Tell me about...
What is juniper? Why is it used
Juniper is a type of evergreen tree similar to a pine cone
tree. It grows in the temperate regions of Europe, Asia and
North America. Unlike most pine cones, juniper cones are soft
and fleshy. The medicinal parts of the tree are its "berries,"
which really arent berries, but dark, greenish-black
scales that grow from the trees cones.
The main ingredient in juniper berries is 4-terpinen, a compound
found in the trees volatile oils. Studies have shown
that 4-terpinen increases the volume of a persons urine
and may lower uric acid levels. Laboratory tests have found
other substances called juniper lignans, which may stop the
herpes simplex virus from spreading. Juniper also contains
a variety of bitter substances, which may help explain its
use in resolving upset stomach and other digestive problems.
How much juniper should I take?
The German Commission E recommends 2-10 grams of dried juniper
berries daily, which corresponds to 20-100 milligrams of the
essential oil. Some practitioners also recommend a form of
juniper tea, which is made by placing one teaspoon of juniper
berries in one cup of boiling water and allowing them to steep
for 20 minutes in a tightly covered container.
What forms of juniper are available?
Dried juniper berries are available at some health food and
specialty stores. Juniper capsules, tablets, extracts and
tinctures are also available.
What can happen if I take too much
juniper? Are there any interactions I should be aware of?
What precautions should I take?
Because prolonged use or overuse of juniper may cause kidney
damage, it should not be taken for more than six weeks continuously.
Patients with existing kidney diseases or damage should never
take juniper. Because it may cause uterine contractions, juniper
should also not be taken by pregnant or lactating women.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Minerals
More You Know About Nutrition
Bruneton J. Pharmacognosy,
Phytochemicstry, Medicinal Plants. Paris: Lavoisier Publishing,
ESCOP. Juniperi fructus. Monographs on the
Medicinal Uses of Plant Drugs. Exeter, UK: European Scientific
Cooperative on Phytotherapy, 1997.
Sanchez de Medina F, et al. Hypoglycemic activity
of juniper berries. Planta Med 1994;60(3):197-200.
Schlicher H. Juniper berry oil in diseases of
the efferent urinary tract. Med Monatsschr Pharm 1995;18(7):198-99.
Wichtl M, Bisset NG (eds.) Herbal Drugs and
Phytopharmaceuticals. Stuttgart: Medpharm Scientific Publishers,