(Botanical name: Juniperus
It is an
evergreen tree, grows mainly in the plains regions of Europe as well as
in other parts of the world. The medicinal portions of the plant are
referred to as berries, but they are actually dark blue-black scales
from the cones of the tree. Unlike other pine cones, the juniper cones
are fleshy and soft.
The volatile oils in juniper cause an increase in urine volume and in
this way can theoretically lessen edema;20 however, there is no clinical
research that yet supports its use for people with edema.
Aside from being used as the flavoring agent in gin, juniper trees have
contributed to the making of everything from soap to perfume. 1 Many
conditions have been treated in traditional herbal medicine with juniper
berries, including gout, warts and skin growths, cancer, upset stomach,
and various urinary tract and kidney diseases. Juniper contains bitter
substances, at least partly accounting for its traditional use in
digestive upset and related problems.
The Swedes traditionally used juniper
berry extracts topically to treat wounds and inflamed joints. Juniper
tar has been used occasionally in combination with other plant tars to
treat psoriasis of the scalp. Test tube studies show that juniper
berries can inhibit prostaglandin synthesis, which suggests that the
traditional use for easing arthritis pain may have some scientific
Warning- Excessive applications (greater than the amounts listed
above) may cause kidney irritation. People with either acute or chronic
inflammation of the kidneys or kidney failure should not use juniper.
Juniper should not be taken for greater than four weeks without first
consulting a healthcare professional. One report suggests that people
with diabetes should use juniper cautiously as it may raise glucose
levels. Pregnant women should avoid juniper until further information is
available, as it may cause uterine contractions.