Juniper is a powerful diuretic – a herb that increases the flow of urine, helping to cleanse the system of excess fluids and stimulating the kidneys. This causes the body to flush out uric acid and excess crystals that can cause many problems including gout, arthritis and kidney stones.
The Juniper Berry is rich in volatile oils, in particular terpinen-4-ol, which is reported to increase the rate of kidney filtration, which in turn increases urine flow whilst helping to flush out bacteria from the kidneys and bladder. This makes Juniper exceptionally useful in the treatment of urinary tract infections, with some patients reporting relief after just 24-72 hours of use. The British Pharmacopoeia even lists Juniper as a urinary tract disinfectant.
Juniper is widely used in the the treatment of infections, especially within the urinary tract, bladder, kidneys, and prostate. One of the big benefits of juniper berries is that their antiseptic properties help remove waste and acidic toxins from the body, stimulating a fighting action against bacterial and yeast infections.
Juniper Berries contain bitter compounds that stimulate bile flow and the production of digestive enzymes. This allows the body to breakdown foods more easily and enhances nutrient absorption. Due to their astringent properties they are particularly effective at relieving heartburn and other digestive upsets.
Juniper can also be useful in the treatment of upset stomachs, bloating, colitis, gastrointestinal infections, loss of appetite and intestinal worms.
One major benefit of juniper berries is the antioxidants they contain. Antioxidants help your body to prevent and fight disease because they relieve oxidative stress caused by too many free radicals in your system.
Perhaps most significantly, the activity of three extremely important antioxidants in the body is encouraged by juniper berries: superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase and glutathione peroxidase.
Issues with SOD are linked to ALS, Down syndrome, cancers and lung issues. Catalase and SOD both protect against damage from peroxide within the body, while glutathione peroxidase does the same and is associated with helping to prevent and treat cancer and heart disease.
Antioxidants also help to maintain youthful and healthy skin by fighting wrinkles, aiding in cell regeneration and reducing inflammation.
The antibacterial and antifungal qualities of juniper berries have stood the test of time — which is one reason that juniper berry essential oil is often suggested as a natural household cleaning agent.
Juniper berry powerfully destroys candida fungus, which causes an infection responsible for a huge list of side effects.
Juniper also makes an excellent antiseptic in conditions such as cystitis. It was used in the past to treat war injuries to help protect wounds from becoming septic or developing tetanus.
A simple Google search reveals that one of the most common uses for juniper berries, is to treat skin issues like rash or eczema. The antioxidants they contain are probably one major reason this can be effective.
In an examination of how animal wounds healed when treated with juniper berry, researchers discovered that two cultivars of juniper berries “displayed remarkable wound healing and anti-inflammatory activities.” This suggests the ancient use of juniper berries as a skin healer has its roots in scientific fact.
From a lab study in South Korea, it also seems possible that juniper berry extract might be able to help treat skin pigmentation disorders like vitiligo.
If you suffer from psoriasis, acne, rosacea or other skin conditions, juniper berry can quickly reduce inflammation and pain.
Juniper Berries are sometimes referred to as “Nature’s Insulin”, and they have indeed been shown to contain natural insulin that can work in the body just like its pharmaceutical counterpart. Animal research shows that the berries contain certain compounds that increase insulin production, thus lowering blood sugar levels. This could make Juniper Berries a powerful ally when addressing diet controlled (type 2) diabetes.
Though infrequently used as a sedative, it can have certain relaxing effects on the body and mind that make it a great sleep aid.
Probably also due in part to its antioxidant qualities, juniper berries can help to improve heart function. With the ability to increase blood flow and induce contractions of the heart, as well as lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels, these berries can play a significant role in cardiovascular health.
Juniper berry tincture is shown to be very powerful against the parasite that causes leishmaniasis, which is a condition contracted in the tropical regions or southern Europe.
Despite their name, Juniper Berries are not technically a berry, they are actually the female seed cone of the Juniper plant. Native to Europe and UK, they are most famously used to give gin its distinctive flavour. Juniper Berries are classed as a spice and have a long history of traditional use.
Juniper Berries were used traditionally to treat all manner of complaints ranging from kidney infections, urinary tract infections and digestive issues to gout, warts and skin growths. Their antiseptic properties were well known and Juniper tea was once used as a disinfectant for surgeons’ tools.
Back in medieval times Juniper was believed to be a protective herb and was used to ward off witchcraft and black magic. Its aromatic smoke was used for ritual purification and was said to aid in clairvoyance.
Going back even further in time, the ancient Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians were known to have used juniper berries. In fact, the Greeks used juniper berries as an herb for purification ceremonies and to increase physical stamina (particularly for athletes), recording the use of juniper berries as medicine long before they were said to start using the berries as a spice in foods.
The Romans also used juniper berries as a cheaply produced substitute for black pepper, which was expensive to import from India. Juniper berries have even been found in Egyptian tombs; the Egyptians used juniper as a medicinal herb and to embalm the deceased. The earliest recorded medicinal use of Juniper Berries occurs in an Egyptian papyrus dating back to 1500 BCE, in a recipe to cure tapeworm infestations.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) juniper berries have been used for centuries as a stimulant for the kidneys and bladder to flush out impurities and toxins. It has also been used as a general antibiotic herb to heal infections, as well as a digestive tonic for the stomach, intestines, and spleen.
The popularity of this berry is largely due to the health effects it has, derived from its impressive nutrient profile. This results in the anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiseptic, diuretic, and antioxidant properties found in juniper berry.
Other common names: Fairy Circle, Hackmatack, Gin Berry, Horse Savin, Gorst, Genevier, Old Field Common Juniper, Genévrier, Ginepro, Enebro, Gemeiner, Gin plant, Wachholder, Reckholder.
Preparation: Put a teaspoon of juniper berries into a 200ml cup of boiled water. Cover it and let it steep for 10 minutes. Strain and drink a cup three times per day.
Juniper stimulates the contraction of smooth muscles and should therefore not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Do not use Juniper if you are taking prescription medication for diabetes, glucose regulation or hypoglycemia, kidney impairment or liver conditions.
Juniper berries may also interact negatively with certain medications. The berries seem to inhibit a drug metabolizing enzyme in the human body known as CYP3A4. This enzyme metabolizes about half of the drugs on the pharmaceutical market, while the other half of medicines actually inhibit the enzyme. There is a fairly extensive list of medications that could result in toxicity when taken in conjunction with juniper berries. If you are taking any medications, you should first consult with your doctor before using juniper berries or juniper tincture.
FDA Disclaimer: These statements and products have not been evaluated by the FDA. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. If you have a health concern or condition, consult a physician. Always consult a medical doctor before modifying your diet, using any new product, drug, supplement, or doing any new exercises.
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