Juniper Berry Oil
Juniperus indica in wild habitat
Botanical Name:Juniperus wallichiana Hook.f. & Thomas. ex Brandis
English Name:Juniper, Black Juniper
Juniperus indica is a large deciduous shrub or small tree, ultimate branchlets densely arranged, straight, usually 4 angled. Leaves both scale like and awl or needle like; awl-like leaves 3-6mm, awl like leaves 3-6mm, spreading, present on lower branches; scale like leaves less than 1.5mm, over lapping in four ranks, present on terminal branches. Seed cone ovoid, 6-13mm, erect, greenish brown when young, later turns to blue. Fruiting occurs during May-August.
Juniperus indica is a Sinu-Japanese element and found throughout Nepal within the altitudinal range of 3300m to 4500m. It prefers open and rocky slopes and sometimes forms pure forest on lower sub-alpine regions.
Juniper oil is extracted from the steam distillation of leaves, aerial twigs and berries of Juniperus indica. Yield percentage of Juniper oil ranged from 0.8% to 1.6% in fruits and 0.27% to 0.8% on berries on fresh weight basis.
Other Varieties as Source of Adulteration As it is hard to differentiate between Juniperus communis and J. indica; leaves, aerial twigs and berries of J. communis are unknowingly mixed with J. indica. Juniper oil is also extracted from J. recurva Buch.-Ham. ex D. Don.
Traditionally, fruits and leaves are used in kidney disorders, skin disease, fever, cold and cough, and wounds. Leaves are also used in diarrhoea, constipation, asthma and are regarded beneficial to heart and to relax the mind. Leaves and twigs are highly praised as incense in the monasteries.
Juniper oil is an important natural product used directly in fragrance compounding. The oil is used to scent pharmaceutical preparations, as well as in cosmetic products such as soaps, disinfectants, perfumery etc. The oil is extensively used in many food products, alcoholic and soft drinks. Juniper berry oil is used to flavour the alcoholic beverage ‘Gin’. The oil is found to have diuretic and antiseptic properties.
Appearance:A mobile liquid
Aroma :Sweet, fresh, wood balsamic odour.
Specific gravity:0.8563 to 0.8731 at 23° C.
Optical rotation:[-] 22° to [-] 41.7° at 23° C
Refractive index:1.481 to 1.899 at 23° C
Acid number:0.5 to 2.5
Ester number:3.06 to 20
Ester number after acetylation:40 to 65
Solubility :Due to altitudinal and regional variation some oils are soluble in 95% alcohol and some are not
Juniper berry oil: Sabinene (19.4-31.3%), β-Thujone (4.5-25.8%), terpinen-4-ol (3.7-13%), trans-sabinyl acetate (7.6-24.3%), α-pinene, camphene, myrcene, α-pellandrene, α-terpinene, γ-terpinene, 1,4-cineol, bornyl acetate and caryophyllene are identified as the major constituents in the Juniper berry oil.
Juniper berry oil: Major compounds are α-pinene, β-phellandrene, myrcene, δ-3-carene and limonene. Sesquiterpenes are present as minor compounds, dominated by γ-murolene, α-selinene and δ-cadinene.
It is listed as lower risk/least concerned species under the IUCN red list.