JUNIPER


By Biomedical Engineer Mark Lubin

13 Patents issued or pending with USPTO



Traditional uses of juniper berries have included a variety of inflammatory diseases and infectious diseases including chronic and rheumatic arthritis, edema, gout, bronchitis, colds, fungal infections, hemorrhoids, wounds, gynecological diseases and general joint inflammation. It is known to purify and balance blood chemistry.  It stimulates appetite and digestion.  American Indians used juniper for tuberculosis, fevers, colds, coughs, sore throats, urinary tract infections and intestinal disorders.  Tinctures from its berries and branches have been used for skin irritations and alopecia. It has also been used to combat urinary tract infections.  Juniper is considered an expectorant, analgesic, diuretic, stomach tonic, carminative, rubefacient, and disinfectant.  Rudolf Weiss, M.D. pointed out that along with chronic arthritis and gout juniper is indicated for “the large group of neuralgic-muscular rheumatic diseases, including tendonopathies and myogeloses.”  Michael Tierra, N.D. documents juniper’s traditional uses for gout, rheumatism, arthritis and urinary infections.  Culpeper found that juniper was good for coughs, shortness of breath, consumption, pains in the belly, rupture, cramps, convulsions, hemorrhoids, worms, palsies and to increase appetite.  The American Materia Medica and Pharmacognosy says that in addition to its renal and nephritic uses, juniper is a gastric stimulant and catarrhal detoxifier.  Juniper is also part of the Ayurvedic Indian Materia Medica, as it is quite commonly found in the Himalayan Mountains and valleys of India.  In Ayurveda, juniper is suggested for urinary issues, digestive ailments, rheumatism, and as an antiseptic.  Today herbalists frequently use juniper for cystitis, gout, and rheumatic joints.  The German Commission E monograph recommends the dried fruit on a daily basis for rheumatic disorders.


Expanded Commission E Monographs.  Blumenthal M, et al.  Integrative Medicine Communicatons, 2000.


Culpeper, N.  The English Physitian. 1653.


Duke, JA.  CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL, 1985


Duke, JA.  CRC Handbook (and Database) of Biological Activities of Phytochemicals, CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL, 1992.

 Database http://www.ars-grin.gov/duke   


Ellingwood F.  American Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Pharmacognosy. Portland: Eclectic Med. Publ., 1983


Foster S, Hobbs C.  Medicinal Plants & Herbs. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 2002.


Griffith HW. Healing Herbs:  The Essential Guide.  Tuscon: Fisher Books,2000.


Gundermann KJ, et al.  Phytodolor - effects and efficacy of an herbal medicine.  Wien Med Wochenschr. 2007;157(13-14):343-7.


Hobbs C.  Herbal Remedies for Dummies.  New York: Wiley Pubs. 1998.


Hoffmann D.  Holistic Herbal. London: Thorsons (1990), 1983-2002.


Mabey R, Mcintyre, M.  The New Age Herbalist.  Prentice Hall, 1988.


Miceli N, et al.  Comparative Analysis of Flavonoid Profile, Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Activity of the Berries of Juniperus communis L. var. communis and Juniperus communis L. var. saxatilis Pall. J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Jul 6.


Nadkarni AK, Nadkarni KM. Indian Materia Medica. (Vols 1 and 2). Bombay, India: Popular  Pradashan, 1908, 1976


Tierra,M.  The Way of Herbs.  New York: Pocket Books. 1990.


Weiss RF.  Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Beaconsfield, 1988.


Wichtl M, Bisset NG, eds.  Herbal Drugs and Pharmaceuticals.  1994 Stuttgart: Medpharm Scientific Publishers

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Juniper - Research


Juniperus communis (the species used by RZN for its extracts) is listed on the FDA's GRAS list: "Part 582, Substances Generally Recognized as Safe, Sec 582.20, Essential Oils, oleoresins (solvent-free), and natural extractives"


Juniper’s safety has been established in a number of reports as well.  Petlevski et al. (2008) showed that a mixture of plant extracts (including those from both juniper and dandelion), when administered chronically in CBA/HZa mice, produced no acute, subchronic, or chronic effects after six months either biochemically (urea, creatinine, aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine amino-transferase (ALT), and cholesterol) or histopathologically (kidneys, liver, spleen, pancreas, testes and lungs).  Schilcher and Leuschner (1997) evaluated the nephrotoxicity of juniper oil, a phytomedicine with diuretic aquaretic activity, in male Sprague-Dawley rats.  After oral administration of up to 900mg/kg of juniper oil in one group and 400mg/kg terpinene-4-ol (a known component of juniper berry extracts) there were no induced changes in function or morphology of the kidneys at the tested doses, and they were revealed to be nontoxic.



The berry extract has shown significant antimicrobial ability against gram-positive bacteria.  Juniper essential oil from the berries was tested against sixteen bacterial species, seven yeast-like fungi, three yeast species, and four dermatophytes.  Juniper illustrated antibacterial properties against both gram-positive and gram-negative species, fungicidal activities, and anti-dermatophyte results.  Bioassay fraction tests illustrated that juniper berries have antiparasitic, nematicidal, antibacterial, and antifungal properties (Cavaleiro et al 2006; Filipowicz et al 2003, Miceli et al, 2009).  


Angioni et al. (2003) determined that juniper inhibited Staphylococcus aureus.  Tests have shown juniper’s essential oils produce a number of other antifungal effects (Pepeljnjak et al. 2005).  Its insecticidal abilities have shown to be more productive than malathion (Wedge et al. 2009).    


Juniper extract exhibited significant antimicrobial effects upon Candida albicans, Aspergillus niger, and others (El-Ghorab et al. 2008).  In a study from Turkey’s Gebze Institute of Technology (Karaman et al. 2003), juniper inhibited 57 different strains of bacteria, including those from the genera Xanthomonas, Staphylococcus, Enterobacter, Cinetobacter, Bacillus, Brevundimonas, Brucella, Escherichia, Micrococcus and Pseudomonas.  Eleven Candida albicans species were also shown to be inhibited by juniper and antimicrobial activity against Fusobacterium necrophorum, Clostridium perfringens, Actinomyces bovis and Candida albicans by Johnston et al (2001).  Angioni et al (2003) also showed juniper to be effective against Staphylococcus aureus.


Juniper’s diterpenes and sesquiterpene showed activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Topcu et al. 1999).  


Juniper was shown effective against human carcinoma cells (Moujir et al. 2008, Wang et al. 2002).   


Ethanolic and aqueous extracts of juniper berries had hypoglycaemic and hypolipidemic effects, respectively, in alloxan-induced diabetic rats (Ju, et al 2008).  

 

Juniper essential oils were found to inhibit replication of the SARS-CoV and HSV-1 (herpes simplex) viruses (Loizzo et al. 2008; Sassi et al. 2008).  Some of the terpenoids in juniper displayed anti-malarial effects (Okasaka et al. 2006).  Juniper leaves and berries also contain a significant amount of antioxidant potency and free radical scavenging abilities. (Al-Mustafa 2008; Lim et al. 2002).  Studies show significant prostaglandin-2 inhibition, producing an anti-inflammatory effect and the blocking of pain (Akkol et al. 2009).


Juniper extract also appears to increase the level of phosphorylation in adipose tissue with increased AMP-activated protein kinase.  In mice studies this reduced obesity and increased the efficiency of insulin and leptin (Kim et al. 2008).  


The polysaccharides in juniper stimulated macrophage and mononuclear phagocyte activity in a study at Montana State Univ. (Schepetkin et al. 2005).


In a study at the Karl Franzens University’s School of Pharmacognosy, Schneider et al. 2004 showed that juniper extract inhibited LOX activity, the enzyme conversion process involved in the production of proinflammatory leukotrienes.  


At the UC Davis Dept. of Pediatric Nephrology researchers (Butani et al. 2003) found that juniper oil given to rats increased prostaglandin F excretion and sped up insulin clearance, both associated with lower inflammatory and increased immune system efficiency.


Juniper’s essential oils were found to inhibit bone resorption—the primary mechanism in osteoporosis (Mühlbauer et al. 2003).  


Juniper proved to be toxic to cells infected with HIV-1 and HIV-3 at 50% concentration (Salido et al. 2002).  


Juniper oil was fed to mice at 5wt%, and their levels of prostaglandins, TNF levels and other markers were tested. The juniper oil diets resulted in higher levels of TNF and lower levels of PGE2 and cytokines IL-6 and IL-10 compared to controls (Chavali et al. 1998).


In another study, juniper oil reduced liver damage and increased liver microcirculation and bile flow, illustrating that juniper was liver-protective (Jones et al. 1998).


Akkol EK, et al.  A comparative study on the antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory activities of five Juniperus taxa.

 J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Jun 6.


Al-Mustafa AH, et al.  Antioxidant activity of some Jordanian medicinal plants used traditionally for treatment of diabetes.

 Pak J Biol Sci. 2008 Feb 1;11(3):351-8.


Angioni A, et al.  Chemical composition of the essential oils of Juniperus from ripe and unripe berries and leaves and their antimicrobial activity. J Agric Food Chem.  2003 May 7;51(10):3073-8.


Butani L, et al.  Amelioration of tacrolimus induced nephrotoxicity in rats using juniper oil. Transplantation. 2003 Jul 27;76(2):306-11.


Cavaleiro C, et al.  Antifungal activity of Juniperus essential oils against dermatophyte, Aspergillus and Candida strains.

 J Appl Microbiol. 2006 Jun;100(6):1333-8.


Chavali SR, et al. Increased production of TNF-alpha and decreased levels of dienoic eicosanoids, IL-6, and IL-10 in mice fed menhaden oil and juniper oil diets in response to an intraperitoneal lethal dose of LPS.

 Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 1998 Aug;59(2):89-93.


Duke, JA.  Database http://www.ars-grin.gov/duke


Ellingwood F.  American Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Pharmacognosy. Portland: Eclectic Med. Publ., 1983


El-Ghorab A, et al.  Chemical composition of volatile extract and biological activities of volatile and less-volatile extracts of juniper berry. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Jul 9;56(13):5021-5.


Fierascu I, Ungureanu C, et al. Genoprotective, antioxidant, antifungal and anti-inflammatory evaluation of hydroalcoholic extract of wild-growing Juniperus communis native to Romanian southern sub-Carpathian hills.  Complement Altern Med. 2018 Jan 4;18(1):3


Filipowicz N, et al.  Antibacterial and antifungal activity of juniper berry oil and its selected components.

 Phytother Res. 2003 Mar;17(3):227-31.


Foster S, Hobbs C.  Medicinal Plants & Herbs. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 2002.


Hoffmann D. Holistic Herbal. London: Thorsons, 1983-2002.


Johnston WH, et al.  Antimicrobial activity of some Pacific Northwest woods against anaerobic bacteria and yeast.

 Phytother Res. 2001 Nov;15(7):586-8.


Jones SM, et al.  Dietary juniper berry oil minimizes hepatic reperfusion injury in the rat. Hepatology. 1998 Oct;28(4):1042-50.


Ju JB, et al.  Comparison between ethanolic and aqueous extracts from Chinese juniper berries for hypoglycaemic and hypolipidemic effects in alloxan-induced diabetic rats.  J Ethnopharmacol. 2008 Jan 4;115(1):110-5


Karaman I, et al.  Antimicrobial activity of aqueous and methanol extracts of Juniperus oxycedrus.

 J Ethnopharmacol. 2003 Apr;85(2-3):231-5.


Kim SJ, et al.  Anti-obesity effects of Juniperus chinensis extract are associated with increased AMP-activated protein kinase expression and phosphorylation in the visceral adipose tissue of rats. Biol Pharm Bull. 2008 Jul;31(7):1415-21.


Lim JP, et al. Free radical scavengers from the heartwood of Juniperus chinensis. Arch Pharm Res. 2002 Aug;25(4):449-52.


Loizzo MR, et al.  Phytochemical analysis and in vitro antiviral activities of the essential oils of seven Lebanon species.  

 Chem Biodivers. 2008 Mar;5(3):461-70.


Mabey R, ed. The New Age Herbalist. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1941.


Nadkarni AK, Nadkarni KM. Indian Materia Medica. (Vols 1 and 2). Bombay, India: Popular Pradashan, 1908, 1976


Miceli N, et al.  Comparative Analysis of Flavonoid Profile, Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Activity of the Berries of Juniperus communis

 J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Aug 12;57(15):6570-7


Moujir L, et al.  Cytotoxic activity of diterpenes and extracts of Juniperus brevifolia.  Planta Med. 2008 Jun;74(7):751-3.


Mühlbauer RC, et al.  Common herbs, essential oils, and monoterpenes potently modulate bone metabolism.

 Bone. 2003 Apr;32(4):372-80.


Okasaka M, et al.  Terpenoids from Juniperus polycarpus var. seravschanica. Phytochemistry. 2006 Dec;67(24):2635-40.


Pepeljnjak S, et al.  Antimicrobial activity of juniper berry essential oil.  Acta Pharm. 2005 Dec;55(4):417-22.


Petlevski R, et al.  Toxicological assessment of P-9801091 plant mixture extract after chronic administration in CBA/HZg mice - a biochemical and histological study. Coll Antropol. 2008 Jun;32(2):577-81.


Salido S, et al.  Chemical studies of essential oils of Juniperus oxycedrus.  J Ethnopharmacol. 2002 Jun;81(1):129-34.


Sassi AB, et al.  Antiviral activity of some Tunisian medicinal plants against Herpes simplex virus type 1.

 Nat Prod Res. 2008 Jan 10;22(1):53-65.


Schepetkin IA, et al.  Macrophage immunomodulatory activity of polysaccharides isolated from Juniperus scopolorum.

 Int Immunopharmacol. 2005 Dec;5(13- 14):1783-99.


Schilcher H, Leuschner F. The potential nephrotoxic effects of essential juniper oil. Arzneimittelforschung. 1997 Jul;47(7):855-8.


Schneider I, et al.  Inhibitory activity of Juniperus communis on 12(S)-HETE production in human platelets.

 Planta Med. 2004 May;70(5):471-4.


Souravh B, Naresh SG, et al.  A Phytopharmacological Review on a Medicinal Plant: Juniperus communis.  

 Int Sch Res Notices v.2014. PMC4897106


Tierra M. The Way of Herbs. New York: Pocket Books, 1990.


Topçu G, et al.  Diterpenes from the berries of Juniperus excelsa. Phytochemistry. 1999 Apr;50(7):1195-9.


Wang WS, et al.  Terpenes from Juniperus przewalskii and their antitumor activities. Pharmazie. 2002 May;57(5):343-5.


Wedge DE, et al.  Antifungal and insecticidal activity of two Juniperus essential oils. Nat Prod Commun. 2009 Jan;4(1):123-7.


Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Beaconsfield, 1988.




Juniper ― Safety & Toxicity


No toxicity, morbidity, or side effects were found by Mascolo et al (1987) in a study of acute toxicity of large doses (oral, 2.5g/kg) of juniper extract.  The study also found that a dose of 3g/kg induced hypothermia and diarrhea in 10-30% of the animals.  Intraperitoneal injection of this same 3g/kg in another study produced an LD50 value (Fenaroli's, 1975).


There are some case reports of dermatitic and rhinitis reactions in individuals sensitive to pollen or certain extract chemicals, but in general the aqueous and ethanolic extracts are considered safe where allergic reactions are not involved.  


Potential dermal carcinogenicity was demonstrated (Schoket et al, 1990) where DNA-adduct formation due to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH's) was found in certain juniper tar preparations applied cutaneously.  [Please bear in mind, tar is prepared from a different species (Juniperus oxycedrus) by destructive distillation of the woody branches and the bark]


Juniper is generally contraindicated in pregnancy, breast-feeding, or when inflammatory renal disease is present (Blumenthal, 2000, Wang et al, 2004).


Herbs with diuretic action should be used cautiously in patient taking lithium drugs.


Herbal liquid extracts are expressed as [1:1 (g/ml)], meaning that each ml is 50% pure extract, or 500mg.  Typical recommended therapeutic dosage of juniper liquid extract is 3ml (Blumenthal et al, 2000, Barnes et al, 2002), 3 t.i.d. or 9,000mg, equivalent to 4,500mg pure juniper extract.  


Each 2-capsule dose of Arthri Comfort contains less than 520mg pure juniper extract, less than approximately 12% of the standard dose.


Each 2-capsule dose of Migra End contains less than 780mg pure juniper extract, less than approximately 18% of the standard dose.


Blumenthal M, et al.  Expanded Commission E Monographs.  Integrative Medicine Communicatons, 2000.


Fenaroli's Handbook of Flavor Ingredients, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 1975.


Mascolo N, et al.  Biological screening of Italian medicinal plants for anti-inflammatory activity.  Phytother Res. 1987;1:28-31.  


Schoket B, et al.  Formation of DNA adducts in the skin of psoriasis patients, in human skin in organ culture, and in mouse skin and lung following topical application of coal-tar and juniper tar.  J Invest Dermatol. 1990 Feb;94(2):241-6.


Wang S, et al.  Effects of the pine needle abortifacient, isocupressic acid, on bovine oocyte maturation and preimplantation embryo development.  Anim Reprod Sci. 2004 Apr;81(3-4):237-44.