Juniper is a powerful diuretic – a herb that increases the flow of urine, helping to cleanse the system of excess fluids and stimulating the kidneys. This causes the body to flush out uric acid and excess crystals that can cause many problems including gout, arthritis and kidney stones.
Juniper Berries contain bitter compounds that stimulate bile flow and the production of digestive enzymes. This allows the body to breakdown foods more easily and enhances nutrient absorption. Due to their astringent properties they are particularly effective at relieving heartburn and other digestive upsets.
Juniper can also be useful in the treatment of upset stomachs, colitis, gastrointestinal infections, loss of appetite and intestinal worms.
Many of Juniper’s health benefits stem from the potent antioxidant activity displayed by these berries. They are rich in antioxidant phytochemicals including; alpha-pinene, cadinene, limonene, myrcene, borneol, caryophyllene and germacrene, to name but a few of the staggering 87 antioxidant compounds found in these humble berries.
Juniper berries also promote the activity of catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase. These are vital antioxidants found in the body that protect from free radical damage. Free radicals are rogue atoms or atomic groups that have lost at least one electron, forcing them to steal electrons from neighbouring molecules in the hope of stabilising themselves. Unsurprisingly, this can cause havoc in the body, leading to a whole host of health problems.
Antioxidants also help to maintain youthful and healthy skin by fighting wrinkles, aiding in cell regeneration and reducing inflammation.
Juniper Berries are sometimes referred to as “Nature’s Insulin”, and they have indeed been shown to contain natural insulin that can work in the body just like its pharmaceutical counterpart. Animal research shows that the berries contain certain compounds that increase insulin production, thus lowering blood sugar levels. This could make Juniper Berries a powerful ally when addressing diet controlled (type 2) diabetes.