Juniperus communis, “Common juniper” in English and “Genièvre” in French, belongs to the Cupressaceae botanical family. It is a shrub which can be spreading very low, or reaching up to 10 m high. Indigenous to Europe, northern Asia and North America, it is protected in some European countries.
Due to juniper berries strong flavor, it is used as a spice in culinary preparations and in the manufacture of alcoholic drinks like beer and gin. The drug, made with the fruit or berries, is used as a diuretic and urinary antiseptic – which is however disputed. In folk medicine, it is used as a stomachic, carminative, and as an aromatic in dyspeptic complaints.
Its essential oil (0.5 to 2%) contains mainly monoterpenes : pinene, sabinene, limonene, terpinen-4-ol etc., sesquiterpenes (guaiazulene, caryophyllene), phenols and esters. Further, invert sugar, catechol tannins, flavonoids (cupressuflavone, hinokiflavone) and leucoanthocyanidins.