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Juniper Berry Overview

Juniper Berry Overview

Juniper (Juniperus Communis) is a shrub that grows across North America, Europe and Asia. There are approximately sixty species of juniper worldwide, which grow primarily in the Northern Hemisphere. Juniper are often used in Traditional Medicine for:

  • cystitis
  • renal congestion
  • bladder and kidney problems
  • urinary tract infections

General Information of Juniper Berry

The juniper berry grows on the juniper shrub from approximately September to December. Throughout history, the juniper berry has been used in Traditional Medicine practices by North American indigenous peoples to treat kidney stones, inflammation, and headaches, among other ailments. In traditional Swedish medicine, juniper fruit has been used to treat wounds and inflammatory diseases (DerMarderosian & Beutler 2004).

Health benefits of juniper berry may include antibacterial properties, which make the herb effective at treating cystitis and infections of the bladder and urinary tract (Blumenthal et al 2000). The berry also has diuretic and antiseptic properties, and is high in antioxidants and vitamin C. 

The ethanolic extracts of the juniper herb have demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects (Bradley 2006), while the presence of terpinen-4-ol, a volatile oil, is responsible for juniper’s diuretic effects. 

Health Canada (2019a) monograph acknowledges the use of juniper  Herbal Medicine as a diuretic and as a urinary tract antiseptic to help relieve benign urinary tract infections.

What Is Juniper Berry Used for?

In The New Healing Herbs, author Michael Castleman writes that juniper is recommended “externally as an antiseptic and internally for bladder infections, arthritis, intestinal cramps, and gout.” Castleman also writes that juniper “contains terpinen-4-ol, a diuretic compound that increases the fluid-filtering rate of the kidneys. This supports the herb’s traditional role as a diuretic.” Juniper is also used in some culinary applications, most famously to flavour gin. 

Uses & Effectiveness of Juniper Berry

Uses & Effectiveness of Juniper Berry

Juniper’s antiseptic, diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties make it useful in Traditional and modern herbal medicine for:

  • cystitis
  • renal congestion
  • catarrh of the bladder
  • the treatment of wounds and inflammatory diseases
  • urinary tract infections
  • bladder and kidney problems

Bradley 2006; Blumenthal et al. 2000; DerMarderosian & Beutler 2004

Precautions of Juniper Berry

Long-term use of juniper should be avoided, as it can cause kidney problems and seizures. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take juniper. Because juniper may affect blood sugar and blood pressure, it should be avoided by those who have diabetes, have high blood pressure, and are planning to have or have recently had surgery. Individuals with stomach or intestinal disorders may find that juniper’s properties as an irritant worsen these disorders. (Source)

Herbal Benefits of Juniper Berry

Herbal Benefits of Juniper Berry

1) Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

The use of the juniper berry in combination with other herbs and botanicals is considered helpful in the treatment of bladder and kidney problems, including urinary tract infections. As a diuretic, the juniper berry can help flush the urinary tract, which helps eliminate the harmful bacteria that cause urinary tract infections (Blumenthal et al. 2000). 

2) Urinary Tract Antiseptic

The juniper plant is known to have antiseptic and diuretic properties. The antiseptic nature of juniper makes it helpful in targeting the harmful bacteria that cause urinary tract infections.

3) Kidney and Bladder Stones

Juniper has been shown to help relieve renal congestion cases and help relieve kidney and bladder stones (Ellingwood 1919). 

4) Provide Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Effects

The juniper berry has proven anti-inflammatory effects, which may make it helpful in treating arthritis and managing pain and discomfort caused by other inflammatory diseases and conditions. Its powerful antioxidant properties help protect against the free radicals that play a role in heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.

5) Skin Health

The antibacterial and antifungal properties of juniper may make it an effective defense against skin conditions such as yeast infections or ringworm and bacteria that grow on skin, such as staph (Pepeljnjak et al 2005). 

Juniper Aromatherapy Benefits

The juniper berry has a pleasant, pine-like scent, which is slightly spicy and woody. In aromatherapy, juniper essential oil can be grounding and relaxing, helping to increase a sense of calm and overall wellbeing.

 

FAQs

 

How Do You Use Juniper Leaves?

Unlike the berry, juniper leaves are not commonly used for medicinal purposes. The leaves can be hung and dried for decorative purposes, and burned for aromatherapy

Can You Drink Juniper Tea?

Yes, you can drink juniper tea. A tea made from the steeped, crushed berries of the juniper plant can be effective at treating stomach upset, inflammation, kidney issues, and urinary tract infections. 

Is Juniper Good for Hair?

Juniper’s antibacterial and antifungal properties can help treat a number of issues of the head and scalp. As an essential oil, its antiseptic and antifungal properties, in particular, may help treat and relieve dandruff. 

Isn’t Juniper Toxic to the Kidneys?

Juniper is safe for the kidneys in small to moderate doses, for short periods of time. However, toxicity has been discovered at very high doses

How to Make Juniper Berry Tea?

Juniper berries can be prepared into a healthful, soothing tea. To do so, steep ½ teaspoon of dried juniper berries in two cups of boiling water for ten minutes, then strain.