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105. Juniperus communis, Linn.—Common Juniper.

Sub-order II. Cupresseae.

Ovules erect; pollen spheroidal.


105. Juniperus communis, Linn.—Common Juniper.

Sex. Syst. Dioecia, Monadelphia.
(Fructus; et Oleum e fructu destillatum, L.—Cacumina; Fructus; Oleum, E.—Cacumina; Baccae, D.)
[Juniperus. The fruit of Juniperus Communis, U. S.]

History.—The tree which in our translation of the Bible [Job, xxx. 4; 1 Kings, xix 4.] is called the juniper, is supposed to have been a leguminous plant, either broom or furse (genista vel ulex).

Juniperus communis is a native of Greece, and must, therefore, have been known to the ancient Greeks. Sibthorp [Prod. Fl. Graecae.] thinks that it may perhaps be the αρχευθος μιχρα of Dioscorides, [Lib. i. cap. 103.] a name which Fraas [Synopsis Plant. Fl. Classicae, p. 259, 1845.] considers to have been applied to Juniperus oxycedrus. The last-mentioned authority is of opinion that the χεδρος μιχρα of Dioscorides [Ibid. 105.] is our juniper. The fruit mentioned in the Hippocratic writings under the name of αρχευθις, and which was used in some disorders of females, was the produce of a species of Juniperus; perhaps, of the J. phoenicia, which is very common in Greece and the islands of the Archipelago, and whose fruit is yellowish, but has the size, form, and powers of that of the common juniper.

Botany. Gen. Char.—Dioecious, rarely monoecious. Males: Catkins ovate; the scales verticillate, peltate-pedicellate. Anthers 4 to 8, unilocular. Females: Catkins globose; the 3 concave scales united. Stigma gaping. Galbulus composed of the united and fleshy scales, and containing 3 triquetrous osseous seeds.

Sp. Char.—Leaves 3 in each whorl, spreading, linear-subulate, keeled, mucronate, longer than the galbulus.

Fig. 283. Female flower and fruit of Juniperus com... A bushy shrub. Leaves evergreen, numerous, with a broad, flat, shallow channel above, the keel beneath with a slender furrow, pungent, glaucous on the upper side, dark green beneath. Fbwers axillary, sessile, small; the males discharging a copious cloud of yellow pollen: females green, on scaly stalks. Fruit commonly called a berry, but is in reality that kind of cone called by botanists a galbulus, which has fleshy coalescent carpella, whose heads are much enlarged. It requires two seasons to arrive at maturity. The galbulus is black tinged with blue, and is scarcely more than half the length of the leaves.

Loudon [Arboretum, vol. iv. p. 2489.] mentions no less than seven varieties; but some of these are probably distinct species.

Juniperus nana (Smith), Dwarf Alpine Juniper, has a procumbent stem; imbricated, incurved, linear-lanceolate leaves; and fruit nearly as long as the leaves.—Indigenous. On mountains.

Hab.—North of Europe. Indigenous, growing on hills and healthy downs, especially where the soil is chalky. It flowers in May.

Description.—In this country the fruit and tops, and on the continent, the wood, are officinal.

Juniper berries (baccae juniperi), as the dried fruit of the shops is commonly termed, are about the size of a pea, of a blackish-purple colour, covered by a glaucous bloom. They are marked superiorly with a triradiate groove, indicating the adhesion of the succulent carpella; inferiorly with the bracteal scales, which assume a stellate form (see Fig. 283, e and f). They contain three seeds. Their taste is sweetish, with a terebinthinate flavour; their odour is agreeable and balsamic.

Juniper tops (cacumina seu summitates juniperi) have a bitter terebinthinate flavour and a balsamic odour.

Juniper wood (lignum juniperi) is obtained either from the stem or root; it evolves a balsamic odour in burning, and, by distillation with water, yields volatile oil. On old stems there is sometimes found a resinous substance (resina juniperi; sandaraca germanica).

Samiahach or Juniper Resin.—The resin called sandarach (sandaraca), or gum juniper (gummi juniperi), is imported from Mogadore. It is the produce of Callitris quadrivalvis, Vent. (Thuja articulata, Desf). Though sold by chemists and apothecaries, it is not employed in medicine. It is used in the manufacture of varnishes. Its powder is pounce.

Commerce.—Juniper berries are imported in bags and barrels from Rotterdam, Hamburgh, Leghorn, Trieste, and other European ports. In 1838, duty was paid on 5896 cwts.

Composition.—Juniper berries were analyzed in 1822 by Trommsdorff, [Gmelin's Handb. d. Chem. ii. 1330.] and in 1831 by Nicolet. [Thomson's Organic Chemistry, p. 899.] Trommsdorff obtained volatile oil 1.0, wax 4.0, resin 10.0, a peculiar species of sugar with acetate and malate of lime 33.8, gum with salts of potash and lime 7.0, lignin 35.0, water 12.9 (=103.7, excess 3.7).

1. Oil of Juniper (see below).

2. Resin.—Is green, according to Trommsdorff. Nicolet obtained it in the crystallized state, and found it to consist of C5H2O1.

3. Wax.—Is brittle. Consists, according to Nicolet, of C13H8 ½O4.

4. Sugar.—Is crystallizable, and analogous to grape sugar, according to Trommsdorff. But Nicolet describes it as being like molasses.

Physiological Effects.—Juniper berries and tops are analogous in their operation to the terebinthinate substances. Three ounces of the berries act on the larger herbivorous animals as a diuretic. [Moiroud, Pharm. Vétér.] On man, also, these fruits operate on the urinary organs, promoting the secretion of urine, to which they communicate a violet odour. [Cargillus, in Ray, Hist. Plant. t. ii. p. 1412.] In large doses they occasion irritation of the bladder and heat in the urinary passages. Piso [Murray, App. Med.] says their continued use causes bloody urine. They promote sweat, relieve flatulency, and provoke the catamenia. Their activity is principally dependent on the volatile oil which they contain, and which, according to Mr. Alexander's experiments, [Experimental Essays, p. 149, 1768.] is, in doses of four drops, the most powerful of all the diuretics. [See his Table, at p. 251.]

Uses.—Juniper berries or oil are but little used in medicine. They may be employed, either alone or as adjuncts to other diuretic medicines, in dropsical disorders indicating the employment of renal stimuli. Van Swieten [Commentaries, English edit. 12mo. vol. xii. p. 431.] speaks favourably of their use in mild cases of ascites and anasarca. In some affections of the urino-genital apparatus juniper may be employed with advantage. Thus in mucous discharges (as gonorrhoea, gleet, leucorrhcea, and cystirrhoea) it may be used under the same regulations that govern the employment of copaiba and the terebinthinates. Hecker [Anweisung. d. vener. Krankh. quoted by Voigtels, Arzneim. Bd. ii. Abt. 2, S. 510.] praised it in the first stage of gonorrhoea.

Juniper has been advised in some other diseases, but I do not think it necessary to enumerate them. [Consult on this subject, Vogt, Lehrb. d. Pharmakodyn.; Richter, Arzneimittell.; and Sundelin, Spec. Heilmittell.]

Administration.—The dose of the berries is one or two drachms, triturated with sugar. The infusion (prepared with an ounce of the berries and a pint of boiling water) is a more convenient mode of exhibition; the dose is f℥iv every four houri.

1. OLEUM JUNIPERI, E. D. [U. S.]; Oleum Juniperi (Anglicum), L.; Oil of Juniper; English Oil of Juniper.—Is obtained by submitting the fruit, tops, or wood, to distillation with water. The full-grown green fruit yields more than the ripe fruit, for, in the act of ripening, a portion of the oil becomes converted into resin. It is limpid, transparent, nearly colourless, and lighter than water, and causes the left-handed rotation of polarized light—in this respect agreeing with French oil of turpentine. It has the odour of the fruit and an aromatic balsamic taste. It dissolves with difficulty in alcohol. According to Blanchet, it consists of two isomeric oils, carburets of hydrogen, C20H16: one colourless, and more volatile: a second coloured, and less volatile. Both, when agitated with a solution of salt, form crystalline hydrates. The more volatile oil almost entirely constitutes the oil obtained from the ripe fruit. It is soluble in alcohol and in hydrochloric acid, with which it forms a liquid artificial camphor. Its density is 0.839.

The oil is, perhaps, the best form for exhibiting juniper. The dose is two to six drops, either in the form of pill or diffused through water by the aid of sugar and mucilage.

Oleum empyreumaticum Juniperi.—By the dry distillation of the wood of Juniperus Oxycedrus there is obtained, in France, a tarry oil called huile de cade (oleum cadinum). It is a brownish, inflammable liquid, having a strong empyreumatic and resinous odour, and an acrid caustic taste. It is employed in veterinary medicine; to cure ulcers in horses, and, formerly, to cure the itch in sheep. Oil of tar, which is often substituted for it, is considered to be inferior. It has also been used in the human subject, both externally and internally; in obstinate skin diseases, worms, toothache, &c. Dose, a few drops.

2. SPIRITUS JUNIPERI COMPOSITUS, L. E.; Compound Spirit of Juniper.—(Oil of Juniper fℨss; Oil of Caraway, Oil of Fennel, of each ♏xij [♏x, U. S.]; Proof Spirit, Cong. j. Dissolve, L.—Juniper Berries, bruised, lb j; Fennel bruised, and Caraway bruised, of each ℥iss; Proof Spirit Ovij; Water Oij. Macerate the fruits in the spirit for two days, add the water, and distil off seven pints, E.)— This preparation, when sweetened, may be regarded as an officinal substitute for genuine Hollands and English gin, both of which compounds are flavoured with juniper. It is used as an adjunct to diuretic mixtures. The dose is fℨij to fℨiv.


The Elements of Materia Medica and Therapeutics, Vol. II, 3th American ed., was written by Jonathan Pereira in 1854.



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