juniper large Juniper

Juniper | Juniperus communis

general characteristics

general characteristics

Common names include juniper, common juniper, nickname "mothers ruin" (due to its ability to cause abortion), jenever (Dutch).

 

Juniper is a small evergreen tree or shrub, a member of the Cupressaceae or Cypress family. It prefers sandy or chalky soils in rocky areas, along the coast, moorlands and open high spaces but is often found also in open mixed woodland and scrub. It is native to and grows wild throughout the cooler northern hemisphere in North America, Europe and Asia.

It has small needle like leaves, composed of many tiny scales which are green edged with a silvery blue and often whitish 'bloom' when fully matured. The branches and leaves/needles all have a distinct aromatic smell. The flowers form on both male plants and female plants. The male flowers turn into small scaly cones whilst the female flowers turn into the dark bluish berries (actually modified cones also) that we use for medicine.

Juniper berries are the main ingredient for gin and are added for their distinct flavour to many other liqueurs. Its wood is highly resistant to rot.


Organic juniper tinctures and dried berries are available to buy in our herbal shop.

 


harvesting and preparation

harvesting and preparation

The berries are most commonly used as a medicine but the young leaves can also be eaten or brewed as a tea as they are both rich in vitamin C.

The berries are best picked wearing gloves as the leaves are quite prickly. Go for the blueish berries as these are the in the final stages of ripening. ignore the green berries (these are next years harvest). Spread on a tray lined with paper and keep somewhere warm and dry until shrivelled and completely dried. Store in an airtight jar and check for mould/spoilage every few days to begin with, removing any affected as soon as possible.

 

Juniper is on the decline in the wild in the UK so harvesting berries from the wild is out of the question. However, given the right soil conditions, it can be grown in the garden but you will need both male and female plants in order to harvest berries.

Organic juniper tinctures and dried berries are available to buy in our herbal shop.


therapeutic actions and uses

therapeutic actions and uses

Juniper berries are warming and aromatic in their nature and are viewed  in Eastern medicine as acting primarily on the kidneys and heart. In many cultures throughout the world they are used in purification and cleansing ceremonies, cleansing of the body, emotions, spirit and environments. In past times, juniper branches were burned to prevent outbreaks or spread of infectious diseases such as plague.
 
The berries are a powerful diuretic, they increase the flow of urine from the body without reducing potassium or other electrolyte levels. This makes them a potent remedy in antibiotic resistant urinary tract infections such as cystitis,, bladder infections, urethritis, gonorrhea, vaginal infections and discharges and prostate infections. They are also a powerful cleanser of the kidneys, their ability to rid the body of excess uric acid can also help prevent kidney and bladder stones.   They are used also in water retention and congestive heart failure.
 
They are often added to formulas for urinary incontinence and bladder weakness to aid in killing any infection present.
 
Helps to encourage better digestion and increases stomach acid production. Its bitter action also has a beneficial action on the gallbladder and liver, eliminates fermentation in the intestines and stomach and relieves belching and flatulence.
 
Emmenagogue (brings on delayed or absent menstruation) and abortive so avoid in pregnancy but some have used them in late pregnancy to induce labour. 'Mothers ruin', gin has been used to attempt abortions in the past.
 
The berries demonstrate a toxic action on many different tumour cells as outlined here.
 
Antibacterial, antimicrobial against a wide range of pathogens and also antioxidant .
 
Can also be useful in arthritis, rheumatism, gout and joint problems to encourage the elimination of acid wastes via the kidneys and urinary tract. It can also be used externally as a rub to ease muscle pain and neuralgia (nerve pain) as well as backache and sciatica.
 
The crushed berries can be inhaled to help lung and chest infections.. Pour boiling water over the crushed berries and breathe in the volatile oils given off.
 
A tea can be used as a wash for wounds to prevent or cure infection.
 
The essential oil of juniper (external use only) can be used to help reduce cellulite and cellulitis. and cellulitis.
 
The berries are also anti-catarrhal and can clear excess mucous from the body. They can be added to formulas for allergies and hayfever..
 
Juniper berries can be used to relieve the symptoms of diabetes and high blood sugar(hyperglycaemia) as they enhance the uptake of glucose from the blood into the cells. The berries also encourage insulin production in the pancreas.

A link to some great information on the historic and mediicinal uses of juniper from a fellow herbalist.
 
 
 

dosage and cautions

dosage and cautions

dosage and cautions

* Juniper and the kidneys. Almost all sources of information on juniper berries and the kidneys claim they have a damaging and irritating action on the kidneys, especially if the kidneys are already actively damaged or inflamed in some way. However, experienced herbalists Kerry Bone and Steven Harrod Buhner both state confidently that after many years of using juniper in such cases, they have observed no irritation or damage at all and that juniper berries in fact offer valuable healing to damaged or inflamed kidneys when taken in normal medicinal doses.

* Do not use juniper during pregnancy as it can cause abortion or miscarriage due to it containing substances known as labdane acids which restrict oxygen supply to the foetus.
* Do not take for more than 4 weeks at a time.
* Avoid juniper if taking other diuretic medication.
* Juniper may also affect fertility by inhibiting the implantation of eggs in the uterus wall.
 * Avoid if suffering from seizures.

Adult 

Tincture: 10 drops or 0.25 ml up to 2 times daily

Dried berries in tea form: 10 crushed berries infused for several minutes for up to 10 days at a time. One cup daily. or eat 5 berries twice daily for up to 10 days.

An old folk remedy survives of eating 4 whole juniper berries on the first day, then increase by 1 berry each day until a total of 15 berries are consumed daily. Then reverse back to 14 the next day, 13 the day after etc etc until  you are back to 4 berries, then stop. All together around 3 weeks of eating the berries.

 

Children

Add 12 to the child’s age. Divide the child’s age by the total.
E.g. dosage for a 4 year old...... 4 {age} divided by 16 {age + 12} = . 25  or 1/4 of the adult dosage.

 

 

 

 


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