Other Names: Juniper Berry, Ginepro, Enebro
The Juniper is a small shrub, 4 to 6 feet high, widely distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere.
The berries are used for the production of the volatile oil which is a prime ingredient in Geneva or Hollands Gin, upon which its flavor and diuretic properties depend.
Juniper as an Herb for Medicinal Uses
The medicinal parts are the essential oil from the berry cones; the ripe, dried berry cones; the ripe fresh berry cones; the fresh or dried pseudo fruit or berry; and the ripe berry. The berries have a tangy smell. The taste is tangy-sweet, then resinous and bitter.
Spirit of Juniper has properties resembling oil of turpentine; as such it is used as a stimulating diuretic in cardiac ailments.
Juniper is high in natural insulin, and has the ability to heal the pancreas where there has been no permanent damage.
Juniper has been used to clear uric acid from the body and has been useful for all urinary infections as well as for water retention problems and well as gout. The chief use of Juniper is as an adjuvant to diuretics in edema depending on heart, liver or kidney disease. An infusion of 1 ounce to 1 pint of boiling water may be taken in the course of 24 hours.
Chewing the berries treats inflamed and infected gums.
Juniper is used externally as a compress to treat acne, athlete's foot, and dandruff.
Native Americans used a decoction of the boiled leaves as a poultice for joints affected by arthritis and rheumatism.
The essential oil is used in aromatherapy to treat sleep problems and to relieve stress. Used in a massage oil, it is useful for the female system and for the skin. In traditional Indian medicine, the oil is applied externally to relieve rheumatic pain to counteract alopecia; as a styptic and to wounds. Juniper Berry has a fresh, rich-balsamic, woody-sweet and pine needle-like odor reminiscent of evergreen oils.
Culinary Uses of Juniper
Juniper berries contribute as much to the character of food through their 'freshening' ability, as they do by way of their taste. As well as flavoring a dish, juniper cuts the gaminess of game, reduces the fatty effect of duck and pork and perks up a bread stuffing. Pork chops, roast leg of lamb, veal, rabbit, venison and wild boar are all enlivened with a hint of juniper.
Juniper berries can effectively be added to wine marinades for meats, and is used with coriander in smoking meat. It seasons pates and sauces. Goulash and Sauerkraut often feature a juniper taste, as do some home-pickled meats like salt beef, salt pork and ham.
Generally juniper can well be used in any dish requiring alcohol. Fruit dishes, such as apple tart and pickled peaches, also harmonize with this flavor.
In Sweden a beer is made with juniper berries that is regarded as a healthy drink. Other juniper flavored beverages include the Finnish rye and juniper beer known as sahti, which is flavored with both juniper berries and branches (Jackson 1995). A French beer like drink called 'genevrette' is made from equal amounts of Juniper berries and barley.
Folklore & Magickal Uses
Juniper was used to protect against thieves, evil forces, accidents, animal attacks, ghosts, and sickness. Juniper burned as incense was said to help strengthen psychic powers.
Should not be used by pregnant women or those suffering from kidney disease.
Large doses may cause irritation to the urinary tract.
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