Juniper BerryJuniperus communis
In Dutch, juniper is called "geniver," from which came the name "gin." But juniper is not only good for making martinis. Its berries (actually not berries at all, but a portion of the cone) were used by the Zuni Indians to assist in childbirth, by British herbalists to treat congestive heart failure and stimulate menstruation, and by American nineteenth-century herbalists to treat congestive heart failure, gonorrhea, and urinary tract infections.
What Is Juniper Berry Used for Today?
Contemporary herbalists primarily use juniper as a diuretic ("water pill") component of herbal formulas designed to treat bladder infections
Recently, gin-soaked raisins have been touted as an
You can make juniper tea by adding 1 cup of boiling water to 1 tablespoon of juniper berries, covering, and allowing the berries to steep for 20 minutes. The usual dosage is 1 cup twice a day. However, juniper is said to work better as a treatment for bladder infections when combined with other herbs. Combination products should be taken according to label instructions.
Warning: Bladder infections can go on to become kidney infections. For this reason, seek medical supervision if your symptoms don't resolve in a few days, or if you develop intense low back pain, fever, chills, or other signs of serious infection.
Although juniper is regarded as safe and is widely used in foods, we don't recommend taking it during pregnancy. (We also recommend not drinking gin.) Remember, juniper was used historically to stimulate menstruation and childbirth. It has also been shown to cause miscarriages in rats. 4
Individuals taking the medication lithium should use herbal diuretics such as juniper only under the supervision of a physician, as being dehydrated when taking this medication can be dangerous.
Some texts warn that juniper oil may be a kidney irritant, but there is no real evidence that this is the case.
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking lithium
3. Markkanen T, Makinen ML, Nikoskelainen J, et al. Antiherpetic agent from juniper tree ( Juniperus communis ), its purification, identification, and testing in primary human amnion cell cultures. Drugs Exp Clin Res . 1981;7:691–697.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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