You may know juniper as the most widely distributed evergreen on the planet. But it’s a plant with secrets. Juniper plant benefits include both juniper herbal uses and also culinary. If you’d like more information about juniper shrubs as herb plants, read on.
Juniper as Herb Plants
Juniper plant benefits include their beauty in the garden. Juniper is a popular evergreen shrub that generally stays under 10 feet (3 m.) tall. It is native to Europe, Asia, and North America. The most common variety in this country is Juniperus communis. Juniper shrubs have needle-like leaves and grow seed cones. The outer scales of the cone are a deep blue merging on black. Gardeners refer to these as juniper berries. These berries are used in herbal medicine and give juniper the status of herb plants. The time it takes for juniper scales to mature varies depending on the sex of the tree. Scales from male juniper mature in 18 months while female juniper scales take 2 to 3 years to ripen. Many juniper herbal uses start with scales. Some herbalists argue that immature juniper scales are better medicinally, while others insist that mature scales are more potent.
How to Use Juniper for Herbal Use
How is juniper used herbally? Juniper extracts can be used medicinally or as culinary flavoring. As a medicine, it can be taken internally, inhaled, or applied topically. In Alaska, the Tanainas burn juniper needles on top of a hot wood stove to create an incense. This provides a wonderful smell, and also can aid with a cold. Many other juniper herbal uses start with extracts from the juniper berries/scales. The extracts contain terpinen-4-ol, a compound that stimulates the kidneys. They also contain amentoflavone, another compound with antiviral properties. If you want to burn juniper needles, you can strip some from your garden shrub and begin. It doesn’t take a lot to create a powerful smell. If you are wondering how to use juniper for herbal uses other than burning it, you can purchase juniper commercially in various forms. Look for capsules of oil, teas, and lotions. Some people ingest juniper, often in tea form. This is said to be helpful in treating bronchitis. It may also numb pain, fight inflammation, and increase production of stomach acid. It is also reputed to disinfect the urinary tract. Herbal practitioners suggest that drinking juniper tea helps to flush excess fluids from the body. This diuretic effect gets rid of the body’s excess uric acid. High in natural insulin, juniper may also reduce blood sugar levels. You can also apply essential oil of juniper topically. Rubbed on the skin, it may help with skin issues like acne or athlete's foot. Some use it to treat warts, skin growths, cystitis, psoriasis, and eczema. In addition to scale-berry oil, an oil can be made from juniper wood. It is called cade oil and is considered an important treatment of psoriasis on the scalp. Juniper oil has antibacterial properties, so it can be used to treat skin wounds and snakebites. Rubbing the oil into the skin may also help with joint and muscle pain. Disclaimer: The contents of this article is for educational and gardening purposes only. Before using ANY herb or plant for medicinal purposes, please consult a physician or a medical herbalist for advice.
Gardening tips, videos, info and more delivered right to your inbox!
Sign up for the Gardening Know How newsletter today and receive a free download of our most popular eBook "How to Grow Delicious Tomatoes."
Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.
10 Front Yard Plants That Will Add Value To Your Home – According To Experts
These stand-out plants will boost your home's curb appeal and make it more appealing to buyers. Invest in your front yard landscaping now, and these expert picks will be established by the time you move on.
By Melanie Griffiths
Growing Mushrooms On Logs: 5 Best Mushroom Varieties To Try
You’ll find growing mushrooms on logs is simple, enjoyable, safe and tasty – as long as you pick the right kinds! We reveal five of the best for an endless feast of fungi
By Janey Goulding
How To Grow A Potted Juniper: Caring For Juniper Trees In Containers
Small juniper trees grow well in containers. Click here for information on how to care for potted junipers.
By Teo Spengler
Japanese Juniper Care – How To Grow A Japanese Juniper Plant
If you want a "set and forget" type of plant, Japanese juniper care is minimal and easy once established. For more information about this shrub of low heights and how to grow it in your garden, click the following article.
By Bonnie L. Grant
Mountain Cedar Information: Is Mountain Cedar Pollen Causing You Problems
Mountain cedar is a tree with a common name full of contradictions. The tree is not a cedar at all, and its native range is central Texas, not known for its mountains. In fact, trees called mountain cedar are actually ashe juniper trees. Click here to learn more.
By Teo Spengler
Are All Juniper Berries Edible – Is It Safe To Eat Juniper Berries
Juniper berries have been used as a strong flavoring for wine, mead, and other alcoholic beverages, as well as a spice for meats, stews, sauerkraut, and other dishes. Upon reading this, you may be wondering are all juniper berries edible? Click here for that answer.
By Darcy Larum
Juniper Berry Uses – What To Do With Juniper Berries
Given that they are prolific and the fruit looks so much like a berry, the natural question is ‘can you eat juniper berries?” If so, what do you do with juniper berries? Click on the following article to find out how to use juniper berries along with some useful juniper berry recipes.
By Amy Grant
Juniper Berry Harvest Tips: How To Pick Juniper Berries
There are about 40 species of juniper, most of which produce toxic berries. But for the educated eye, Juniperus communis, has edible, pleasantly pungent berries. Click this article for tips on how to pick juniper berries and how to recognize safe juniper plants.
By Bonnie L. Grant
Growing Juniper ‘Blue Star’ – Learn About Blue Star Juniper Plants
With a name like "Blue Star," this juniper sounds as American as apple pie but, in fact, it is native to Afghanistan, the Himalayas, and western China. Gardeners love Blue Star for its thick, starry, blue-green foliage and its graceful rounded habit. Learn more here.
By Teo Spengler
Can You Prune An Overgrown Juniper – Tips For Overgrown Juniper Pruning
Juniper shrubs and trees are a great asset to landscaping. But sometimes, like the best things in life, they get away from us. What was once a smart shrub is now a wild, overgrown monster. So what can you do with a juniper that?s gotten out of hand? Find out here.
By Liz Baessler