A juniper berry is a seed cone with unusually plump and merged scales. There are actually several different species of juniper plants, which includes the Juniperus communis. Junipers are small shrubs that grow to about 4-6 feet tall. It is native to the Northern Hemisphere and Asia. Young juniper berries have a greenish coloring, but most varieties ripen to dark purple after two to three years.
Juniperus communis berries can grow to about twelve millimetres in diameter. Only the mature juniper berries are harvested as flavouring for food and alcoholic beverages, more specifically gin.
The main constituent of a juniper berry is the volatile oil. It also has resin, gum, water, sugar, lignin, salines, and wax.
Juniper berries have a number of health benefits, namely:
- Antimicrobial and antifungal
- Improved digestion
- Steam inhalant
- Wound treatment
- Arthritis control
Juniper berries contain impressive levels of antioxidants as confirmed in several published medical studies. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful molecules called free radicals believed to be responsible for the development of cell malignancies, blood vessel disease, and other degenerative diseases. Antioxidants are beneficial in the prevention and treatment of cancer, arthritis, macular degeneration, atherosclerosis, and other conditions. These compounds assist in cell regeneration, protect the skin against premature aging, and alleviate inflammation.
As a diuretic, Juniper helps expel excess fluid in the body and prevent bloating by stimulating the bladder to urinate frequently and by increasing urine output. Water retention can be caused by too much sodium consumption, inflammation, injuries, and other underlying conditions. Diuretics are also beneficial for removing toxins and bacteria from the body and for preventing urinary tract infections.
Scientists found that juniper berries are actually effective in fighting gram-negative bacteria, the kind that cause illnesses like pneumonia, gonorrhea, and E. coli. It can also be used as an alternative to pharmaceutical antibiotics that have been ineffective in combating gram-positive resistant bacteria.
It is used in the treatment of urinary tract infections, kidney, and bladder stones.
Juniper berries are used for treating and managing a variety of digestion problems including heartburn, flatulence, upset stomach, indigestion, bloating, and loss of appetite. Because of their bitter taste, Juniper berries stimulate the increase in the secretion of saliva, stomach acid, and digestive enzymes, body fluids that are essential for digestion. This facilitates easier food break down and absorption.
The essential oil of Juniper berries is used as steam inhalant in the treatment of bronchitis as well as fragrance in soaps and cosmetics.
Stay young, healthy, and active naturally with Juniper berries!