Introducing Juniper – Juniperus communis
A sneak peak excerpt from our upcoming Yogi’s Apothecary
According to Nicolas Culpeper, there is no better plant than Juniper for releasing wind in the body. In one’s yogic journey it is a plant extremely helpful for the physical body by strengthening assimilation (supporting indigestion and flatulence) and release (supporting the channels of purification). The power of Juniper lies in its aromatic oils and prabhav (unique actions), stimulating the body’s ability to purify, release metabolic waste and fight pathogens.
For those interested in Sanskrit this puts Juniper in the realms of supporting Samana and Apana Vayus, the energies that govern assimilation + elimination.
On a spiritual and psychic level, Juniper has been used for thousands of years as a smoke and sacred water, for helping to cleanse and protect one from negative energies. These negative energies can take on the form of “thought pathogens” or “mental parasites,” by being susceptible to incoming influences or negativity distilled from chronic indigestion.
Juniper is a wonderful ally for meditation, for this protective and cleansing nature of internal and external negativity. It is also supportive of the physical body (opening up the channels and pathways, enlivening vital life force energy) to be able to sit longer and enjoy one’s asana practice with ease. It is also energizing for the mind, helping to increase one’s focus for meditation (without over stimulating) as Juniper strengthens the function of both the brain and the nerves.
In Tantra, plants such as this that strengthen the Solar Plexus, mind and nerves hold great value. This is why JUNIPER should be in one’s Yogic Apothecary!!
Where to find: You may be lucky and have Juniper growing in your yard or around your neighborhood. I wouldn’t doubt it if you live outside of a major city. Find someone who can help you identify this plant and harvest the blue/purple berries. Leave the green berries to ripen on the plant. If you cannot access wild cultivated Juniper, try your local Co-op (it is always best to support local as well as to receive locally grown foods/medicines) or order from a reputed company such as Mountain Rose Herbs.
Preparation + dose: As an infusion, 1tsp berries (best to crush them a bit first in a mortar and pestle or with a spoon) to 1 cup hot water (or 1oz to one pint) before or after meals 1-3x/day. They are delicious solo in a mug without any other green allies. As an essential oil: smell the oil prior to and after eating, or prior to meditation. Sit back and enjoy/observe the effects.
Contraindications: Do not take if you are pregnant or have chronic or acute kidney disease as the volatile oils will be too harsh on your body.