Feb 19, 2014
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Juniperus communis. N.O. Coniferae.

Habitat ► This freely-branched, evergreen shrub may be seen growing on dry heaths and mountain slopes to a height of from two to five feet.

Features ► The leaves open in whorls of three, are glaucous and concave above, keeled underneath. The berries are blue-black, globular, and a quarter to half-inch in diameter. An acrid taste, and a characteristic odour resembling that of turpentine, are noticeable.

Part used ► Every part of the shrub is medicinal, but the dried, ripe fruit or berries only are used in modern practice.

Action ► Diuretic, stimulant and carminative.

An infusion of 1 ounce of the berries to 1 pint of water may be taken freely in wineglassful doses.

As a reliable tonic diuretic, the medicine is much appreciated in kidney and bladder disorders, whether acute or chronic. Although frequently successful when taken alone, it is more usually prescribed with other agents such as Parsley Piert, Uva Ursi, and Buchu. The berries are sometimes included with suitable alteratives in formula for rheumatic complaints.

It is on account of the Juniper Berries used in its manufacture that gin is so frequently recommended when a diuretic is needed. However, one authority at least. Dr. Coffin, considers that “the better plan … is to eschew the gin, and make a tea of the berries”! The same writer tells us that if Juniper boughs are burnt to ashes and the ashes put into water, “a medicine will be obtained that has cured the dropsy in an advanced stage.”

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Herbal Manual

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