Juniper berry - Juniperus communis (in the Cupressaceae or Pine family)
Parts used: Berries.
Taste/smell: Sweet, pungent, aromatic.
Tendencies: Drying, stimulating.
Dosage: Infusion: 1 teaspoon of crushed berries per cup of water; or 1:4 dry liquid extract: 10-30 drops 1-4 times per day in a little water.
Mental picture and specific indications: Juniper helps bring clarity in confusing situations and is specific for atonic conditions of the gastrointestinal, respiratory and urinary tract.
Use: (a) Stimulating diuretic acting on the glomerulus to increase filtration rate, (b) Carminative, (c) Antiseptic, (d) Stomachic, (e) Hypoglycemic, (f) Renal vasodilator.
It is used in chronic bladder and kidney infections with atony, for edema from renal suppression, renal congestion, amenorrhea or dysmenorrhea from atonic, sluggish conditions, atonic liver conditions, digestive atony, arthritis, gout and sciatica. The ability to relieve the pain of inflammation in arthritis, gout and other diseases may be due to its prostaglandin-inhibiting action. Juniper is used as a flavoring in gin.
Contraindications: It is contraindicated in acute or chronic inflammatory conditions of the kidneys due to kidney irritation by hydrocarbon volatile oil components like pinenes and cadinene. Chronic over-dosage may cause kidney damage. Since animal studies show the essential oil prevents implantation of fetus on days 0-4 of pregnancy in mice, it is contraindicated in pregnancy. Additionally, juniper is a uterine stimulant due to reflex activity from urinary tract irritation. It should be used in small dosages and combined with a mucilaginous demulcent like marshmallow to counter the possible urinary tract irritation. Diuretic action is through stimulation of the glomerulus with little excretion of sodium. Therefore it is not beneficial as a diuretic in hypertension.
Copyright 1999 by Sharol Tilgner, N.D. (ISBN 1-881517-02-0) - all rights reserved.