The medicinal properties of the juniper plant fruit were known by the great Greek physician, pharmacologist, botanist, and author Pedanius Dioscorides, who lived in the 1st century A.D. However, they have more applications than simply giving their aroma to some alcoholic beverages.
Juniper Plant Scientific Facts
- Other names: Common juniper.
- French: Genevrier.
- Spanish: Enebro, junipero.
- Environment: Common in rocky soils and mountainous forests all over Europe, and it is also found in America as a naturalized species.
- Description: Evergreen shrub of the Cupressaceae family, growing from 1 to 3 m high, with short, sharp-pointed leaves. Its fruit is small balls, blue or black, with a resinous, sweet flavor.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The fruit.
Healing Properties and Uses
The entire plant, and especially its leaves, contain essential oil rich in terpenic substances. The berries contain sugar, resin, organic acids, and juniperin (a bitter glycoside). These BERRIES have the following properties:
- Diuretic. The essential oil of juniper increases glomerular strain on kidneys, thus increasing urine production. However, when continuously taken, high doses of this plant induce the straining capabilities of the kidneys and can even produce nephritis. The use of juniper is recommended for edema caused by coronary insufficiency and as a purifying substance to eliminate excess uric acid.
- Expectorant and bronchial antiseptic. Since a significant part of its essence is eliminated via the lung airways, its berries have been used as a complementary treatment of any bronchial and lung diseases, even in the case of tuberculosis.
- Appetizer, stomach invigorator, and carminative.
- Emmenagogue. They produce an increased blood flow towards the genitalia; thus, these berries are recommended to treat painful or scant menstruation.
- Revulsive. When externally applied with a massage, juniper ESSENCE in alcoholic solution eases rheumatic and arthrosis aches.
How to use Juniper
- Ripe berries. They can be taken whole as pills, six after every meal, three times a day.
- Infusion with 30 grams of berries per liter of water. Drink up to three cups daily.
- Essence. The recommended dose is two drops three times a day.
- Massage with juniper essence dissolved into alcohol. From 20 to 30 drops of essence per 100 ml of alcohol.
WARNING! The juniper plant is advised against during pregnancy and for nephritis. When taken in high doses, it can cause albuminuria (emission of albumin, a type of protein, into the urine).
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 577. Print. [juniper plant]