A strong natural germ killer is juniper berry oil. But can simply taking a whiff of its essential oil really help you lose weight? Or, is this just natural healthy quackery at its most absurd?
“Sippin’ on gin and juice” … supposedly, it can help you feel ‘laid back.’
So says the misogynistic rap song by Snoop Dogg.
Well, it turns out that Snoop might have been on to something. Gin, the rapper’s alcohol of choice, is made from juniper berries.
And the essential oil from juniper is many an herbalists’ and natural health user’s top choice for inducing sleep and relaxation.
That’s great news if you’re prone to the mad munchies (pigging out at night). Several studies like this one prove, not surprisingly, that when you’re feeling calm, you’re much less likely to binge eat at night.
So break out the juniper berries! And feast away.
Well, not exactly….
Juniperus communis: not only for getting drunk
Juniper berry (J. communis) looks almost exactly like blueberries. But don’t let it fool you. It’s a fake fruit. Rather, it’s actually a seed.
Thus, don’t go traipsing through the woods harvesting them and popping a handful in your mouth. The seeds are way too bitter, anyways. (Not to mention the fact that there are some poisonous species.)
That technicality aside, the seed contains about two percent volatile oil.
“Volatile” doesn’t mean that it’s going to blow up in your face. All it means is that the oil turns into a vapor.
The vapor can be inhaled in the form of an essential oil.
If you’re at a spa getting a blissful massage, there’s a good chance the therapist might be diffusing a blend with juniper berry oil. (Henceforth “JBO” or “JEO” for ‘juniper essential oil’; the terms are interchangeable).
JBO contains more than 100 compounds. And these compounds have been proven in several research studies to offer several health benefits.
We’ll be taking a look at some juniper berry oil benefits and uses shortly….
We’ll also examine its potential for fighting cellulite, weight gain and hair loss.
But first, a little about its traditional uses, long before it was added to flavor gin (and getting Snoop Dogg wasted.)
For centuries, the berries were used for two major reasons: medicine and as a flavoring spice for meat.
For the former, the seeds can help fight wounds and infections because it acts as an antiseptic.
And the interesting thing is, as we’ll see shortly, research confirms JBO is indeed a bacteria killer.
In addition, traditionally, the seeds (remember, they’re not actually berries) stop diarrhea and other abdominal disorders.
Moreover, the compounds in the seeds help close the pores. This makes juniper berry oil worthy of consideration for your natural beauty regimen.
A study from Croatia reveals what makes JEO a potent germ killer. The main compounds in it are: alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, sabinene, limonene, and myrcene.
But you’re not reading this for a biochemistry lesson, right? OK, just the facts. Well, it turns out these compounds are proven to neutralize 16 bacterial species.
In addition, the compounds kill seven different fungi. As well as three strains of yeast and four strains of dermatophyte. (And a partridge in a pear tree, right?)
Wait a sec. What’s a dermatophyte you ask? Great question! It’s a disease-causing fungus.
Frighteningly, it can grow on your skin, mucous membranes, hair, nails, and other areas of your body.
At minimal, this kind of fungus causes ringworm and related diseases.
[Got ringworm? Read “How to get rid of ringworm naturally.”]
Juniper berry oil is most effective when killing a certain species of Candida.
An overgrowth of candida in your gut can produce numerous nasty symptoms, from bloating to chronic fatigue and autoimmune disorders.
Lowers blood sugar
Let’s be clear for a second. Drinking gin, especially if it’s mixed with juice, is not a health elixir.
But this study in an influential medicinal plant journal suggests Juniperus communis lowers blood sugar (at least in rats).
Juniper berries may prevents premature aging
Are juniper berries the proverbial fountain of youth? Of course not. There’s no singular food or plant that will help you live a really long time.
But just as death can be had with one thousand paper cuts, the flip side is true with wellness. It takes several fountains of youth to prevent disease.
And according to this research in the journal, Antioxidants, extracts from juniper are one plant remedy that can fight aging.
You have an abundance of ROS in your trillions of cells. ROS stands for ‘reactive oxygen species.’ These microscopic organisms are a natural byproduct of cellular metabolism.
And similar to cholesterol, ROS isn’t a bad thing; your body needs it to function. In fact, at lower concentrations they participate in basic everyday reactions in your body.
Like cholesterol and candida, though, when there’s too much ROS, problems arise. The overproduction of ROS leads to cellular aging.
It turns out that the components of juniper berry oil keep ROS in check.
The study in “Antioxidants” concludes the components in JEO “enhance, through their antioxidant activity, the oxidative stress resistance of living organisms.”
Simply put, that means it contains antioxidants. And these particular antioxidants in JBO keep your healthy cells from aging before they’re supposed to.
Moreover, the essential oil has a chelating capacity. This means that it binds to harmful substances and drives them out through your elimination system.
In conclusion, the researchers of the study say, “These properties determine its potential for food additive production, an efficient way to improve people’s health and quality of life.”
Also, “it expands its areas of application to perfumery, cosmetics, pharmacy and medicine.”
Pretty strong words for a fruit (ok, technically, seed) that outside of natural health circles is most popular for flavoring alcohol.
More benefits of J. communis
Also, if you have high cholesterol, start planting a J. communis plant. It takes a couple years to produce the berries. But the seeds may help normalize cholesterol levels.
Juniper berry oil for cellulite
All these benefits sound great. But there’s some hype on the blogosphere that this medicinal plant can help reduce cellulite.
Poppycock or legit?
Consider the studies above and others that suggest it fights inflammation. And helps with metabolic issues.
Thus, perhaps it’s not a stretch (no pun intended; stretch marks, get it?) that JBO can reduce cellulite.
After all, cellulite is fatty deposits pushing through the connective tissue beneath the skin. And this study proves that JEO helps form human dermal fibroblasts.
Dermal fibroblasts are cells within the dermis layer of skin. They are responsible for generating connective tissue and allowing the skin to recover from injury.
The researchers conclude JEO is a promising therapeutic candidate for inflammatory conditions in the skin.
Cellulite is an inflammatory condition. So perhaps the remedy does work….
According to a Bustle blogger (try saying that fast 5 times; you’ll most likely end up saying “blah blah” by the end), a unique recipe with juniper essential oil worked for her.
To make the cellulite cream, blend the ingredients in a blender. Store the mix in a sealable jar. Apply it directly on the site of the cellulite.
In addition, the DIY juniper berry oil remedy for cellulite makes for a “delicious all-over body butter, too.”
However, using it doesn’t work for everybody. Take this HuffPost blogger (much easier to say 5 times), who used a combo of JEO and apple cider vinegar to no avail.
[Want to reduce cellulite? Also check out this review on Bellabaci cupping treatment.]
Juniper oil for hair
Like cellulite, there’s online hoopla about using the oil for hair. But is this all-natural remedy any better than, say, marula, coffee, sesame, blackstrap molasses, avocado, babassu, and other natural remedies?
What JBO has going for it is that it contains nutrients that nourish hair. These include calcium, potassium, zinc, B vitamins, and beta-carotene.
But in real life, does it work? Well, according to Dr. Axe, who is becoming a household name in natural health, it’s one of the 7 best essential oils for hair.
Granted, considering Dr. Axe is a chiropractor, not a medical doctor, no MD will take his website’s claim seriously.
However, there is lots of other anecdotal evidence to support the use of JEO for hair.
Juniper oil for weight loss
There’s also reports it can help you lose weight. Primarily, it does this by helping curb appetite.
If you recall from the very beginning of this post, after Snoop Dogg’s infamous quote, it was mentioned that when you’re more relaxed, you don’t eat as much.
So maybe there is some truth in this plant’s potential for helping people lose weight.
[Check out other natural weight loss remedies.]
This brings up an important point if you’re trying to lose weight….
Next time, you’re tempted by a high-sugar snack, take a whiff of your favorite essential oil. Always have some JEO in your car or pocketbook.
And, if it’s a juniper berry oil you can use internally, you can even add it to your recipes.
Now that’s an interesting way to feel laid back…..