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6 Lesser-Known Health Benefits Of Juniper Berries

Juniper berries come from the evergreen shrub Juniperus communis L. The shrub produces seed cones that are called juniper berries, also known as common juniper, juniperi fructus, and "boughs of the supernatural."

Juniper berries are mostly blue in colour, have a woody or spicy aroma and pine-like taste. The berries are commonly used as a flavouring agent in drinks and as a spice in cooking and preserving foods. Juniper berries are used for both culinary and medicinal purposes.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), juniper berries have been used as a stimulant for kidneys and bladder to flush out the toxins from the body. The juniper shrub is rich in aromatic oils, catechins, resins, flavonoids, tannins, lignins, terpenic acids, alkaloids and leucoanthocyanidin [1].

Though the nutritional information of juniper berries is limited, research studies have shown that juniper berries possess some health benefits, which we've listed down in this article.

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1. May promote heart health

Juniper berries may help improve heart health by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol. Animal studies have shown that juniper berry extract lowered total cholesterol and triglyceride levels in diabetic rats compared to a control group [2] [3]. However, more research studies are needed to show the effects of juniper berries on heart health in humans.

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2. May manage diabetes

Juniper berries possess antidiabetic properties which are due to the high concentration of antioxidants in it [4]. A study published in the International Journal of Pharma and Bio Sciences showed juniper berry extract that was given to diabetic rats experienced a significant reduction in blood sugar levels and increased good cholesterol [5].

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3. May reduce inflammation

Juniper berries are rich in flavonoids and essential oils, which have been shown to exhibit powerful anti-inflammatory properties. A study showed that juniper berry essential oil significantly lowered inflammation on human skin cells [6].

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4. Acts as an antioxidant

Antioxidants are compounds that prevent the damage to cells caused by free radicals. Free radicals play a role in causing cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases. The presence of antioxidants in juniper berry essential oil has been shown to protect cells from free radical damage [7].

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5. May fight bacterial and fungal infections

Studies have shown that juniper berries possess strong antibacterial and antifungal properties, thanks to the compounds in juniper essential oil such as limonene, sabinene, myrcene, alpha-pinene and beta-pinene. Studies have shown that the antibacterial and antifungal effects of juniper berry essential oil against 16 species of bacteria, yeasts, seven species of yeast-like fungi and four species of dermatophyte [8].

Another study also found that juniper berries can help fight against Campylobacter jejuni and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria [9] [10].

However, further research studies are needed on humans in this area.

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6. May manage cancer

A review study published in the Pharmacognosy Journal showed that juniper berry extract was tested against two cancer lines: colorectal carcinoma cells and cervical cancer cells. The results showed that the berry extract had the ability to stop the growth of cancer [11]. However, more research studies are required to evaluate the effect of juniper berries on cancer.

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Possible Side Effects Of Juniper Berries

There are limited studies regarding the safety consumption of juniper berries. These berries are used only in small amounts to flavour foods. Juniper berries are available in dried whole and crushed form; however, fresh berries are also available.

Juniper berry supplements are available in the market and human studies are lacking regarding the dosage of these supplements. Pregnant women and children should completely avoid consuming juniper berries.

It is recommended to consult your doctor before consuming juniper berry supplements.

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Ways To Use Juniper Berries

• You can steep juniper berries in boiling water for 10 minutes and drink it as a tea.

• Use juniper berries in meat marinades and sauces.

• Use crushed and dried berries in stews, soups, stuffing and pickled foods.

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Juniper Berry Recipes

Juniper berry tea

Ingredients:

• 1-2 tsp of dried berries

• 1 cup of water

Method:

• In a pot, add water and berries.

• Cover and simmer for 15 to 30 minutes.

• Strain the water and serve hot.

To Conclude...

There are limited research studies on juniper berries and more studies are required to show the health effects of these berries on humans. The safety of juniper berry supplements is unknown, therefore it is best to use fresh or dried juniper berries in small amounts in your dishes.

Common FAQs

Q. What is juniper berry good for?

A. Research studies have shown that juniper berries may help promote heart health, reduce inflammation, fight bacterial and fungal infections and may manage diabetes.

Q. Can you make tea from juniper berries?

A. Yes, you can make tea from juniper berries.

Q. Can you eat dried juniper berries?

A. Yes, juniper berries can be eaten in both fresh or dried form.