From London's Ghost Acres

This entry deals with the Juniper berries, and how they were used in medicine. Although the Pharmacopeia includes an entry for Savin Tops (the fresh and dried tops of Juniperus Sabina, they have not been included).

Juniper berries were used as a diuretic (increasing the secretion of urine), but could also be used as a stomachic, carminative, and diaphoretic.

British Pharmacopoeia 1867

Savin Tops Sabinea Cacumina

“The fresh and dried tops of Juniperus Sabina… Collected in spring from plants cultivated in Britain.”


“Twigs densely covered with minute imbricated appressed leave in four rows; odour strong, peculiar, and unpleqasant; taste acrid, bitter, resinous, and disagreeable.” Given in dose of 4-10 grain (in powder). Used in the preparations of:[1]

  • Oleum Sabine, from fresh plant
  • Tinctura Sabinae
  • Unguentum Sabinae
  • these preparations are not included in preparations of Juniper, as this type of Juniper is not imported? More research needed in types of Juniper (Wikipedia says 50-67 species of Juniperus)

Preparations of Juniper

Oil of Juniper / Oleum Juniperi[2]

  • “The oil distilled in Britain from the unripe fruit of Juniperus communis… Colourless or pale greenish-yell, of a Sweetish odour, and warm aromatic taste.”
  • used in the preparations of: Spiritus Juniperi

Creasote Mixture / Mistura Creasoti [3]

  • creastoe (16 miims), glacial Acetic Acid (16 minims), spirit of juniper (1/2 fl drachm), syrup (1 fl oz), distilled water (15 fl oz)
  • dose: 1-2 fl oz

Spirit of Juniper / Spiritus Juniperi [4]

  • Oil of Juniper (1 fl oz), rectified spirit (49 fl oz)
  • dose: ½-1 fl drachm
  • used in preparations of: mistura creasoti

A Compendium of Domestic Medicine, 1865

Savory classifies juniper as a Diuretic (Remedies Which Cause an Increased Secretion of Urine) [5]

Juniper berries are diuretic, but can also be prepared as stomachic, carminatives, and diaphoretics. Linnaeus stated that Swedes would make a beer from the berries that was found to be effective against scorbutic cases. The barriers can also be used to treat “colicky complaints,” or to assist older individuals urinate. [6]

Remedies Containing or to be used with Juniper

  • Elaterium: treatment for dropsy administered in juniper tea[7]
  • Juniper Berries: see def[8]
  • Kreosote, or Creasote: compound spirit of juniper can be combined along with other ingredients to administer creosote[9]
  • Nitre: compound spirit of juniper is included in a “Diuretic Mixture”[10]
  • Oil of Juniper: stimulant, carminative, and stomachic. “Oil of Juniper gives the flavour to what is termed in this country as gin, and which was originally an imitation of Hollands, and was also rectified from juniper; but the greater part of the gin now used is made from Scotch and Irish whisky rectified on turpentine.”[11]
  • Tincture of Buchu Leaves: oil of juniper included in “Buchu Mixture,” used to treat urinary irritation, gravel, spasmodic strictures, gleet, fluor albus, &c.[12]

Diseases Treated with Juniper

General Diseases

  • Headache: spirit of juniper combined with an infusion of buchu and soap-lees has been recorded to sometimes provide relief.[13]

Medical Articles Containing Juniper

  • Infusion of Juniper: juniper berries [14]

Prescriptions Containing Juniper


  • Diuretic Mixture (Another): bruised juniper berries, and spirit of juniper[15]
  • Diuretic Pill (Another): oil of juniper[16]


  1. General Medical Council of Great Britain, British Pharmacopeia, (London: Spottiswoode & Co.,1867), 272
  2. GMCGB, 223
  3. GMCGB, 209
  4. GMCGB, 296
  5. Savory, John. A Compendium of Domestic Medicine (London: John Churchill and Sons, 1865), 392.
  6. Savory, 90
  7. Savory, 66
  8. Savory, 89-90
  9. Savory, 91
  10. Savory, 104
  11. Savory, 108
  12. Savory, 155
  13. Savory, 236
  14. Savory, 289
  15. Savory, 235
  16. Savory, 326

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