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Juniper Berries

Veterinarian Reviewed on June 15, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized

Juniper Berries


Juniper Berries are the female seed cones of evergreen trees that belong to the pine family, which grow in the plain regions of Europe and other areas in the world. Juniper Berries are berry-like in appearance and are colored green. The Juniper Berries turn to a purple-black color when they ripens at about 18 months with a blue waxy coating. The seed cones are spherical in shape, measures between four and twelve millimeters in diameter, and usually have three mingled scales with a single seed in each scale. The seed cones of Juniper Berries are fleshy and soft unlike other pine cones that are hard.

History and Origin

Juniper Berries are native to the northern part of the world and Europe. The botanical name of this plant is Juniperus communis and is also known as Juniperi fructus, Baccae juniper, genievre, and ginepro.

Juniper Berries were found in ancient Egyptian tombs, like in the tomb of Tutankhamun. Many believed that these berries might have migrated into Egypt from Greece. The Greek records have shown that Juniper Berries were used in medicine before it was discovered to be used in food. The berries were widely used in Olympic events because the Greeks believe that the berries can increase physical strength among athletes.

Ancient Uses

Juniper Berries were used as a flavoring for gin, a type of liquor created in the 17th century in the Netherlands. The Western American Native Tribes have used these berries to suppress appetite in times of famine and hunger. On the other hand, Juniper Berries was initially intended for medications because of its being a diuretic and good remedy for arthritis and rheumatism.

Aside from the medicinal and culinary benefits derived from Juniper Berries, the Native Americans also have used the seeds of the berries for decoration and jewelry. The Swedes used the extracts from Juniper Berries as a topical medicine for the treatment of inflamed joints and wounds.

Modern Uses

Juniper Berries are externally used for the treatment of athlete’s food, acne, and dandruff. It is also used for the treatment of cystitis and urethritis due to its antiseptic qualities. The antibiotic capabilities of Juniper Berries are good for treating numerous wounds or sores such as psoriasis, eczema, and other skin problems.

Juniper Berries are very rich in nutrients that provide numerous health benefits to most people. They are rich in Vitamin B and Vitamin C, and small amounts of calcium, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, lipid, and ash.

Side Effects

Since Juniper Berries can stimulate the uterus, it should not be taken by pregnant women, as it can cause an unwanted abortion. People with severe kidney problems should not consume it because it might aggravate the ailment. The oil extracted from these berries should never be administered to open wounds as it may lead to irritation and swelling.

Side-effects of Juniper Berries may include urinary problems such as blood in the urine, and purplish colored urine; diarrhea and intestinal pains. Juniper Berries may also cause an allergic reaction in some people. Common symptoms of the allergy are rashes, sneezing, wheezing, and coughing. People who are susceptible to getting allergies are those who handle this plant.

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Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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