In many countries like North America, Europe, and Asia grow this shrub, Juniperus communis, or the juniper tree. The seeds of this plant are known as juniper berries. They are used as spices or flavoring agents. There are several uses of juniper berries. It is used in medicinal and culinary purposes, and research says that it has several other benefits.
A test-tube study revealed that there were over 70 compounds in juniper berry essential oil. These compounds have monoterpenes alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, limonene, myrcene, and sabine. These substances make it a steady antioxidant source.
How Juniper Berries Benefit our Health
1. It Has Nutritious Plant Compounds
There is very little information available on juniper berries, but they are known to have many vitamins and many plant compounds that can benefit you. They are a reliable source of Vitamin C that is necessary for immunity, good health, and collagen synthesis.
Having the right amount of Vitamin C improves blood functioning in the body. It works as an antioxidant that protects the cells from damage from free radicals or unstable molecules. The plant compounds include flavonoid antioxidants, coumarins(1), and volatile oils that have to protect properties.
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2. Have Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Effects
Consuming foods that are rich in antioxidants benefits our health. It protects the cells from damage that could lead to illness. Juniper tree berries have essential oils and flavonoids that work as antioxidants(2) and reduce inflammation.
This oil brings down the damage done to the cells. This oil increases enzymes like glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase, and catalase. This plays a significant role in protecting the cells from free radicals that cause radical damage.
3. Controls Blood Sugar Levels
Juniper berries have anti-diabetic properties. Juniper berries have been used in ancient times for medicinal purposes to treat diabetes.
A study proved that the rats supplemented with juniper berry extracts had reduced blood sugar levels and an increased level in good cholesterol or HDL.
The dried juniper berries extract helps to reduce blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in rats with increased blood sugar levels. It also shows antibiotic effects as it has a high concentration of antioxidants.
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4. Improves Cardiac Health
Juniper berries may increase the HDL levels in the body, which are also known as good cholesterol and reduces the high triglycerides level as well as bad cholesterol. This factor promotes better cardiac health.
The study was conducted on rats suffering from diabetes using juniper berry extract. It reduced the total cholesterol and triglyceride levels by 57 % and 37 % as controlled with a control group. Eating this is a great and natural way to reduce the risk of heart diseases.
5. Antifungal and Antibacterial properties
Numerous studies show that these berries have antifungal and antibacterial properties.
In one study, the oil demonstrated its antibacterial effects against 16 kinds of bacteria, yeasts, fungi, and dermatophytes, which is similar to ringworm caused by fungus on the skin. The fungi killing exercise were with dermatophytes and Candida species that caused fungal and yeast infections in the mouth.
Extracts from juniper berries show its antibacterial properties, several bacteria mainly Campylobacter jejuni that is responsible for food poisoning and Staphylococcus aureus that is bacteria that causes skin and lung infections.
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How to Consume Juniper Berries for Health Benefit?
- You can use fresh or dried juniper berries crushed to Juniper berries recipes and add flavor to marinades, stuffings, and casseroles.
- It can be added to pork, rabbit, beef, and duck.
- You can also add to fruit cakes to sweeten it.
How Much to Use?
- If consumed in small amounts, juniper berries are deemed safe for consumption.
Precautions to Be Undertaken
- For medicinal use, do a patch test on your skin.
- Do not use it on large and deep wounds.
- Do not use high doses or exceed your prescribed dosage.
- Do not continue for the long term as it may cause kidney problems, seizures, and other side effects.
- Check with your doctor to know if it is safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- It can lower blood sugar levels dangerously.
- Long term use can irritate the stomach lining.
- As it affects blood sugar levels, it is best avoided before surgery.
Juniper berries and its extracts can be seen as it is used in marinades, dressings, and some cocktails to add flavor. The berry extracts have shown immense health benefits and can treat cardiac health issues, blood pressure, and diabetes. Use the fresh ones and in small amounts to reap maximum benefits from it.
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1. Are juniper berries poisonous to humans?
The oil can cause kidney problems and diarrhea. Some of them are safe when eaten in controlled amounts. It is said to be poisonous as it has low amounts of thujone.
2. Can you make tea from these berries?
You can use these berries or the twigs to make a juniper tree. Drinking 2 cups of tea is considered safe, but ensure you strain it before consumption.