Juniper: Herbal Remedies


©2007 Publications International The berries of the juniper plant are used in a variety of herbal remedies.

In addition to medicinal applications, the distinctive flavor of the juniper berry has been used for centuries. Did you know that it's the main flavor ingredient in gin?

Uses of Juniper

With their warming, stimulating, and disinfecting actions, juniper berries have many medicinal uses. Juniper berries have an antiseptic effect and are often used in cases of chronic and repeated urinary tract infection. They are used in between flare-ups in those with frequent infections but not for acute cases of bladder infection.

Juniper stimulates urinary passages, causing the kidneys to move fluids faster. This is helpful if your kidneys are working sluggishly (such as with renal insufficiency) and if urine is not flowing freely. But such stimulation would be disastrous if you had a raging kidney infection. Because of the myriad dangers, juniper must be used judiciously, starting with small, cautious dosages, and only under the supervision of an experienced practitioner. It also may be used for prolapse and weakness of the bladder or urethra.

Because juniper is indicated for chronic conditions associated with debility and lack of tone in the tissues, it is most often used for treating older people or those with chronic diseases. Both the aging process and prolonged disease are associated with loss of tone in tissues and organs. Since juniper is stimulating, it is useful in these situations.

Juniper berries also are recommended for joint pain, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and nerve, muscle, and tendon disorders; the plant is used internally and topically for such complaints. Take small doses of juniper mixed with other herbs, such as ginger, for a month at a time; then abstain for a week to 10 days before restarting.

 

Juniper's volatile oils have been concentrated and used topically for coughs and lung congestion. Its tars and resins have been isolated and used topically to treat psoriasis and other stubborn skin conditions. This treatment may irritate the skin, so you should dilute it and gradually increase the concentration. In both topical therapies, juniper has a warming, stimulating, and slightly irritating action.

Juniper also is considered to be a uterine stimulant, occasionally used by herbalists to improve uterine tone and late or slow-starting menstrual periods. Juniper is valuable for respiratory infections and congestion because the volatile oil in its berries opens bronchial passages and helps to expel mucus. Juniper's volatile oils also relieve gas in the digestive system and increase stomach acid when insufficient. Hydrochloric acid in the stomach is required to digest food, and insufficient acid leads to incomplete digestion, gassiness, and bloating.

Keep reading to learn about preparations and warnings for juniper.

To learn more about treating common medical conditions at home, try the following links:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies.   Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.

Juniper Preparations and Warnings

Like all herbs, there are some precautions you should take before using juniper medicinally.

Juniper Preparations and Dosage

Juniper berries may be tinctured or stored whole. Because juniper's volatile oils may irritate and stimulate, keep the dosage low. When making juniper tea, short, hot infusions of just five to eight minutes are best to preserve the volatile oils. Steep about 20 berries per cup of hot water. Steep in a covered container to preserve the oils.

Herbal Tea: Limit consumption to 1 or 2 cups in a day, and do not use longer than two months.

Tincture: Take 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon at a time, no more than four times a day. Limit use to four to six weeks. Start with a low dosage and work upward, if needed.

Juniper Precautions and Warnings

Avoid juniper during pregnancy because juniper is suspected of causing uterine contractions, which result in abortion. Large doses of juniper -- such as five to six cups of strong tea -- may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and increased urine flow. Such dosages taken day after day may poison the kidneys and cause convulsions. Juniper should not be used by anyone with acute kidney inflammation because it is too irritating and stimulating to the urinary passages. People with diabetes should use juniper cautiously, as it may raise glucose levels. Juniper is best suited for urinary atony, such as a weak or prolapsed bladder, and minor infections that do not involve the kidneys.

Use juniper only for a month or so; then abstain for a week or more before using the herb again.

Side Effects of Juniper

Irritation of the urinary passages may occur if juniper is not used properly. Juniper is very strong, and its use requires knowledge and caution. Because juniper increases stomach acid, it may upset some people's stomachs. Use juniper for indigestion; avoid its use if you have heartburn or excess stomach acid. Some hay fever sufferers develop allergic reactions to juniper. Don't use juniper if you develop any reactions.

To learn more about treating common medical conditions at home, try the following links:

Jennifer Brett, N.D. is director of the Acupuncture Institute for the University of Bridgeport, where she also serves on the faculty for the College of Naturopathic Medicine. A recognized leader in her field with an extensive background in treating a wide variety of disorders utilizing nutritional and botanical remedies, Dr. Brett has appeared on WABC TV (NYC) and on Good Morning America to discuss utilizing herbs for health.This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies.   Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.