Juniper: what it is and its health benefits

This content is part of the Alternative Medicine category and may contain information that lacks scientific studies and/or medical consensus.

Juniper is a medicinal plant that produces small dark colored fruits, similar to grapes, which are used in the preparation of juices or teas. The seeds of these fruits, when dried, become a flavorful and very aromatic seasoning.

An essential oil, known as juniper oil, can also be extracted from these fruits, which works as a potent diuretic and digestive tonic.

But not only that, the extract of this plant is still used as a tranquilizer , to relieve the symptoms of arthritis and also in the treatment of respiratory infections.

To explain all these benefits, Remédio Caseiro invited the naturopath specialist in phytotherapy, acupuncture and iridology, Danilo Ramon, who will also indicate how to consume and what care is needed with the herb. Check out!

What exactly is juniper?

According to the specialist in herbal medicine, Danilo Ramon, juniper is a plant with fruits similar to grapes and very dark in color. These fruits are small, fleshy and have a bitter taste.

Scientifically called Juniperus communis, this shrub is also known by names like juniper, juniper or geneva and is more common to be found in cold countries on the European continent.

An article published in the Journal of Ecology ( 1 ) describes the juniper as a small shrub tree, which can reach between 11 and 17 meters in height and has a very dark reddish brown bark. The leaves are small, thin and long, like those of pine trees.

What are its health benefits?

Treats and Alleviates Arthritis Symptoms

“Juniper is anti-rheumatic and, as it eliminates uric acid, it brings benefits to other problems that affect the joints”, said the professional about the berries, which are also astringent and depurative.

That is, they help to clear the blood of toxins related to inflammatory joint problems, such as the aforementioned uric acid.

In addition, a 2017 survey, published in the scientific journal Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, defended the berry’s potential in the treatment of arthritis because of its rich composition in several compounds with anti-inflammatory properties . Like flavonoids, terpenes and some types of essential oils. In the laboratory, these substances reduced the symptoms of so-called rheumatic diseases, especially arthritis, an inflammatory disease that affects the joints. ( 2 )

Another research, done at the University of Jadavpur, India, proved that juniper still serves to relieve pain caused by inflammation, acting in a similar way to aspirin in the body. ( 3 )

Stimulates digestion

You know that feeling of a heavy stomach after a Sunday lunch? That’s right, consuming juniper berries can help eliminate discomfort, as they act as a digestive tonic.

According to an article by researchers at the University of Bingol, Turkey, juniper not only stimulates the production of gastric acid, but also stimulates appetite. This reaction is triggered by some phytochemical substances present in the plant, the same ones that give the fruit its bitter taste. ( 4 )

The specialist in herbal medicine, Danilo Ramon, pointed out the digestive action as responsible for providing the fight against bad breath , since it eliminates what was fermenting in the stomach, and other digestive problems. Juniper consumption also promotes an improvement in the excretory system, reducing problems such as constipation .

Stops fluid retention

Also according to the expert, another benefit of this herb is to reduce fluid retention in the body, as the berries act as a natural diuretic .

This benefit was verified in a research published in 1998, in the journal Phytotherapy Research, which found that the essential oils of the plant can increase the volume of urine produced by the kidneys.

The result is greater disposal of toxins and excess substances, such as sodium, which is a causative factor for high blood pressure. ( 5 ) “The herb acts not only improving swelling, but also circulation”, attested the herbalist. This action favors blood pressure control.

Reduces stress

Consuming the berries also helps relieve stress and anxiety. That’s what Danilo guarantees: “the fruit is sedative, which helps to alleviate emotional-related problems”, in addition to improving the quality of sleep .

This is related to the essential oils found in juniper. According to research carried out at the University of Belgrade, Serbia, the fruits are rich in compounds such as myrcene and limonene, both well known for their sedative effect. ( 6 )

Helps treat respiratory infections

Finally, juniper fruits are useful in the treatment of various types of infections, especially those that affect the respiratory tract.

An article published in the International Scholarly Research Notices, in 2014, attributes this to the antibacterial potential of the fruit, which was even effective against types of bacteria resistant to conventional antibiotics. ( 7 )

Another study, published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, found that this potential extends to colonies of Mycobacterium tuberculosis , which are the cause of tuberculosis, preventing the disease from progressing. ( 8 )

Ways of use

Juniper is not very popular in Brazil, but it can be found in powder form. In this format, the extract must be used in preparing the infusion. Danilo Ramon recommends that the tea be consumed up to 3 times a day.

“The other way to use it is through a detox juice, which you can vary between fruits and vegetables, such as kale , carrots , pineapple or ginger ”, suggested the expert. “There are also capsules, which must be consumed 3 times a day”, he added. Check out how to prepare!

Juniper tea

Ingredients

  • 1 level teaspoon of juniper berry powder
  • 1 cup of water.

Preparation mode

Add the powder to hot water and let it rest for 5 minutes.

Note: To make the juice, use the same measure (1 teaspoon). The difference is that, in the case of juice, it will not be necessary to put the drink on fire.

Care and contraindications

“The juniper is slightly toxic, so it should be consumed in moderation”, warned the herbalist Danilo.

He reported that the fruit can cause an allergy-like reaction. “It is a normal and beneficial defense reaction of the organism itself, aiming to eliminate these toxins through the skin”, he clarified.

Because of this efeit the , it is essential that the Juniper consumption is accompanied by a specialist.

According to the book Adverse Effects of Herbal Drugs ( adverse effects of herbal drugs – in free translation) , tea and herb capsules should not be used by pregnant and lactating women. Juniper has compounds that can cause miscarriages, and nursing mothers can pass toxins from the plant to the baby through breast milk.

In excess, the herb can also cause some kidney problems. Therefore, never exceed the amount indicated for use or extend the treatment prescribed by a professional. ( 9 )

Prices and where to find

Even though it is not so common in Brazil, dried or powdered juniper berries can be easily found in natural food stores on the internet, with prices starting at R$10.

Another option is to consume the fruit in capsules, which are sold in supplement and herbal stores and cost an average of R$30.

Ellie Lauderdale

My name is Ellie Lauderdale, MD and I am USA based professional Nutritionist .

I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who is trained in integrative medicine. I have worked with hundreds of clients, from those suffering with chronic disease to professional and olympian athletes. My goal is to help optimize you from the inside so that you can feel, perform, and look your best on the outside.

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