Botanical name: Juniperus communis
© Steven Foster
Parts used and where grown
Juniper, an evergreen tree, grows mainly in the plains regions of Europe as well as in
other parts of the world. The medicinal portions of the plant are referred to as berries, but
they are actually dark blue-black scales from the cones of the tree. Unlike other pine cones,
the juniper cones are fleshy and soft.
Juniper has been used in
connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual
health concern for complete information):
Historical or traditional use (may
or may not be supported by scientific studies)
Aside from being used as the flavoring agent in gin, juniper trees have contributed to the
making of everything from soap to perfume.1 Many conditions have been treated in
traditional herbal medicine with juniper berries, including gout,
warts and skin growths, cancer, upset stomach, and various urinary tract and kidney diseases.
The volatile oils, particularly terpinen-4-ol, may cause an increase in urine
volume.2 According to some sources, juniper increases urine volume without a loss
of electrolytes such as potassium.3 Juniper contains bitter substances, at least
partly accounting for its traditional use in digestive upset and related problems.
How much is usually taken?
The German Commission E monograph suggests 1/2–2 teaspoons of the dried fruit
daily.4 To make a tea, 1 cup (250 ml) of boiling water is added to 1 teaspoon (5
grams) of juniper berries and allowed to steep for twenty minutes in a tightly covered
container. Drink one cup (250 ml) each morning and night. Juniper is often combined with other
diuretic and anti-microbial herbs. As a capsule or tablet, 1–2 grams can be taken three
times per day, or 1/4–1/2 teaspoon (1–2 ml) of tincture can be taken three times
Are there any side effects or interactions?
Excessive applications (greater than the amounts listed above) may cause kidney irritation.
People with either acute or chronic inflammation of the kidneys or kidney failure should not
use juniper. Juniper should not be taken for greater than four weeks without first consulting
a healthcare professional. One report suggests that people with diabetes should use juniper
cautiously as it may raise glucose levels.5
Application of the volatile oil directly to skin can cause a rash. Pregnant women should avoid juniper until further
information is available, as it may cause uterine contractions.
Are there any drug
Certain medicines may interact with juniper. Refer to drug interactions for a list of those medicines.
1. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC
Press, 1985, 256.
2. Tyler VE. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of
Phytomedicinals. Binghamton, NY: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994, 76–7.
3. Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckman J. Herbal Medicine: Expanded
Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 2000,
4. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al (eds). The Complete
Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative
Medicine Communications, 1998, 155–6.
5. ESCOP. Juniperi fructus. Monographs on the Medicinal Uses of Plant
Drugs. Exeter, UK: European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherpay, 1997.