Juniper Berries

by Paul Bergner

Medical Herbalism 07-31-94 6(2): 13

Juniper berries are not berries but fleshy cone scales which pass for berries. They were an official medicine in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia from 1820 until 1936. They are rich in volatile oils which are highest in the green berries. Dr. Christopher says to use the second year berries, with a dark blue or purple color. As the berries turn blue and purple, the oils are partly changed into resins. The U.S. Dispensatory (1947) states that when the berries turn black, the oils have been completely changed to resins. The oils give the berries antiviral, antibiotic, and antifungal properties, as well as carminative and irritant diuretic properties. According to Wade Boyle, ND, “In the old days doctors would chew them while treating epidemic infections to set up an antiseptic barrier.” (Lecture notes, Tempe Arizona, September 1992) It’s main medical use is as a urinary tract antiseptic and diuretic. It increases filtration by the kidney. Juniper should not be pigeonholed as a “kidney herb,” however. Felter recognized it as a carminative and stomachic, and noted that it improves nutrition. Dr. Boyle states that its constituent juniperine has bitter properties, and promotes digestion. R.F. Weiss called it an “ anti-dyscratic,” for “depraved states of humor,” and prescribed it for chronic arthritis, gout, neuralgia, and rheumatism. He would give dandelion in the Spring and juniper in the Fall for degenerative joint disease.
Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner 

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