juniper: Uses, herbal medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Vermouth: Uses, Special features, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Juniper is native to northern temperate regions such as Europe, North America, and northern Asia. In Germany and Austria, the shrub is partially under natural protection. The berries are mainly imported from Italy, Croatia and Albania.

Juniper in herbal medicine

In herbal medicine, the ripe (!), fresh or dried berry cones, commonly called juniper berries (Juniperi fructus), are used.

The plant’s dried wood (Juniper lignum) is also used more rarely. However, this is only used in folk medicine as a diuretic and for “blood purification”.


Juniper: Special Characteristics

A juniper is an evergreen shrub or small tree up to five meters tall with stiff, needle-like, pointed leaves. The flowers of both sexes are inconspicuous and yellowish. The berry-shaped fruit cones (pseudofruit) develop on the female plants. While they are still green in the first year after fertilization, the colour changes to blue-black in the second or third year. Only then have the fruits reached maturity.

Juniper berries and their properties

Ripe juniper berries are spherical, blue-black berry cones with a diameter of up to ten millimetres. At the lower end, there is often still a stem remnant; at the apex, you can see a small closed gap with three bumps.

Inside the cones, embedded in the pulp, are three or more elongated, tough seeds, some of which are fused with the berries. The smell of juniper berries is quite peculiar and spicy. The taste of juniper berries is sweet, spicy, and aromatic.

Juniper – application

Juniper berries treat digestive problems (dyspeptic symptoms) such as flatulence, a feeling of fullness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and loss of appetite. Alone or combined with other herbal remedies for indigestion, the berries generally support the digestive function.

More use cases for juniper berries

Traditionally, juniper is also used to support kidney function, for example, in renal pelvis and urinary bladder inflammation. The berries are also used for flushing therapies for bacterial and inflammatory urinary tract diseases.

According to experience, the essential oil of the drug, applied externally, stimulates blood circulation and is therefore able to relieve muscle tension and rheumatic complaints.


Juniper in folk medicine

In folk medicine, juniper is a stomachic and flatulence-relieving agent for stomach cramps, indigestion and flatulence. It is also used as a diuretic here.

In addition to therapeutic use, juniper berries are also used to a greater extent as a spice and in spirits production (e.g. to make gin).

Homeopathic use of juniper berries

In homoeopathic medicine, the juniper’s fresh, ripe seed cones are used in diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, the kidneys and the urinary tract. The dried berry cones are also used in anthroposophic therapy.


Components of juniper

Juniper berries contain up to two per cent essential oil, primarily α-/β-pinene, sabinene, limonene, terpinene-4-ol and borneol. The berries also contain flavonoids, tannins, sugar, resin, and waxy substances.

Juniper: Indication

Juniper berries can be used in the following cases:

  • indigestion
  • indigestion
  • dyspeptic complaints
  • gas
  • bloating
  • nausea
  • Vomit
  • Diarrhea
  • loss of appetite
  • urinary tract infection
  • muscle tension
  • rheumatic complaints

Juniper – dosage

Juniper berries can be taken as tea; for example, they are processed in various bladder and kidney teas in combination with other plants. In addition, extracts of the berries are contained in multiple preparations in the form of juices and syrups and are for external use in ointments. Juniper oil is available in bath or capsule form.

Juniper: what dose?

The average daily dose of two to a maximum of ten grams of the dried berries or 20 to 100 milligrams of the essential oil should not be exceeded.


Juniper – Preparation as a tea

To prepare tea from juniper berries, about two grams of the fresh berries are crushed (a teaspoon is about three grams) and poured over with boiling water. After ten minutes, everything is put through a tea strainer.


Juniper should not be taken if you have inflammatory diseases of the kidneys or if you are pregnant.


Storage of juniper berries

Juniper berries should be stored in glass or metal containers in a dry place, protected from light.

Juniper – synonyms

German plant name: Wacholder

German synonyms of the plant: Common juniper, common juniper, common juniper, heather juniper, Machandel, Kranewitt

Latin plant name: Common juniper L.

Latin synonyms of the plant: Juniper common ssp. Standard, Juniperus typical L.

German drug name: juniper berries

German synonyms of the drug: Machandelbeeren, Kranewittebeeren, Kaddigbeeren, Reckholderbeeren

Latin drug name: Juniper fruit

Latin synonyms of the drug: Juniper pseudofruit, Juniper berry, Juniper gall

English name: Juniper berry, Juniper fruit (Droge); Juniper, Common Juniper, Ground Juniper (Pflanze)

Plant family Latin: Cupressaceae

Plant family German: cypress family


Juniper – effect

The components of juniper berries are believed to affect smooth muscle directly. In the gastrointestinal tract, this is responsible, among other things, for the movement of the intestinal contents and, if it contracts permanently, can cause indigestion. The berries have an antispasmodic effect on smooth muscles. The diuretic effect is attributed to terpinen-4-ol through irritation and increased blood flow to the kidney tissue.

The effects mentioned have so far been observed primarily in animal experiments.

Juniper: side effects and interactions

Suppose juniper berries are used for a more extended period or in excess. In that case, it can lead to irritation of the kidneys, the appearance of red blood cells in the urine ( hematuria ), disorders in the area of ​​the digestive tract and symptoms of excitation in the central nervous system. The characteristic violet odour in the urine can often be recognized as an overdose. 

The side effects listed are based on information from 1842 to 1844 and have not been checked. Since the relatively high content of α- and β-pinene could cause cell irritation, Commission E only lists dyspeptic symptoms as application areas.

Interactions with other agents are currently not known.


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