The juniper berry is derived from the evergreen juniper tree and has many beneficial uses due to its warming, disinfecting and stimulating features. The berry, which contains essential oils, antioxidants, fibre and Vitamin C among other things, can be consumed in teas or applied to the skin and has long been used for its health benefits.
Consumption of juniper berries removes uric acid from the body, makes the kidneys move fluids faster and causes the body to produce more urine. As such, it is frequently used for the treatment of kidney, bladder and urinary tract infections and for relief from water retention problems. The juniper berry is also used as an anti-inflammatory aid for arthritis and gout sufferers since it can relieve the pressures of water retention around the joints.
Juniper berries can also be used as a digestion aid, increasing the appetite, relieving gas and easing bloating, belching, heartburn and intestinal cramping by increasing the production of gastric acid. Insufficient levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach can lead to incomplete digestion which can result in all the problems previously stated.
Evidence suggests that juniper berries can additionally help relieve menstrual cramps and even improve the uterus tone of those suffering from late or slow starting periods.
Juniper berry consumption has been reported to aid people in several other areas. It is said to reduce the effects of ageing and chronic illness by stimulating tissue and organ tone; aid in weight loss by cleansing the body of toxins; relieve the pain of those with nerve and tendon disorders; and help in healing the pancreas and lowering blood sugar due to its high concentrations of insulin.
Essential oils derived from juniper berries have many additional uses. They can ease toothache, strengthen gums and help prevent hair loss. They are used to treat lung congestion, coughs and respiratory infections since the oils ease the bronchial passages and expel mucus. They are also applied to skin ailments such as dandruff, athlete’s foot, psoriasis and acne. Their antiseptic effect means they can also provide relief for sufferers of cystitis and urethritis.
Some studies have shown that juniper berries have anti-microbial properties. It seems likely that the oils can fight bacteria and fungi. However, more research is needed before this can be conclusively proven.
To conclude, the juniper berry is useful in many areas of health. However, there are also some dangers in consuming them. They can reduce the ability of the body to absorb iron and other minerals; exacerbate kidney problems; lower fertility; and cause miscarriage. Overdoses can result in kidney pain, diarrhoea, purple tinted urine, high blood pressure and increased heart beat. Nevertheless, when used safely and in moderation the juniper berry has many benefits.