Juniper (Juniperus communis) is a plant mentioned in ancient texts as a remedy and as a protector in the broadest sense of the term (“making it a scent, chasing away snakes” M.P. Mattioli).
It is a plant that can live up to a few thousand meters of altitude – when the place and the climate is ideal it develops showing all its strength with leaves that have a sharp and pungent apex, and berries that have a slightly sour taste (for some this is also the origin of the name juniperus).
Juniper is a hot plant according to the ancient pharmacopoeia and we also find in Hildegarda di Bingen the words that “juniper is hotter than cold – it is the image of excess”.
This plant which in fact does not seem to invite to contact, and in this could show an “excess of pungency and heat”, has in its essential oil an excellent remedy both in cosmetic application and in general well-being.
From a symbolic point of view, its points that reject it could be read not so much as a refusal of contact, but as a defense – in this sense the plant has always been associated with the idea of protection and durability. In fact, the wood is resistant and the fumigation plant is used both as a purification and as a prayer that rises to heaven.
The use of juniper is attested in many cultures and all with the common characteristic of “chasing away evil spirits” and protecting.
To better understand these symbolic aspects, it is worth sniffing the essential oil and trying to smell what sensation it gives us.
The essence is extracted from the berries; the scent rises upwards leaving a feeling of mental cleanliness and clarity; at the same time it calms the breath and calms anxieties and discomforts of the heart. Juniper could be defined as a real “incense“, a little because it has always been used also for the purpose of purifying environments, a little because its fine smell actually purifies, broadens the breath, quiet. The essence perceives all the intimacy of the berries that are defended by the sharp leaves: the intimacy of the inner temple that needs clear defenses and boundaries. The berry, with its seeds inside, a precious dwelling, requires a structure that can keep everything that could attack it at a distance. So in the plant and in the essence we find a double symbol; the quiet, the dwelling, the offspring (the seeds), the intimacy, enclosed in the round berry which is complementary to the pointed, long, pointed, distancing, ready to prick leaf (in defense, therefore more than ready to point out where and when you cross the border).
When to use the essential oil?
Certainly when you feel the need to return to yourself, to find your own “inner family”, when you want to rediscover intimacy with yourself and with others (proximity, knowing how to be close); when, for example, after a day of commitments and answers on mobile and whatsapp, we feel the need to feel the breath in the chest again and calm down the anxiety to which we are perhaps accustomed.
Or simply when we want to relax for a few minutes, with a good book, or listen to good music. Juniper is an essential oil also for sharing a moment of relaxation with someone else, someone we feel close to; it could be an essential oil to meditate or pray together.
This subtle aspect is combined with some interesting practical application aspects; from a physical point of view, balsamic, antiseptic, diuretic, antirheumatic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic properties are recognized in essential oil.
Excellent anti-inflammatory and analgesic, it can be used in creams for skin problems (eczema, acne, etc.). Aromatic water can be used as a tonic for the skin, especially for combination skin.
Its qualities also make it suitable for anti-cellulite creams and treatments and in general for detoxifying treatments (it also has diuretic properties). Also excellent in ointments for arthritis and arthrosis.
Be careful not to use it in pregnancy and if there are health problems related to kidney function.