Morgan Botanicals

  (Loveland, Colorado)
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Juniper Berries: The Forgotten Food and Medicine

 

Jessica Morgan, M.H. Juniper Berries, scientifically called Juniperus communis, come from the Juniper shrub and are widely found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. The juniper is an evergreen tree native to Europe, Asia, and the northern parts of North America.

The herbal uses of the juniper berry dates back to early times. The first recorded mention of use is in an Egyptian papyrus from 1500 B.C.E. that tells of its use in treating tapeworms. Throughout history, Juniperus communis has been used by numerous different cultures to treat conditions such as warts, gout, skin growths, upset stomach,  and various urinary tract and kidney diseases.  It's been noted that Greek and Arabian physicians used juniper to treat many ailments as well as the Romans, who used it for all types of stomach disorders. Native Americans of the northeast used the berries as a food and medicinal herb used to relieve infection and ease the pain of arthritis. The Hopi boiled the berries and parts of the tree and consumed it to treat stomach disorders. Historically, juniper berries have been used to treat bladder and kidney infections and were used in tea as a way to disinfect surgeon's tools. The antiseptic properties of juniper berry helps aid in the removal of waste and acidic toxins from the body, and stimulate a fighting action against bacterial and yeast infections. Considered by some to be a useful diuretic, juniper has been used to remove excess water retention, which can help with water weight loss, as well as improving digestion and easing gas and stomach cramping without causing loss of electrolytes. Additionally, the berries are believed by some herbalists to be beneficial for reducing congestion and relieving asthma and colds.

The purple, blue, violet, or blackish-brown fruits are harvested in early autumn for culinary and medicinal use. To prevent loss of essential oil, juniper berries should not be ground, crushed, or rubbed until just before use. When added to food, juniper berries can help prevent gas and heartburn. Find dried Juniper Berries here.

**Continued overdose can cause renal irritation and blood in the urine, so only use in moderation. Since juniper berries can stimulate uterine contractions, avoid use during pregnancy. They should not be used by anyone who has inflammation of the kidneys.

As always, please email any questions to herbalist@morganbotanicals.com.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Jessica Morgan, M. H., Morgan Botanicals.

Disclaimer - The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information in this article for self-diagnosis or to replace any prescriptive medication. You should consult with a health care professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem, suffer from allergies, are pregnant or nursing.

Jessica Morgan, M.H.

 

 
 
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