Juniper Berry: Top Health Benefits [2018 List]

Everyone has probably eaten their fair share of blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.

But have you ever heard of cedar berries?

Let’s find out a little more about them and take a look at their variety of alternative health benefits!

Juniper Trees

Also known as the one-seed Juniper, Cherrystone Juniper, Redberry Juniper, and many other aliases, cedar berries grow in trees of the same name which can be found in the Southwestern United States, mostly in New Mexico. These trees often thrive in places with poor soil, sustaining life where other trees cannot be flourished.

Cedar berry trees have two types, the male and the female, wherein both can bear flowers but only the latter can produce berries. These grape-like sprouts, and sometimes also the leaves and twigs, have been found to be beneficial for the Native Americans’ medical needs (due to their antiseptic and antibiotic properties) in the past.

Cedar berries are usually used as a flavoring agent for food and tea. They can also be eaten fresh or dried, and they are sometimes used in the manufacture of health supplement capsules.

The nutrients that can be found in this tiny fruit are vitamin C, glycosides, resin, sugar, tannins, flavonoids, cadinene, podophyllotoxin, alcohols, and volatile oils.

Health Benefits of Juniper Berry Tea

  • Prevents diabetes
  • Improves pancreatic and digestive systems
  • Strengthens immune system
  • Fights stiff muscles
  • Lowers the risk of tumor development
  • Relieves menstrual cramps
  • Relieves joint pains caused by rheumatism and arthritis
  • Cures the common cough and other respiratory problems

Cedar berries are known to regulate blood sugar levels and filtration of the kidney to lower the chance of contracting diabetes. For those already suffering from the disease, it is recommended to put one to three drops of cedar berry extract in juice to be drunk two to three times a day.

Aside from their many health benefits, cedar berries have other applications. Their leaves may be burned for purifying air in a room.

Cedar berries may be difficult to find. It is also something different and exotic. Nonetheless, it is very helpful in curing certain ailments. Who knew a tiny berry was capable of doing so much?

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 millimeters in diameter. Only the mature juniper berries are harvested as flavoring 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:

  • Antioxidant
  • Diuretic
  • Antimicrobial and antifungal
  • Improved digestion
  • Carminative
  • Steam inhalant
  • Wound treatment
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • 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!

Juniperus communis

Juniperus communisAlso called juniper, Juniperus communis is a conifer species that belongs to the Cupressaceae family. Other names include: common juniper, juniper bark, juniper bush, juniper berries, ground juniper, hapusha, hackmatack, melmot berry, kuei, mountain berry, ginepro gin plant, and Geneva gin berry, among other names.

The juniper tree may be identified by its needle-like, stiff blue-green leaves, small yellow flowers, short red-brown trunks, and black or blue berries or fruits (produced by female trees). Juniper trees can grow from 6-25 feet in height. The leaves that grow in whorls of three emit an apple or lemon-like smell when crushed.

In the Bible, juniper is mentioned as the tree that hid Elijah when he was running away from Queen Jezebel. Juniper has figured significantly in folklore. The berries, in Europe, were burned for the last three days of April as protection against sorcery and as a cleansing ritual. Another belief was that if juniper was planted next to the main door, it would not allow a witch to come inside the building if she could not correctly count all the needles.

Cultivation

The evergreen juniper grows wild throughout parts of Asia, North America, and Europe. It also grows in parts of north Asia and southwestern Asia (including the Himalayas) where the tree grows from the northern mountainous regions and moorlands to the southern coastal sites.

Juniper grows well in siliceous soil with limestone. It also grows on hillsides (open, dry, rocky, and wooded), maritime escarpments, sand terraces, and on exposed plateaus and slopes. The plant can also grow on dune heaths or dunes in coastal areas, and isolated mountains, and may spread into pastures and fields.

Juniper, which bears flowers from late spring to early summer, can be grown from seed sown during the fall. It is easier, however, to grow Juniperus communis from cuttings planted during the fall or spring. The plants should be periodically trimmed to prevent them from looking messy. The berries are gathered during the autumn, when they are already ripe.

Juniper can also be used in a medicinal capacity. Its most useful parts include the leaves and ripe fruits when dried carefully. Juniper oil, which is derived from the fruit itself, can also be used for therapeutic purposes. Beside juniper berries and essential oils there are also extract powders to be used as an herbal supplement.

Health Benefits of Juniperus communis

Juniper’s health benefits can be attributed to its properties, which include: sudorific, antiseptic, depurative, anti-rheumatic, antispasmodic, stomachic, stimulating, carminative, astringent, rubefacient, diuretic, tonic, and vulnerary.

Some of the plant’s health benefits include:

  • Improved digestion
  • Antifungal and antimicrobial properties
  • Diuretic properties
  • Antioxidant

Improved digestion

Juniper can ease the discomfort brought on by indigestion and heartburn. The herb is bitter or astringent. When juniper is ingested, it causes stomach acid, digestive enzymes, and saliva secretions to rise. The body fluid increase necessary for digestion helps in breaking down food. In turn, digestion is improved.

Antifungal and antimicrobial properties

According to Shiraz University of Medical Sciences researchers, juniper berries combat both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Gram-positive bacteria cause Staphylococcus aureus (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA). Gram-negative bacteria can cause E. coli, gonorrhea, and pneumonia.


As pharmaceuticals are not effective in treating MRSA, juniper may be an alternative and effective way to fight infection.

Diuretic properties

Eating the berries of Juniperus communis may relieve water retention or bloating symptoms. The University of Michigan says juniper, as a diuretic, increases the output of urine. Diuretics can combat the body’s excessive water retention, which is caused often by injury or inflammation or by taking in too much sodium.

The University adds that, due to it being a diuretic, juniper can help prevent urinary tract infection by flushing out the urinary system’s bacteria and toxins.

Antioxidant

According to a medical journal study, the berries have high antioxidant concentrations. Such compounds help to eliminate free radicals that may lead to the development of cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and cancer. Antioxidants also maintain youthful, healthy skin by fighting facial lines and wrinkles; thus, reducing inflammation and aiding in cell regeneration.

Ayurvedic Energetics

In the ancient Indian Ayurvedic medical system, Juniperus communis pacifies and balances the kapha and vata dosha. It also enhances the pitta dosha.

The bitter and astringent herb helps balance kapha imbalances like urinary infections, rheumatism, bronchitis, and congestion. Juniper can also help pacify vata imbalances like skin problems, dysmenorrhea, and stress. To enhance pitta energy, juniper supports in the treatment of indigestion, flatulence, high blood pressure, and abdominal pain, among other ailments.

Juniper Berry Side Effects, Risks and Contraindications

Despite its many benefits, there are also precautions and downsides to consuming cedar berries. Pregnant and breastfeeding women and people with urinary tract or kidney problems should avoid drinking cedar berry tea (It might cause contractions, especially among those belonging to the former category.).

Also, consuming large of amounts of cedar berries (uncommon) has been proven to be toxic.

As with any other unusual and unfamiliar health supplement, it is important to consult your doctor about its use and possible side effects before delving into it.


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