Common juniper

cone berries.

Pharmacy name: juniper fruit – Juniper! fructus (formerly: Fractus Juniperi), juniper essential oil – Juniperi aetheroleum (formerly: Oleum Juniperi).

Botanical description. This evergreen coniferous plant is either a low prostrate shrub or a tall columnar tree with adjacent branches. Solid and prickly needles (within 1 cm in length) sit in whorls of 3, less often 4. “Flowers” (cones) are dioecious (the plant is dioecious, that is, female and male cones are found on different bushes), inconspicuous, light green colors are almost invisible. After pollination, berry-like green cones are formed. It takes 3 years from pollination to maturity. Ripe “berries” are round, blue-black, from 5-8 to 10 mm in diameter. “Blossoms” (dusty) from April to May. It grows on mountain slopes, on heaths and marshes of the riding type, in the undergrowth of light forests and pastures.

Collection and preparation. Collecting cones is a rather laborious task due to sharp needles. To make it easier, a cloth is spread on the soil and ripe cones are shaken on it; however, then it is necessary to carefully clean them from dry needles and fragments of twigs that have fallen with them. “Berries” are dried in a ventilated place. Harvest time is October. Active ingredient: essential oil.

Healing action and application.“Berries” of juniper have a diuretic effect. Due to their irritating effect on kidney tissue, they, like juniper oil, are prescribed only to patients with healthy kidneys and for a short time. Due to their diuretic properties, juniper berries are also beneficial in the treatment of rheumatic diseases. The course of treatment recommended by Kneipp is still used today: they begin by chewing and swallowing 1 “berry” of juniper three times every day, each day the dose is increased by 1 “berry”, until every day you have to take 20 pieces three times. After that, they begin to reduce 1 fruit three times every day, bringing up to 1 “berry” 3 times every day. This ends the course. Then they take a break for a month. Before resuming the course, consult your doctor. Juniper contains many diuretic teas. We present one of them here.

  • Tea collection: “Berries” of juniper 10.0 Lovage root 10.0 Harrow root 10.0 Licorice root 10.0

Pour two heaping teaspoons of the mixture into 1/4 L of boiling water, leave for 10 minutes, after cooling, strain and drink 1-2 cups every day. Juniper oil is an ingredient in many antirheumatic rubs: ointments and liquids. It is also used for inhalation in bronchitis. The German National Health Service considers diseases of the digestive tract to be an indication for the treatment of juniper.

Application in folk medicine. In folk medicine, this plant plays a very special role. Juniper “berries” are used as an appetite stimulant; juniper tea is given for coughs, as a diuretic, against debilitating diarrhea, flatulence, heartburn, diseases of the biliary tract and liver, against a wide variety of rheumatic diseases. Much of this goes back to the recommendations of Sebastian Kneipp.

  • Tea from juniper “berries”: 1 teaspoon with the top of crushed “berries” pour 1/4 liter of boiling water and insist for 10 minutes.

Juniper alcohol is also prepared from the “berries”, which is used for external and internal use. The recipes for its preparation are mostly drawn from old traditional sources, they are very diverse and ambiguous; this mainly concerns the strength of alcohol. Based on experience, the most appropriate use of 70% alcohol.

  • Juniper alcohol: 100 g of juniper berries, well crushed, pour 0.5 liters of alcohol (70%), leave for 14 days, shaking occasionally (quite often). Then strain and pour into a clean bowl. Use for rubbing or for the above diseases, take orally 20 drops per piece of sugar 3 times every day.

But do not forget that juniper “berries” irritate the kidneys, and this is typical of all remedies prepared from them. Juniper vodkas are among the favorite homemade tinctures, we only add that they improve digestion.

Use as a condiment. Juniper “berries” are a popular homemade spice, dishes cooked with it are better digested. It is very good to add them to sauerkraut, it enriches its taste; in addition, they go to all dark sauces, to many meat and fish dishes. In this case, the “berries” are used whole or crushed. Just avoid overdose of this spice; optimal dose: 3 whole or 2 crushed “berries” per serving.

Side effects. According to new publications (Schilcher, in the journal “Zeitschrift fiir Phytotherapie” 4/94), the still prevailing opinion about the harmfulness of juniper oil and “berries” for the kidneys should be revised. There is no evidence for this. However, overdose should still be avoided and juniper products should not be used during pregnancy.

Note. In folk medicine, juniper wood is also used as a diuretic and blood purifier, against rheumatism and gout.

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