- Indications with no proof of efficacy:
Rheumatic pains - topical use
Urinary tract infections
- Risk of Drug Interaction: Low
- Adverse effects: Not Frequent
Part of the plant used: berry
Juniper is an evergreen shrub that can grow to be three meters. Its purple berries take two to three years to ripen and are harvested in the fall. They are used to flavour various alcohols including gin.
The berries are usually ingested in the form of an infusion but can also be grounded and taken with water. They are also available in liquid form (liquid extract, essential oil, infusion). For topical use, ground berries can be added to bath water.
Direction of use
To date, no studies to have been conducted to prove the benefits of juniper berries in humans.
To date, there is little information on dosage but typical doses vary between 1 to 2 grams of berries, 3 times a day. Berry infusions are made with 2 to 3 grams per 150 ml of water, infused for ten or so minutes.
- Side effects
Ingesting large amounts of juniper berries may irritate the renal tract and topical use may irritate the skin. The prolonged use of high doses may lead to convulsions and kidney damage.
Juniper berries are contraindicated for those suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases or kidney diseases. Furthermore, people with diabetes, hypertension or hypotension and epilepsy should exercise caution with taking juniper berries.
Juniper berries may increase the effects of hypoglycemic drugs (drugs aimed at decreasing blood glucose levels) and modify the effects of diuretics (drugs that increase urine flow). If you are already taking medication, check with your pharmacist to see whether they are compatible with juniper berries before ingesting.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Juniper berries may increase uterine contractions and should not be taken during pregnancy. Because there is little information available on the safety of juniper berries, this product should be avoided by women who are breast-feeding.
In 2004, Canada adopted new regulations that control the manufacturing, packaging, labeling and importing of natural health products. The new regulations also include an adverse reaction reporting system. Products that conform to the regulation's criteria are identified with a natural product number (NPN) and can be legally sold in Canada. This number indicates that the product meets specific criteria for safety and purity, not that it is effective for any indication.
Medicinal plant contents vary naturally from plant to plant - just as fruits from the same package may vary in taste and texture. There is no standard to measure the active content of each plant. Thus, efficacy of natural products should be expected to vary from brand to brand as well as from bottle to bottle of the same brand.
For more information about the Natural Health Products Regulations, or to check if a product has been assessed, visit the Health Canada website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/index-eng.php.
- Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2010
- Passeport Santé, Genévrier, www.passeportsante.net
- Barnes J. et Al. Herbal Medicines, 2e édition, Pharmaceutical Press, 2002
- Blumethal M et al. The Complete German Commission E monographs, 1998
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.