Juniper Berry
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Juniper Berry?

In Dutch, juniper is called "geniver," from which came the name "gin." But juniper is not only good for making martinis. Its berries (actually not berries at all, but a portion of the cone) were used by the Zuni Indians to assist in childbirth, by British herbalists to treat congestive heart failure and stimulate menstruation, and by American nineteenth-century herbalists to treat congestive heart failure, gonorrhea, and urinary tract infections.

Contemporary herbalists primarily use juniper as a diuretic ("water pill") component of herbal formulas designed to treat bladder infections . A typical combination might include goldenrod , dandelion , uva ursi , parsley , cleavers, and buchu. The volatile oils of juniper reportedly increase the rate of kidney filtration, 1 thereby increasing urine flow and perhaps helping to "wash out" offending bacteria. However, there is no direct scientific evidence that juniper is effective for bladder infections. Only a double-blind placebo-controlled study can prove a treatment effective, and none have been reported with juniper

Recently, gin-soaked raisins have been touted as an arthritis treatment. This is probably just a fad, but some weak evidence suggests that...

Safety Issues

Although juniper is regarded as safe and is widely used in foods, we don't recommend taking it during pregnancy. (We also recommend not drinking gin.) Remember, juniper was used historically to stimulate menstruation and childbirth. It has also been shown to cause miscarriages in rats. 2 Individuals taking the medication lithium should use herbal diuretics such as juniper only under the supervision of a physician, as being dehydrated when taking this medication can be dangerous. 3 Some texts warn that juniper oil may be a kidney irritant, but there is no real evidence that this is the case. 4 Nonetheless, people with serious kidney disease probably shouldn't take juniper. Safety for young children, nursing women, or those with severe liver disease has also not...