Juniper Berries

Botanical Name: Juniperus communis Family: Cupressaceae

Common name(s): Juniper


  • Evergreen tree or shrub | Zones 2-9 | Gardens, yards, fields
  • Full sun


Harvest the ripe berries (they ripen the second year and will be dark purple). If drying, dry in the shade to preserve the oils.


Infusion: Steep, covered, 1 teaspoon of the berries in a cup or boiling water for 20 minutes. Drink 1 cup, 2-3x/day.

Tincture: 10-30 drops 3x/day.

External: Apply as a diluted essential oil (made by steam distillation)

Note: You can also chew on the berries, but not too many (6-10/day).


Constituents: Volatile (essential) oil, various sugars, resin, vitamin C

Actions: Antiseptic, carminative, diuretic antirheumatic, emmenagogue

Uses: Cystitis, edema, digestive issues, chronic arthritis/rheumatic conditions, stimulates menstruation and increases menstrual flow

Cautions: Should not be used in the case of Kidney disease, infection, or pregnancy because of it’s powerful action on the kidneys.


  • Spicy, sweet, warm


  • The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra
  • Indian Herbology of North America, Alma R. Hutchens
  • Holistic Herbal, David Hoffman
  • Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Andrew Chevallier
  • The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody
  • Backyard Foraging, Ellen Zachos
  • photo credit: Waxy blue berries via photopin (license)

Eastern Red Cedar’s (J. virginiana) berries are also medicinal – I remember these berries on our cedar tree when I was a kid. And, yes, juniper berries (unripe) are used to make gin.