The leaves of this bush are sharp evergreen needles, which are green on the upper side with a characteristic thick white stripe. Its flowers are insignificant on the new shoots: the males are yellow, the females are green. Its fruit, initially green, takes 2 years to ripen before becoming edible. These are berries called galbuli (berries made up of merged scales) and are also known as juniper, which change colour from green to a purplish blue-black when ripening.

Latin name

Juniperus communis L


America, Asia, Africa, Europe

Used part

The essential oil from the cones.

Active components

Terpenes (pinene, sabinene, myrcene): have antiseptic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.


The blue-black astringent cones are too bitter to be eaten raw. In general, they are dried to flavour meats, sauces, sauerkraut and stuffing. They are generally crushed before use to release their flavour. Given that juniper berries have a strong flavour, they must be used in moderation. The cones are used to flavour certain beers, jenever and gin. In the past, the spines were used, or even burned, as an aromatic herb or incense to fragrance a room. Juniper perfume was also a good way to repel insects.1 A decoction of these spines was used as an anti-dandruff shampoo. The wood is still used to smoke meat. The distilled essential oil of the cones is used in spiced perfumes, bath oils and sometimes as a culinary seasoning. The uses of juniper date back to ancient Greek and Arabic physicians. During the period of the plague, people burned the branches and walked over the berries, because this was believed to purify the air and halt the infection. Juniper was used in the treatment of urinary tract infections, digestive disorders, gout and rheumatic conditions. The essential oil has antioxidant2-3 and anti-inflammatory properties.4-13It contributes to the health of the skin and supports the body’s elimination systems. Most essential oils are produced through steam distillation. This process creates two liquids, an aqueous distillate and the essential oil that floats to the surface of this first liquid. The aqueous distillate, considered an important by-product, is called floral water or hydrolat. The components of the substances in floral water have been studied very little. They contain hydrosoluble compounds which are often somewhat similar to the liposoluble components of the essential oil, but in very low concentrations. The action of this substance might be very minimal in relation to that of the essential oil, but it can gently contribute to the action of other substances. This is why it is often used as a useful ingredient in cosmetic applications such as creams and gels in combination with other plants.

Bibliographical references

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The health claims relating to other nutrients or substances contained in our products that feature on our site are compliant with Regulation No. 432/2012 of the Commission of 16 May 2012 which establishes a list of authorised health claims authorised in relation to food products, other than those in reference to the reduction of the risk of disease as well as community-based development and child health (cf. website of the European Commission: