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Juniper is an evergreen tree that belongs to the pine family. It is dioecious, meaning there are male plants and there are female plants. The berries (which are actually scales from the cones, giving them a berry-like appearance) grow on the female plants.
Juniper berries have a long history of being used to treat many ailments. Records show that the Greeks have used them as a medicine long before using them as food. They would also use the berries in Olympic events to increase physical stamina in athletes.
Constituents include volatile oil, flavonoid glycosides, limonene, protein, fiber, calcium, and iron.
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Information on Juniper Berries - Benefits
Juniper berries act as a natural diuretic and can relieve the body of excess water.
These berries have antiseptic properties which are excreted in the urine. This keeps the urinary tract clean because they disinfect it as they pass through. This helps treat and prevent urinary tract infections, bladder infections, urethritis, and cystitis.
They also have anti-inflammatory properties. This can help treat arthritis by relieving inflammation, pain, and stiffness.
Juniper berries can help stop excessive flatulence (gas) and belching. They stimulate appetite and also promote the secretion of stomach acid.
They may help those with diabetes (diet controlled) by releasing insulin from the pancreas.
Juniper berries were historically used to stimulate menstruation and induce childbirth.
When used externally, they can help treat many skin conditions including wounds, eczema, and psoriasis.
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More Information on Juniper Berries
Prolonged use may irritate the kidneys and cause blood in the urine.
Prolonged use may deplete the body of potassium (because of the diuretic effects).
When using externally, do not apply to open wounds.
Women should avoid juniper berries during pregnancy because they can stimulate uterine contractions. When given to rats, they have been shown to cause miscarriages.
Safety for young children has not been established.
To make a cup of tea, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tablespoon of juniper berries, cover, steep for 20 minutes, and strain. You can drink up to 2 cups a day.
You can also use the tea for external use. Soak a clean cloth in the tea, wring it out, and apply to the affected area.
Recipe (Anasazi Beans)
The following is a simple and healthy recipe using juniper berries:
• Rinse 2 cups of dried anasazi beans, cover them with cold water, and set aside overnight.
• Lightly bruise 8 juniper berries and 10 coriander seeds in a mortar.
• Warm 1 tablespoon of light olive oil in a soup pot (wide-bottomed). Add 1 small onion (chopped), the berries and seeds, 1 teaspoon of ground red chile, and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano. Cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes (stir occasionally). Drain the beans. Add the beans and 2 1/2 quarts of fresh water to the pot. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for about 40 minutes. Add salt to desired taste. Continue cooking (about another 30 minutes) until the beans are tender.
You can also buy juniper berry extract or capsules. Use as directed.
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Juniper berry: http://www.vitamins-supplements.org/herbal-supplements/juniper-berry.php
Juniper Berries: http://www.oralchelation.com/ingred/juniperberry.htm
Anasazi Beans: http://www.elliemay.com/beansandgrains/AnasaziBeans.html
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Image courtesy of http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ms._Evening_Grosbeak.jpg
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