Wednesday, June 21, 2017 by Frances Bloomfield
Juniper berries (Juniperus communis) are the tiny, female pine cones of the juniper bush, an evergreen shrub native to the northern hemisphere. The berries are not true berries, but are conifers with minuscule, dark blue-black scales that have fused and become fleshy. Juniper berries are often used as a key ingredient in European and Indian cuisine, and as a component of various medicinal remedies from as far back as the 17th century. Juniper berries go by many names, including “horse savin”, “wachholder”, “fairy circle”, and “gin berry”.
Essential oils give juniper berries their bitter flavor and turpentine-like pungency. These same essential or volatile oils carry healthful substances like:
Additionally, juniper berries are low in fat and carbohydrates yet contain a score of vitamins and minerals, such as:
Juniper berries are notable as a treatment for urinary tract disorders and infections like urethritis and cystitis. They possess diuretic and antiseptic properties, explaining their use in remedies for kidney and bladder disorders, and urinary problems in general.
In the past and well into the present, juniper berries are used take care of a wide spectrum of physical ailments, namely:
Juniper berries aid the urinary tract (which is comprised of the bladder, kidneys, urethra, and ureters) by boosting the filtration rate of the kidneys, disinfecting the entire urinary tract, and by diluting urine.
The other body systems and organs that can benefit from juniper berries include:
Herbalists typically use juniper berries as an extract, a tincture, an essential oil, or a tisane. If juniper berries are taken in a tisane, one common dosage is two or three spoonfuls of crushed berries steeped in hot water for 10 minutes. The berries themselves can be crushed and applied to the skin to treat aching joints or wounds.
Juniper berries do well as part of desserts and breakfast items. They can be turned into jams, pies, or pancakes. Besides sweet dishes, juniper can be used in more savory fare as well. Their tart and sharp flavors make them a perfect brine or marinade for meats and fish.
Note: A tisane of juniper berries should not be taken for more than six weeks.
Juniper berries posses average antibacterial, anti-mucus, and anti-fungal qualities.
Thanks to their carminative and diuretic properties, juniper berries can be used to maintain digestive health.
Additionally, they can act as an average urinary antiseptic.
One traditional use for juniper berries has been as a treatment for intestinal infections.
Juniper berries have elevated levels of antioxidants and unsaturated fat that can protect the body from free radicals.
The essential oil version, in particular, has been noted for its impressive antioxidant effects.
Juniper have been used to heal skin blemishes like acne; this is because juniper berries have astringent characteristics in addition to their antiseptic ones.
Although healthful plants overall, there are certain peoples who are advised against juniper berries because of their potential side effects. Pregnant and nursing women, people struggling with kidney diseases or infections, and diabetic or hypoglycemic patients should avoid juniper berries.
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