It is a natural antibacterial, antiviral, diuretic and antiseptic. In ancient times, juniper berries were used to treat infectious diseases, and they were also given to women in order to facilitate childbirth. Today, the aroma of this tree is known to many thanks to gin, which is used to flavor juniper. These forest fruits are also known to cooks - they add berries to meat dishes and sauces.
Perhaps many of you have seen coniferous trees with small blue berries. This juniper is an evergreen tree from the cypress family that has been growing in the forests of the northern hemisphere for 50 million years. Scientists who have studied the life cycle of these trees say that under favorable conditions, juniper can grow up to a thousand. They say that more than fifty species of juniper grow on the planet, most of which are grown today as ornamentals. The fruits of the common juniper are an amazing remedy, but, unfortunately, few people know about it.
Interestingly, the ancient Greeks in their records mentioned the healing properties of juniper long before mankind tried the berries as a food. For ancient inhabitants, blue berries were something of a modern dope. Athletes participating in the Olympic Games ate some berries before the competition to increase their physical endurance.
Juniper was also known in Russia, but the Slavs used this plant in a slightly different way. Dishes were made from its bark, in which food kept its freshness for a long time ( milk did not sour even in warm weather). Juniper branches for the Slavs served as protection from evil spirits. And knowing absolutely nothing about the chemical composition of cypress plants, the Russians intuitively used juniper branches for disinfection: they smoked houses and clothes with smoke, rubbed the floors where the patient was sick with juice, and took juniper brooms with them to the bathhouse.
These berries are now a traditional spice in Scandinavian cuisine. In addition, the plant extract is found in many cosmetic products. For example, in lipsticks, hair conditioners and shampoos, foams and bath oils. And of course, this plant is a well-known remedy among herbalists and representatives of traditional medicine.
In herbal medicine, juniper is known as a remedy for inflammation, arthritis, bladder diseases. Its essential oils are added to inhalation mixtures to treat bronchitis. Decoctions, tinctures from berries and needles are used as a carminative, to accelerate wound healing and stimulate menstruation. For therapeutic purposes, 2-10 g of berries or 0.1 ml of oil are used. Next, we will talk in more detail about the beneficial properties of the plant.
Improves the functioning of the digestive organs
If regular indigestion bothers you, juniper will help relieve the condition. This plant belongs to medicinal with astringent effect. According to scientists at the University of Michigan, all bitter-tasting medicinal herbs (and juniper is one of them) have a common ability to improve digestion. By the way, the same opinion was expressed by the creators of Ayurveda. And now a rational explanation. Researchers have determined that bitter foods increase the production of saliva, digestive enzymes and increase the secretion of stomach acid. As a result of such a complex effect, food breaks down faster without stagnation in the gastrointestinal tract.
Juniper has also been known to eliminate intestinal parasites, benefit the pancreas, increase insulin production, and consequently reduce sugar levels in the blood.
Juniper berries can not only speed up the digestive process, but also contribute to the rapid removal of excess fluid from the body, thereby relieving edema. Juniper, which has diuretic properties, is useful for people who are struggling with excess weight, as well as for people who abuse salty foods. Sodium, as you know, retains excess fluid in the tissues (it is believed that 1 g of table salt retains 1 liter of water in the body). And juniper will speed up its removal. But increased diuresis is important for many therapeutic purposes. For example, for more efficient removal of toxins and bacteria from the genitourinary system. The diuretic effect of juniper will also be useful in violations of renal activity, and the antiseptic abilities of berries will help in the treatment of infectious diseases of the urogenital organs.
Antimicrobial and antifungal
The berries of this coniferous plant are capable of destroying gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. This was stated by scientists after some laboratory experiments. But back to bacteria. To make it clearer how important this discovery is for humanity, it is worth explaining that gram-negative bacteria cause diseases such as pneumonia, gonorrhea, and E. coli infections, while gram-positive bacteria cause Staphylococcus aureus. And now the amazing discovery of scientists. These bacteria live and develop together with humans, over time they develop resistance to certain types of antibiotics. This means that pharmaceutical preparations are sometimes powerless in the fight against bacteria. But juniper berries can be an alternative.
Laboratory experiments have shown that the fruits of this conifer kill even those dangerous bacteria against which pharmacology is powerless.
According to scientific studies, juniper contains a large amount of antioxidants. These compounds help neutralize free radicals in the body that eventually lead to diseases such as cancer, arthritis, and heart problems. In addition, antioxidants support healthy and youthful skin, prevent wrinkles, promote cell regeneration, and reduce inflammation.
Useful properties of juniper oil
Juniper oil is obtained from the berries of the plant. In industry, the product is made by steam distillation. But you can make juniper oil at home. To do this, fill a clean, sterilized jar 3/4 full with juniper berries and fill them with a base oil (for example, coconut or olive). Tightly closing the vessel, the contents are infused in a cool place away from the sun for 4-6 weeks. Important requirement: shake the contents of the jar daily. After the specified period, the home remedy is ready for use.
Essential oils of juniper are as beneficial as fresh berries. Due to its extremely rich chemical composition, the product can come to the rescue in many situations. Here are some of its benefits:
- Antiseptic. Even in ancient times, people noticed that juniper oil helps to heal wounds. This remedy was used to treat cuts, bruises and other injuries during wars, and was also used during childbirth. Today, herbalists use ointments containing the extract of this coniferous plant to disinfect and quickly heal wounds.
- Antirheumatic. This product improves blood circulation, removes toxins and uric acid from the body. Due to this, it is useful for alleviating rheumatism and other diseases of the joints.
- Antispasmodic. This type of essential oil is effective for almost all types of cramps, including muscle, intestinal and respiratory.
- Purifying. Juniper essential oil cleanses the blood of toxins, heavy metals, some dangerous compounds that enter the body from a polluted environment, and also prevents excessive production of hormones that do not have the best effect on the human body.
- Diuretic. Like fresh berries, juniper oil increases the frequency and volume of urination, which is useful for several conditions and diseases.
- Stimulating the digestive process. The essential oil of this conifer is useful for treating stomach ulcers, regulating the production of gastric juice and bile.
- Tonic. This natural remedy tones the muscles and skin, activates the work of organs and systems, maintaining the activity and healthy functionality of the whole organism.
In addition, juniper essential oil has been observed to relieve toothache, stop hair loss, treat dandruff, strengthen gums, prevent dental disease, and prevent kidney disease. stones. This fragrant coniferous product eliminates diarrhea, strengthens blood vessels and stops bruising. And it also affects the body as an "elixir of youth" - it slows down age-related changes.
Juniper oil is rich in chemical compounds beneficial to humans. But such a rich composition in some cases can cause allergies. Therefore, before use, it is advisable to apply a drop of the substance on the wrist and wait a day. In aromatherapy and cosmetic procedures, juniper oil is well combined with oils of cypress, cedar, lavender, lime, lemongrass, grapefruit, geranium, bergamot, sage.
Other Uses for Juniper
The fresh and soothing scent of juniper oil is often used in aromatherapy. This scent is believed to be helpful in relieving stress and anxiety. And he is able to purify the air.
A few drops of pine oil added to a warm bath is useful for relieving pain from arthritis, gout, rheumatism, muscle fatigue, urethritis, cystitis, hemorrhoids. Creams and lotions containing juniper extract are recommended for psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema, acne, and also for narrowing pores on oily skin. By the way, juniper compresses are useful for rheumatism, arthritis and eczema. Topical application of preparations based on juniper has proven to be excellent for the treatment of warts, growths, athlete's foot. This plant is also believed to help with snake bites.
Possible Side Effects
Even though juniper is often mentioned in folk medicine as a plant good for the kidneys, physicians still do not recommend it to patients with reduced organ function. Fruits and essential oils are strictly prohibited for pregnant women, women planning pregnancy, and nursing mothers. In some cases, this plant can cause allergies.
Overdose of juniper oil (when ingested) causes kidney irritation. One of the signs that juniper extract is in excess in the body is that urine acquires a slightly purple hue and smells of violets, and traces of blood are visible in it. In addition, excessive consumption of coniferous extract can cause tachycardia and increase blood pressure. Fresh berries are also dangerous: more than 50 fruits eaten in one sitting can cause serious poisoning.
Important! Only the common juniper (Juniperus communis) has healing properties - the one that grows in forests.
Cossack juniper (Juniperus sabina) is similar to it - a small shrub (up to one and a half meters in height), grown as an ornamental plant. But this ornamental juniper is poisonous. If it is used for therapeutic purposes, it is very carefully and exclusively externally.
For many juniper remains one of the mysterious plants on the planet. It can grow for a thousand years, its wood does not rot, and its berries are cured of many diseases. In some cultures, juniper is considered a symbol of eternal life. And if you think about the abilities and beneficial properties of this plant, one cannot but agree: such a characteristic is best suited for a juniper tree.