Encyclopedia of Health Benefits of Berries

 Juniper Berries
  17. Juniper Berries:


These berries are false berries that are actually modified cones. They are green when unripe and on ripening turn to purple-black. They are used to season pork, cabbage, and sauerkraut. They are also used to prepare gin.

The juniper tree's growing region varies widely. It grows in Europe, North America, North Africa and Asia. The berries are perhaps best known as the flavoring agent for producing gin. The tree's berries have also long been used medicinally. The ancient Greeks, Romans and Arabs used the fruit for treating myriad health problems. The primary chemical constituents of juniper berries include essential oils, flavonoids, tannins and vitamin C. Juniper berries are used when green and unripe for medicinal purposes, according to The Epicentre Encyclopedia of Spices.

When it comes to superfoods, berries are right on top of the list because they are crammed with beneficial antioxidants. One such berry that can help you a great deal is the juniper berry and over the years, scientific research has shown what a marvel it is.

Botanically speaking, the juniper berry isn’t an actual fruit but the juniper plant’s seed cone. It’s considered as a berry because of its scales. The juniper is an evergreen tree and
there are apparently 6 species of this tree whose berries are edible and used for a lot of beneficial purposes.

Juniper berries are widely used in European cooking, particularly meat based preparations as it lends a unique flavor. Gin lovers also might be surprised to learn that juniper berries are the main ingredient in gin. But the juniper berry is most well known for its reputation as a herbal remedy for an amazingly long list of diseases and ailments.

Juniper Berries Nutrients

Juniper berry is rich in nutrients, and provide many health benefits to the people. They possess many important nutrients, which are as follows:

Vitamins and minerals – juniper berries are rich in vitamin C and Vitamin B. they contain small amounts of calcium.

Volatile Oils – it also contains a substantial amount of volatile oil.

The percentage of various nutrients is as follows:

  • Protein- 4%

  • Lipid – 16%

  • Carbohydrate – 46%

  • Fiber – 34%

  • Ash – dry weight.

 

Health benefits of Juniper Berries

Improves Digestion

Juniper is a traditional treatment for digestive disorders. The berries contain bitter compounds that stimulate bile flow and aid digestion. They relieve upset stomach and other minor digestive disturbances. The berries function as a carminative, alleviating gas and intestinal cramping. Consuming juniper berries may impair absorption of iron, and those suffering from iron deficiency should use them with caution and consult a physician first.

Lowers Blood Sugar

Juniper berries lower blood glycemic levels, according to study published in 1994 in "Planta Medica." The study's researchers, led by Fermin Sánchez de Medina from the Universidad de Granada in Spain, found that juniper berries decrease glycemic levels by increasing the secretion of glucose-induced insulin. Researchers gave the berries to rats with artificially induced hyperglycemia, and they produced significant reduction in glucose levels.

Promotes Kidney Health

Juniper BerriesJuniper berries have been used for a long time to support kidney health. They have antimicrobial properties that help treat urinary tract, bladder and kidney infections. They also aid in removing wastes and acidic byproducts from the body. Compounds in the berries have diuretic effects, removing excess water from the body that may result in weight loss.

Consuming juniper berries may cause kidney problems for those suffereing from kidney disease, according to The Epicentre Encyclopedia of Spices.

Anti-Microbial Properties The juniper berry contains compounds that have antimicrobial properties, according to a study published in 2003 in the journal "Phytotherapy Research." The study's researchers, led by Natalia Filipowicz from the Medical University of Gdansk in Poland, found that juniper berry oil fights against bacteria and fungi. The researchers may have identified the responsible compounds, but said further research was needed to find conclusive evidence.

The juniper is indeed a useful tree as most of its parts are used for some sort of medicinal preparation or the other. So, the berries, leaves, bark and even oil derived from the berries and wood are used in various ways.

Essentially a bitter tasting berry, the juniper berry contains numerous volatile oils or essential oils, vitamin C, flavonoids, fiber and whole slew of active constituents that make it the power packed healer that it is. Note that juniper berries can be consumed in the form of teas and the crushed berries can be applied topically as well for a variety of ailments.

Here’s a look at some of the uses of the juniper berry and how it can help us lead healthier lives:

Juniper is considered to be a herb with the most powerful effects on kidneys. It is also used to treat various urinary tract infections and it can remove uric acid from the body.

Juniper makes the kidneys work faster and the body produces more urine, making it an excellent diuretic as well.


People facing water retention problems can experience a lot of relief with the juniper berry and its oil because of its diuretic properties.

Oil from the juniper berry has an antiseptic effect and it comes as a great relief to people suffering from cystitis and urethritis.

Suffering from digestive problems? The juniper berry might just be your answer as it can help reduce flatulence and colic and aid digestion. It also eases problems such as belching, bloating and heartburn. As a digestive aid, it’s excellent as it increases the appetite, relieves gas and boosts the production of gastric acid.

The juniper berry also has anti-inflammatory properties and it’s of great help to those suffering from arthritis, gout and other diseases such as rheumatism. These joint related ailments occur because of the fluid retention around these joints and the juniper berry with its diuretic action relieves this pressure considerably.

Skin ailments such as acne, dandruff and athlete’s foot can also be treated with topical application of the juniper berry.

Juniper helps in reviving the muscle tone and considerably reducing the effects of ageing for most people.

Menstrual cramps are often some of the most troublesome aspects of a woman’s life, but these can also be reduced significantly with the help of the juniper berry. Some herbalists even use the juniper to improve the uterus tone and to help those who have slow or late starting periods.

Concentrated oils of the juniper are used topically for lung congestion and coughs while it is also important in helping those suffering from respiratory infections. The volatile oils help in easing up bronchial passages and removing mucus.

It has a high concentration of insulin and helps in healing the pancreas.

Essential oils derived from juniper berries can help in relieving toothache and making gums stronger. It can also be used to control hair fall.

Finally, the juniper berry is used by many to lose weight and since it even cleanses the toxins from the body, it is a great overall purifier as well.


 

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Dated 12 March 2013