout. The berries are also used to reduce colic and flatulence, as well as stimulate the digestive system. When a woman undergoes labor, the berries are known to help females along with their uterine contractions. The best time to pick juniper berries is when they have transformed from green in color to the purplish blue shade they are known for. Interestingly, this process may take two years to complete.


When considering juniper essential oils for treatment, the ripe berries are put through a process of steam distillation, which produces the oil that is quite popular in treating a range of medical concerns. The oil works externally to combat bacteria, as well as increase the filtering capacity of the kidneys in regards to the removal of waste from the system.


In the article titled, “Make Your Own Juniper Natural Remedies,” you will learn about the different medicinal uses for the plant, a well as a few recipes to consider.