You may not be familiar with the juniper berry, but if you’ve ever indulged in a spot of gin, you will recognize the piney flavor of juniper. The first thing to know about the juniper berry is that it is not actually a true berry, but rather a cone with a berry-like appearance.
Not surprisingly, juniper also has a long medicinal history. Interestingly enough, the ancient Greeks recorded using juniper berries as a medicine long before mentioning their use of the berry in food. They also used the berries in many of their Olympic events because they believed that they helped increase physical stamina in athletes.
Today, you’ll find the berries used as a spice in northern European and Scandinavian cuisine. They can also be found in some beauty products like lipstick, foundation, eye shadow, hair conditioner, bubble bath, and bath oil. As with most herbs, juniper berries also have vast medicinal uses as well.
Juniper for Kidney Health
Contemporary herbalists primarily use a juniper diuretic ("water pill") as a component of herbal formulas designed to treat bladder infections. The volatile oils, particularly terpinen-4-ol, reportedly increase the rate of kidney filtration, thereby increasing urine flow and perhaps helping to "wash out" offending bacteria. According to some sources, Juniper increases urine volume without a loss of electrolytes such as potassium. It is recommended by the German Commission E for kidney ailments.
Juniper for Urinary & Reproductive System Health
Juniper uses also include 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. These are just a few of the reasons why you’ll find juniper berries in both Jon Barron’s KGP Flush kidney cleanse formula and his Liver Flush Tea formula.
Juniper for the Digestive System
Juniper Berries also help increase the flow of digestive fluids, improving digestion and eliminating gas and stomach cramping. As a natural health remedy, a Juniper diuretic can help eliminate excess water retention, contributing to weight loss. In addition, the berries also have anti-inflammatory properties that are ideal for relieving pain and inflammation related to rheumatism and arthritis. And juniper Berries are also beneficial in reducing congestion, as well as treating asthma and colds.
Juniper for Infections & Bacteria
As already mentioned, the herb has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Researchers at the Shiraz University of Medical Sciences say that juniper berry can combat the bacteria responsible for not only E. coli, pneumonia, and gonorrhea, but also Staphylococcus aureus, a common antibiotic-resistant infection (MRSA) that people can acquire in hospitals.
Juniper as an Antiseptic
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.
More Health Benefits of Juniper
The herb is also credited with the following health benefits:
- Antispasmodic - effective on nearly all forms of cramps
- Carminative - helps in the removal of gases from the intestines
- Depurative - blood detoxifier and purifier
- Stimulant - stimulates activities within the body
- Stomachic - aids in stomach functioning
- Tonic - tones body systems
How to Use Juniper
You can find juniper berries fresh or dried as well as a supplement or as an oil. Note: the essential oil present in this herb is quite stimulating to the kidney nephrons. Some texts warn that juniper oil may be a kidney irritant at higher doses, but there is no real evidence that this is the case. Nonetheless, people with serious kidney disease probably shouldn't take juniper.
Learn more about kidney health and the benefits of a kidney detox.