Properties: Juniper berry essential oil has long been used for its antiseptic properties and is a valuable oil for arthritic horses and stressed, aching muscles.
Thought to support the liver and kidneys, juniper berry may help with the removal of uric and lactic acid from muscles which is why hedgewitch believe it to be the bodywash of choice after strenuous exercise. Also especially useful where there are conditions where there is fluid retention – such as filled legs.
On a behavioural level, juniper berry is often selected by horses who lack self worth, feel overwhelmed by crowds, are withdrawn or protective of their own space.
History: Juniper berries were known to the Ancients. They were found in prehistoric Swiss lake dwellings, and mentioned in Egyptian papyri. They were burned in ancient Greece to combat epidemics – as was the wood rather more recently, in French hospitals during the smallpox epidemic of 1870. The Romans also used it as a strong antiseptic and in cooking. Cato the Elder considered the berries to be diuretic – one of their principal proven properties. In the Middle Ages, juniper was considered a panacea for headaches and kidney and bladder problems. St Hildegarde prescribed it for pul¬monary infections if crushed in a hot bath, and for high temperatures, advice echoed later by the School of Salerno.
In Britain, juniper berries were considered more magical than medicinal: sprays of berries hung on doors kept witches away, smoke from a juniper wood fire kept demons away and an infusion of the berries was thought to restore lost youth!
Principle constituents: α-pinene, β-pinene, limonene, , myrcene
Precautions: do NOT use in pregnancy, generally held to be non-toxic, non-irritant, non-sensitizing.