Black Walnut Leaf
Botanical: Juglans nigra
Family: Juglandaceae (walnut)
Other common names: Black Walnut, Greek Nut, Carya, Jupiter’s Nut
Rich in vitamin C and other important nutrients, Black Walnut Leaf is a powerful astringent that helps to remedy diarrhea and excessive menstrual bleeding. It is also said to relieve eczema, psoriasis and many other skin ailments. Moreover, it is an antiseptic and antibacterial that combats infection and has been used in Germany for decades to clear sinus infection and dry up runny nose.
The Walnut tree is a large, handsome, deciduous hardwood with a rough bark, and it sometimes exceeds one hundred feet in height. There are fifteen species of Walnut growing worldwide in the dry, temperate zones of Asia, Europe and North and South America. Six species are native to the United States, and the Black Walnut is among them, growing in the eastern states and up through Canada.
Black Walnut is one of the best-known, largest and most valuable native hardwoods, but it is not plentiful. It does, however, grow rapidly in mixed forests and rich, moist, well-drained soil, such as found in valleys. Certain plants are sensitive to the roots and leaves of Black Walnuts, which exude a distinctive odor when bruised, and will not grow under or near them. Walnut is a highly ornamental tree and is often planted for roadside shade and shelterbelts. It is cultivated for commercial walnut production in Europe and the United States, where it is used for culinary and medicinal purposes, and its beautiful, figured wood is made into fine paneling, salad bowls and in cabinet making.
Walnut has been used in herbal medicine for thousands of years, with the Roman naturalist, Pliny, mentioning it as far back as the first century A.D. Its botanical name, Juglans, is derived from the Latin reference to the god, Jupiter, and glans, meaning “nut” or “walnut.” In the Golden Age, when men lived on acorns, the gods dined on walnuts, thus providing us with another common name, Jupiter’s Nut. The English name is partly Teutonic in origin, with the Germans calling it wallnuss. The esteemed seventeenth-century herbalist, Nicholas Culpeper, prescribed Walnut Leaf to draw poisonous venom from snakebites and spider bites.
Native Americans used both Black Walnut Leaf and Black Walnut Hull in their medicinal preparations for skin problems and as a laxative; and long before vitamins were discovered, folk medicine practitioners knew by experience and results that walnut jam, made in a certain way, was a pleasant, body-repairing material, which we now confirm to be a rich supply of vitamin C, beta-carotene and minerals.
Herbalists used Black Walnut both externally and internally for easing scrofula, ulcers, wounds, rickets, scurvy and as a gargle; and Russian military hospitals also used Walnut as a cleansing and quick healing medication for wounds and ulcers. Walnut is a popular food and is included in candy, ice cream and cake flavoring. The outside pulp of the nut is used as a dye (it was actually the main source of brown hair dye until early in the twentieth century).
In the last century, Black Walnut was listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia from 1820 through 1905, and the leaves, husks, inner bark and nuts have remained a valuable treatment in herbal medicine to this day. The leaves are stripped off the tree in June and July and dried to a parchment-like consistency for use in medicinal preparations. Some of the constituents in Black Walnut include beta-carotene, B-vitamins, fatty acids (linoleic, oleic, linolenic, palmitic), calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, lysine, protein, limonene, sulfur, iodine, phosphorus, quercetin, potassium, selenium, silicon, zinc, tannin and juglone (5 hydroxy-1, 4-napthoquinone) , and the leaves provide large amounts of vitamin C.
Black Walnut Leaf is highly astringent, and this quality is said to shrink sweat glands and reduce excessive sweating. The tannin in the leaf (which provides the astringency) is also used to help control and relieve diarrhea and menorrhagia, the excessive loss of blood during menstrual periods.
For the relief of runny nose and head colds, Black Walnut Leaf has been used for decades as a popular remedy to help dry up continual sinus discharges in young children and adults. As an effective herbal antiseptic and antibacterial, it combats infection and has been used in Germany for decades to clear sinus infection.
Black Walnut Leaf is thought to possess detergent properties, and as such, it is used to cleanse the blood and alleviate scrofulous conditions, as well as acne, eczema and psoriasis, particularly in older people. It is said to relieve itching and promote the healing of the skin. (It may also be made into a topical wash for these ailments.)
As a vermifuge, Black Walnut Leaf (like Walnut Hull) is believed to cleanse the body of many types of parasites, including ringworm.
Black Walnut Leaf is an antiseptic with antibacterial agents in the essential oil (juglone) that combats infectious micro-organisms and bacterial infection. The large vitamin C content in Black Walnut Leaf is also thought to be responsible for fighting infection. It has been used historically to combat infectious poisons, venomous bites, rabid dog bites, boils and gangrene.
As an antifungal, Black Walnut is thought to be an excellent treatment for fungal infections, relieving leprosy-type skin diseases, athlete’s foot and Candida albicans.
Black Walnut Leaf is considered a tonic that aids digestion and the intestinal system. It helps to promote the appetite, relieve colic, heartburn and catarrhal enteritis. As a cholagogue, Black Walnut has been used to stimulate the flow of bile into the intestines and thought to ease bilious colic and pain in the spleen.
Used externally, Black Walnut’s antibacterial and antiseptic qualities are beneficial when included in washes for skin conditions and running sores; also in mouthwashes for sore throat, inflamed tonsils and sores in the mouth and throat; and women may also use it in a douche for leukorrhoea.
Currently, there are no warnings or contraindications with the use of Black Walnut Leaf; however,repeated topical application of Black Walnut Leaf Herbal Supplement to the skin is not advised due to the risk of developing skin rashes or skin tumors. Because of its strong astringency, Black Walnut should not be used continually for long periods of time. People with liver disease should discuss its use with their doctors before using Black Walnut Leaf.