A juniper (genévrier/ jeneverbesstruik/ brinje) berry is the female seed cone produced by the various species of junipers. It is not a true berry but a cone with unusually fleshy and merged scales, which give it a berry-like appearance. The cones from a handful of species, especially Juniperus communis, are used as a spice, particularly in European cuisine, and also give gin its distinguishing flavour.
Juniper is also a symbol of longevity, strength, athleticism, and fertility.
Health Benefits Of Juniper Berries
American Indians have used juniper to treat diabetes; such treatments by the Navajo, for example, are under clinical study. Native Americans also used juniper berries as a female contraceptive. The 17th Century herbalist physician Nicholas Culpeper recommended the ripened berries for conditions such as asthma and sciatica, as well as to speed childbirth.
Even nowadays, due to the many juniper health benefits, these berries are used in treating a variety of ailments from rheumatism, arthritis, to cystitis and catarrh. The berries may also be crushed and applied topically to slow-healing wounds as they are a powerful antiseptic. Washing joints with a tea made of juniper berries helps to relieve pain and soreness from them. Juniper berries are steam distilled to produce an essential oil in aromatherapy. Some of its chemical components are alpha pinene, cadinene, camphene and terpineol.This essential oil has astringent properties and is helpful in treating toothaches and strengthening the gums. It can also be used to retard hair fall. Among the many juniper health benefits are its carminative properties which make it one of the best natural cures for flatulence and gas. Massaging with the essential oil of juniper is the best way to get rid of unwanted aches and pains and skin infections.
Not only are there many juniper berries health benefits, but they can also help you lose weight. This is because juniper is a diuretic (elevates the rate of urination) , depurative (depurative herbs are considered to have a purifying and detoxifying action) , and a sudorific (makes you produce sweat) . It not only helps to cleanse toxins from the blood, but also helps to increase the frequency of urination and perspiration. This can significantly aid in weight loss. Since juniper is also a stimulant, it also helps all the various organs of the body to function more efficiently.
The color of juniper berries vary from green to red, brown and black. The flavour for consumption is best when the berry is black.
Precautions: Although there are many health benefits of juniper, it may result in contraindications in case of pregnancy. It should be avoided by pregnant mothers, as well as by those with kidney problems.