It took me ten years to figure out that I had a hidden treasure in my garden. I remember juniper bushes from my childhood in the 1970’s. They were a popular landscaping bush, adding texture and shape to the yard. They are considered to be drought tolerant and fast growing, As bushes they fill in large spaces, are evergreen all year round and create a barrier. But eventually they becoming invasive, hard to remove/kill, requires skill to trim/groom, and leaving “splinters” under /an allergic rash on the skin. Juniper is no longer as popular. They are disliked for many reasons and people regret having these “ugly” bushes as ancient stubborn tenants. All these features alone should have been a clue to the powerful healing potential that this species has. But I had to learn about it late in life from my recent studies in traditional medicine of the Southwest.
It started with a liniment. An experiment and resolve that nothing in my garden that has the ability to heal should ever go to waste. Juniper in combination with other herbs like mugwort helped me to heal from a really bad fall last summer. External application resolved the immediate bruising and swelling. Over time it helped heal the injury to muscle, bone, and ligaments. It especially helped with circulation, inflammation and pain. I have come to respect and appreciate the juniper bushes in my yard. I can’t imagine cutting them down and removing the roots with machinery. I have found a way to include them in my plan for the healing garden.
Juniper berry tea is thought to help the kidneys to purify the blood and remove wastes from the body. It may support the body to clear toxic chemical residue from the lungs of smokers. Inhaling the steam from an infusion has been used to treat respiratory infections. The berries have a long culinary history as providing flavor to meat and vegetable dishes . They are a digestive aid and stimulate the appetite. Juniper makes a good gargle for a sore throat. However because it is so powerful it should only be used under the supervision of a healthcare provider for internal use.
Did you know that juniper tea was used to disinfect surgical equipment in the past? During epidemics the smoke was used to purify homes and buildings. Juniper is burned all over the world to protect and create sacred space . Growing up in New Mexico I associate the smell of burning cedar, juniper or pinon with winter. It brings to mind walks during cold, crisp nights. I can’t help but think of Christmas shopping in Sante Fe, and many other childhood memories. I do not burn candles or processed incense but lately I have been using a lot of juniper and other dried herbs. I feel comforted knowing the healing properties in the smoke may be killing germs and purifying my environment. I believe that its energy is protecting my family and I feel less stressed due to the associations the smell brings to mind.
What things are you doing to create a healthy space in your home right now?