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The evergreen shrub Juniperus communis, sometimes known as the juniper tree, is a species that grows around the world, including Asia, Europe, and North America.
It is characterized by the production of seed cones, which are more commonly known as juniper berries. The hue of the berries can vary, but the majority of them are dark blue. Their scent is frequently described as having a woodsy or spicy quality.
Due to their astringent, pine-like flavor, they are often used as a spice or flavoring agent in relatively small amounts.
These little berries have been used medicinally and in food since ancient times, and current research indicates that they might have several health advantages.
Here are 5 emerging benefits of juniper berries.
1. Rich in a variety of essential nutrients and potent plant compounds
Even though there is not a lot of information available regarding the nutrition of juniper berries, it is well-known that they contain a variety of vitamins and plant compounds.
One ounce (28 grams) of these berries contains 10% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin C, making them an excellent source of this water-soluble vitamin, just like the vast majority of other types of berries.
Vitamin C is necessary for maintaining healthy blood vessels as well as the immune system and the production of collagen. In addition to this, it is a powerful antioxidant, meaning that it protects your cells from the damage that can be caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals.
The berries also contain a wide range of plant chemicals, including coumarins, volatile oils, and flavonoid antioxidants, which are chemical compounds with various sorts of defense mechanisms.
Monoterpenes are found in the volatile oils found in juniper berries. Some examples of these monoterpenes include limonene, camphor, and beta-pinene. It has been demonstrated that monoterpenes possess properties that are anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antioxidant, and antibacterial.
In addition, coumarins and flavonoid antioxidants provide a wide variety of benefits to one’s health. A diet high in these compounds can be beneficial to one’s health and may offer some protection against the development of chronic conditions such as cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.
2. Produce effects that are anti-inflammatory as well as antioxidant
Consuming foods that are high in antioxidants is essential for good health because these foods help to protect your cells from damage that could otherwise lead to illness.
Juniper berries contain a high concentration of essential oils as well as flavonoids, both of which are powerful antioxidants and may also assist in reducing inflammation.
In a test tube investigation, it was shown that juniper berry essential oil contains over 70 distinct components, the bulk of which were the monoterpenes alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, myrcene, and limonene, as well as sabinene. All of these components contribute to the powerful antioxidant effects of the oil.
According to the findings of the study, the oil boosted the activity of the enzymes catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase, hence minimizing cellular damage in yeast cells. These enzymes’ principal role is to protect cells from free radical damage.
In a separate experiment, it was found that monoterpenes, which are found in high concentrations in juniper berry essential oil, significantly decreased inflammation in human skin cells. The researchers put this result down to the oil’s high monoterpene content.
There is also a high concentration of the flavonoids rutin, luteolin, and apigenin in juniper berries. Research conducted in test tubes, on animals, and in humans have shown that these flavonoids have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
3. Could potentially possess anti-diabetic effects
Juniper berries have traditionally been used to treat diabetes, and recent research confirms that they may have anti-diabetic properties. Juniper berries are another name for juniperus communis.
According to the findings of a study conducted on diabetic rats, administering juniper berry extract resulted in a significant decrease in blood sugar levels and an increase in levels of heart-protective HDL cholesterol.
In another study examining the anti-diabetic effects of juniper berry extract from China, diabetic rats exhibited significant reductions in blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
Researchers believe that berries’ anti-diabetic benefits are due to their high antioxidant content.
Even though these results are encouraging, additional research on humans is required to confirm this possible health advantage.
4. May be beneficial to the health of the heart
Juniper berries have been shown to improve HDL cholesterol levels, which are the “good” cholesterol, and reduce high triglyceride levels, as well as LDL cholesterol levels, which are the “bad” cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels.
Compared to a control group, treating diabetic rats’ juniper berry extract decreased their total cholesterol and triglyceride levels by 57% and 37%, respectively.
In a separate experiment with rats, juniper berry extract was found to raise levels of HDL, also known as “good” cholesterol.
According to research, consuming berries is an effective strategy to minimize heart disease risk factors; however, human studies on this topic are lacking.
It is unknown, however, whether the consumption of juniper berries can lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease until additional human studies on the effects of juniper berries on heart health are conducted.
5. Properties that are antibacterial and antifungal
Research conducted in both test tubes and on animals demonstrates that juniper berries possess potent antimicrobial and antifungal properties. The powerful compounds in their oil, such as sabinene, limonene, and myrcene, as well as alpha- and beta-pinene, are responsible for these effects.
The essential oil from juniper berries showed antibacterial and antifungal properties against 16 different types of bacteria, yeasts, yeast-like fungi, and dermatophytes in a test tube research. Skin-growing fungi called dermatophytes can result in conditions like ringworm.
The most effective antifungal properties were demonstrated against dermatophytes and species of Candida, the fungi that are responsible for fungal infections such as those that affect the mouth and yeast.
Three bacteria, M. gordonae, M. avium, and M. intracellulare, can infect people severely. Another test-tube investigation discovered that the juniper berry essential oil considerably reduced the activity of these bacteria.
A wide range of bacteria, including Campylobacter jejuni, a major cause of food poisoning, and Staphylococcus aureus, a pathogen that can cause skin, lung, and bone infections, may be resistant to the extract from the berries. These two germs are on the list of things the extract might be able to kill.
Although it is abundantly clear that juniper berries contain antibacterial and antifungal properties, further research on humans is required to determine whether or not the extract from these berries can be utilized to treat bacterial or fungal infections.