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   Oct 30

Juniper berry: The Natural Diuretic – Evergreen Healing

Kind to Your Kidneys

Many modern medicines aimed at healing the urinary tract include one or more compounds extracted from juniper berries. The compounds not only stimulate the kidneys to produce fluid, but also help kill bacteria, making them ideal for battling bladder and urinary tract infections. In fact, juniper berry is so kind to the kidneys that researchers at the University of California found it helped prevent organ rejection in test animals with kidney transplants.

Evergreen Healing

Other ways that juniper might help heal include:

Stomachache. The Commission E Monographs—scientific summaries used in Germany to guide physicians and other health practitioners in the use of natural remedies—approved the use of juniper berries for treating indigestion.

Heart problems. In an animal study reported in Phytotherapy Research, researchers found that preparations made from juniper berries had an action similar to amiloride HCl (Moduretic), a diuretic used to control high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.

Inflammation and infection. Juniper berries have been used to treat “various inflammatory and infectious diseases such as bronchitis, colds, cough, fungal infections, hemorrhoids, gynecological diseases, and wounds in Turkish folk medicine,” wrote a team of Turkish researchers in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. (They also note the juniper berry is used worldwide for many of those conditions, as well as for rheumatoid arthritis, and to regulate menstruation and relieve menstrual pain.) When they tested an extract of juniper berries in an animal experiment, they found it had “remarkable” anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving activity equal to that of indomethacin (Indocin), a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) prescribed for arthritis and other pain problems.

Juniper berry pairs well with these spices:


Bay leaf

Black pepper

Caraway seed









and complements recipes featuring:




Pickled vegetables




Diabetes. Several animal studies have found that juniper berry is effective in lowering high blood sugar.

Breast cancer. In a laboratory study in Oncology Reports, juniper berry extracts “significantly decreased” the growth of human breast cancer cells. The extract “might be useful in cancer treatment,” concluded the researchers.

There are more than 70 species of juniper that grow as either a tree or bush.

Liver damage. In an animal study, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found a juniper berry extract helped prevent the type of liver damage seen in alcoholism.

Cold sores. In test tube studies, compounds in juniper inhibited the virus that causes cold sores.

Getting to Know Juniper Berry

There are more than 70 species of juniper that grow as either a tree or bush. Juniper “berries” take three years to ripen, starting out green, turning to blue, and then to deep purple. Dried, they darken to blue-black.

Harvesting usually occurs in the fall, and it can hurt—sharp, stiff foliage enfolds the berries. If you plan to pick juniper berries, wear gloves. And make absolutely certain you’re picking from an ediblejuniper bush. Some varieties are poisonous.

Juniper thrives in the northern hemisphere, so it’s no surprise that this spice complements the meaty cuisines of northern Europe, especially those of Scandinavia and Germany. (Where there is game, there is juniper berry—it’s used to mellow the gaminess of venison, goose, duck, and wild boar.) The Scandinavians used it to roast reindeer, and also put it in gravlax, a specialty smoked salmon cured with salt, sugar, and dill. The Germans put juniper berries in pot roasts, in fermented vegetable dishes such as sauerkraut, and as a key flavoring in a popular white Schnapps liqueur. It’s the main spice in the famed German-French dish Alsatian pork and sauerkraut. The French put juniper berries in pates and charcuterie.

Alsatian Pork and Sauerkraut

This is a classic dish in the German-inspired cuisine of the Alsace-Lorraine region of France. Juniper, caraway, and bay are common seasonings in German sauerkraut.

2 pounds sauerkraut, preferably German

1 cup white wine

1 four-pound bone-in pork roast or pork tenderloin

2 tablespoons canola or olive oil

1 cup diced onions

2 large apples, peeled, cored, and chopped

8 juniper berries

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 bay leaf

1. Drain the sauerkraut through a sieve into a large mixing bowl, pressing down to extract all the juice. Add the white wine to the sauerkraut juice and set aside.

2. Brown the pork in the oil in a large sauté pan until it is lightly browned on all sides. Set aside. Add the onions and apples to the oil and sauté until soft but not brown, about 10 minutes. Add the drained sauerkraut, stirring to mix well, and continue to cook for five minutes. Add the juniper berries and caraway seeds and mix.

3. Put the sauerkraut mixture in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place the roast on top. Cover with the sauerkraut liquid. Bury the bay leaf in the sauerkraut. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for one and a half hours or until the roast is cooked to the desired temperature.

Makes 6 servings.

Juniper’s fragrance—pungent, with a scent of pine—is popular in perfumed toiletries and room deodorizers. At one time, the Swiss put juniper berries in heating fuel for schools, to sanitize classrooms.

How to Buy Juniper Berry

Dried juniper berries are available in most supermarkets. They should feel moist and pliable to the touch, and easily crush between your fingers.

You may find a cloudy bloom on the skin of some berries. It’s mold, and it’s commonplace, because the berries retain moisture. Avoid berries with excessive mold, however.

Juniper berries keep well in an airtight container away from heat or light. Hard berries have gone bad and should be thrown out.

In the Kitchen with Juniper Berry

Juniper berries are easy to work with in the kitchen. They should always be crushed rather than used whole. Because they’re somewhat soft, you can do this with your fingers, or tap them slightly with a mortar and pestle. Crushing releases their oils, so don’t crush or grind the berries until you’re ready to use them.

Juniper berries are traditionally used in game dishes, but they can enhance any meat dish, including beef and chicken roasts. Some cooks even add them to seafood stews.

Here are ways to add more juniper berries to your diet:

• Use juniper berries in spice rubs for pheasant, duck, or squab along with cloves, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, nutmeg, and garlic.

• Make a marinade for game steaks and kabobs by combining apple cider and olive oil with crushed juniper berries, black peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaf.

• Juniper goes well with purple fruits—plums, blackberries, and blueberries.

• Add it to roasting goose and duck to reduce the taste of congealed fat.

• Add ground juniper berries to bread stuffings.

• Add a few berries to the casserole when making coq au vin, the classic French chicken in wine.

Read more: http://health.tipsdiscover.com/juniper-berry-the-natural-diuretic-evergreen-healing/#ixzz2jBrrDX50

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