Western Juniper Medicinal and Other Uses

Western juniper was quite widely used as a medicinal herb by a number of native North American tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints, especially those related to the kidneys and the skin.  It is rarely, if at all, used in modern herbalism.

The leaves themselves were used to treat constipation, coughs, and colds.  And, the leaves were taken by pregnant women prior to giving birth in order to relax the muscles.  Also, a poultice of the pounded moistened leaves was applied to the jaw to treat swollen and sore gums and toothaches.

Externally, the leaves were used as a poultice on smallpox, and the flu. The berries were used as a poultice on rheumatic joints.  The young twigs were used in the treatment of kidney problems, fevers, stomach aches, smallpox and the flu.  The older branches were used in a sweat bath to ease rheumatism.  A poultice of the twigs has been used as a dressing for burns and as a drawing agent on boils or splinters.  The leaves or young twigs have been burnt and the smake inhaled to ease the pain of headaches.  As I have already stated, Western juniper is rarely, if at all, used in modern herbalism.  You should always seek advice from a professional before using any plant medicinally.

The bark itself is used as a tinder and is also made into a slow match.  The crushed bark was twisted into something resembling a rope, tied at intervals and wrapped into a coil.  The free end was set on fire and kept smoldering by periodically blowing on it at intervals.  Fire could be carried this way for several hours and then the process repeated as necessary. The bark can be wound around a stick and used as a torch to provide light and carry fire too.  The bark can also be rubbed between the hands until it is soft and the fibres can then be woven into clothing, rugs, and footwear like sandals.