If you thought Juniper Berries were just for gin, think again – these tiny powerhouses have a lot more to offer.

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Last updated on May 13th, 2023 at 06:46 am

Berries are a rich source of vitamins, phytonutrients, and minerals, all of which are very important for our health and should be a part of our diet. One such berry is the Juniper berry which not only contains vitamins and minerals but also is a good source of flavonoids, essential oils, and other dietary nutrients. It can be especially alluring for those who are looking for a healthy spice that not only satisfies their keen sense of taste but also has health benefits.

In this report, we will explore juniper berries, their potential benefits, how to use them, and any possible precautions which you should know.

What is Juniper Berries?

Juniper berries are fleshy seed cones of one of the 60+ coniferous trees belonging to the genus Juniperus under the family Cupressaceae.

One of the common species of this genus is Juniperus communis which grows in large parts of the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia. In fact, as a tree, it covers more geographical territory than most woody plants.

Another species of Juniperus is, Juniperus Pinchotii or Red Berry Juniper which is thought to be a hybrid of alligator juniper, and bears red and mildly sweet juniper berries. This tree is native to the western regions of continental North America.

Usually, Juniper Berries grow around the seed cones of Juniperus trees and take around 1-3 years to mature. As the green juniper berries start to ripen they change color and become dark purple or red in appearance, depending on the species.

The plant and the berries of several juniper trees have been used to treat various health issues that include arthritis, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders, as well as serving as an antiseptic and aiding in gastrointestinal issues.

The therapeutic properties of juniper berries are due to the presence of phytonutrients such as catechin, alkaloids, aromatic oils, and tannins. Juniper berries also contain inverted sugars, resins, terpenic acids, leucoanthocyanidin, gums, lignins, and wax. The combination of such phytonutrients in just one source makes juniper berries popular among herbalists and traditional healers.

Juniper Berry Nutrients List*

  • Carbohydrates
  • Fiber
  • Protein
  • Vitamins: A, C, E, K.
  • Minerals: Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc
  • Fatty acids: Omega-3 and Omega-6
  • Flavonoids: Quercetin, Rutin, Kaempferol, Myricetin
  • Tannins
  • Terpenes: α-pinene, β-pinene, limonene, myrcene, sabinene, α-terpineol, and others
  • Resins
  • Sugars
  • Essential oils: Juniperene, Terpinen-4-ol, α-terpineol, and others

*Please note that this nutrient list was compiled from several different sources including the USDA Plants database for Juniperus L. and is by no means exhaustive.

Uses of Juniper Berries

Juniper berries have been used for thousands of years for their flavor and therapeutic benefits. It is believed that the Greeks introduced the Egyptians to the juniper berries and even the roman used it extensively for various dietary and health requirements.

Juniper Berries are most commonly used as:

Juniper Berries as a Spice

The flavor of juniper berries is characterized by a slightly bitter-sweet, piney taste, which leaves a warm after-feeling in the mouth and throat, similar to peppers. Due to their distinct taste, they are a popular spice in several cuisines, including German, British, and American Indian. They are often used while preparing game meats or organ meats to enhance taste and mask any unwanted odors.

Juniper Berries as a Gin

Juniper berries are also a key ingredient in gin, which originated in the 17th century as an alcoholic medicinal drink and became popular throughout Europe.

Juniper Berries as a Tea

Juniper berries have been used for centuries not only as an occasional snack but also to make tea. In traditional Chinese medicine and several American Indian tribes, juniper berry was consumed for body cleansing and even as a beverage.

Juniper berry tea is made by adding juniper berries and needles (leaves) to hot water that is allowed to boil for a few minutes. This enables essential oils and other phytonutrients to be easily extracted. Boiling juniper berries also impart a sweet and bitter flavor to the tea, which can be sweetened by adding honey or sugar.

What are Juniper berries good for?

Juniper berries are a good source of phytochemicals that are beneficial for our health. It is used to treat several health issues and has been a part of traditional medicine systems for centuries.

Juniper berries are used as a supplement as they have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, cytotoxic, hypoglycemic, and hypolipidemic effects.

Juniper Berries are good for:

Juniper Berries: Nature’s Solution to Oxidative Stress

Juniper berry extracts are known to have free radical scavenging properties and can be used as a chelator against heavy metal-induced oxidation. The essential oil present in juniper berries can neutralize the activity of the xanthine oxidase which is an enzyme involved in the production of free radicals and uric acid. Phytochemicals present in juniper berry essential oil work by transferring an electron which is a unique property as most anti-oxidants work primarily by transferring a hydrogen atom to neutralize free radicals.

Boost Your Memory with Juniper Berries

The essential oil extracted from juniper berries is a rich source of terpenoids and monoterpenes which give juniper berries their distinct aroma. These chemical compounds have been shown to be beneficial for our health.

Juniper berry essential oil is used in aromatherapy for mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, and nervous tension. In a research study, mice were exposed to amyloid beta (1-42), a peptide that causes protein clumping in brain cells leading to inflammation and neurodegeneration and may cause oxidative stress, memory loss, and even Alzheimer’s. After treating mice with aromatherapy using juniper volatile oil for 3 weeks, the study evaluated the activities of oxidative stressors acetylcholinesterase, superoxide dismutase, and catalase. The treatment showed a significant decrease in oxidative activity caused by amyloid beta (1-42). The study concluded that juniper berry essential oil has the potential to be an adjunct therapy for Alzheimer’s and memory deterioration.

How Juniper Berries Lower Blood Sugar Naturally

Juniper berries are good and beneficial to individuals who are diabetic or pre-diabetic and want to naturally control their blood sugar through a restricted diet, exercise, and herbal remedies.
One of the common reasons for diabetes is the damage to the pancreatic cells because of poor lifestyle, health conditions, and drug-induced cell damage. This leads to reduced insulin production in the body. In several animal studies, Juniper berries have been shown to be hypoglycemic, this is due to the insulin-like activity of juniper extract in the body. Additionally, in some studies, it appeared to heal superficial cell damage to the pancreas.

Juniper berries can be used to help with diabetes-related health issues such as high cholesterol, high LDL, VLDL levels, and high triglyceride levels.

Juniper Berries Protect the Kidney

Juniper berries contain several renal-protective compounds which makes them good for people who suffer from hypertension or liver diseases, such conditions put stress on kidneys and affect their function.

These berries not only protect kidneys from oxidative stress but also work as a diuretic to control hypertension and increase urine output which lowers the risk of the formation of kidney stones as well.

Additionally, Juniper berries contain compounds that protect kidneys from oxidative stress, making them beneficial for people with liver diseases or hypertension that may compromise kidney function. Juniper berries and leaves also act as a diuretic, reducing hypertension and increasing urine output, which in turn lowers the risk of developing kidney stones. By incorporating juniper berries into their diets, individuals with these conditions can support their renal health and potentially avoid further complications.

The essential oil of juniper berries contains Terpinol-4-ol, which is thought to be the bioactive component that increases glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and urine output, without an excessive loss of electrolytes.

It is important to know, that these bioactive compounds of the juniper berries may act as kidney irritants that are not good for long-term use. Therefore, juniper berry extract for kidney function must be used under proper guidance.

Juniper Berry Dosage

Juniper berry is used all over the world as a flavoring agent. However, for health conditions, there is no conclusive data that gives an exact dose of juniper berries for its different health benefits. Although, it can be used as a prophylactic against some diseases.

For General Health: 300-600 mg/day


  • Individuals who are on medication for chronic kidney disease (CKD) should avoid using juniper berries.
  • Individuals who use diuretics (water pills).
  • Individuals who are diabetic should not use juniper berries along with blood sugar medications.

Juniper Berries Side Effects

Juniper berries must be used in moderation as most varieties of juniper berries are better suited as spice. If eaten in large quantities it may cause various side effects, some of which are:

  • Skin irritation: Burning, redness, swelling, rash, hives, itching, or photosensitivity
  • Pregnancy and fertility issues: Unsafe during pregnancy, interferes with fertility, and increases the risk of miscarriage.
  • Kidney and liver damage: Possible kidney and liver damage, especially with prolonged or excessive use
  • Blood sugar and pressure issues: Lowers blood sugar, affects blood pressure, and may increase bleeding risk
  • Interaction with medications: Interacts with diuretics, lithium, and some antidepressants, and increases bleeding risk
  • Gastrointestinal upset: Causes nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea in some individuals
    Headache and dizziness: Possible side effects, especially when using juniper essential oil or inhaling juniper vapors.


Juniper berries are a delectable and nutritious fruit that is loaded with vitamins, phytonutrients, and minerals, offering numerous health benefits. These berries are the seed cones of various coniferous trees belonging to the Juniperus genus, found across North America, Europe, and Asia.

It takes anywhere between one to three years for the berries to ripen fully, which are packed with several phytonutrients such as catechin, tannins, aromatic oils, and flavonoids. Juniper berries are an essential ingredient in several cuisines and can enhance the flavor of game meats, organ meats, and even gin.

They have been used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years due to their anti-inflammatory, cytotoxic, hypoglycemic, and hypolipidemic effects. In some research studies, they have been shown to help reduce oxidative stress, enhance memory, ease digestion, alleviate arthritis, and act as hypoglycemic. However, it is essential to take precautions while using juniper berries as they may cause side effects like allergies, skin irritation, and gastrointestinal issues, particularly in people with pre-existing medical conditions.