Herb: Walnut

Latin name: Juglans regia

Family: Juglandaceae (Walnut Family)

Medicinal use of Walnut:

The walnut tree has a long history of medicinal use, being used in folk medicine to treat a wide range of complaints. The leaves are alterative, anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, astringent and depurative. They are used internally the treatment of constipation, chronic coughs, asthma, diarrhoea, dyspepsia etc. The leaves are also used to treat skin ailments and purify the blood. They are considered to be specific in the treatment of strumous sores. Male inflorescences are made into a broth and used in the treatment of coughs and vertigo. The rind is anodyne and astringent. It is used in the treatment of diarrhoea and anaemia. The seeds are antilithic, diuretic and stimulant. They are used internally in the treatment of low back pain, frequent urination, weakness of both legs, chronic cough, asthma, constipation due to dryness or anaemia and stones in the urinary tract. Externally, they are made into a paste and applied as a poultice to areas of dermatitis and eczema. The oil from the seed is anthelmintic. It is also used in the treatment of menstrual problems and dry skin conditions. The cotyledons are used in the treatment of cancer. Walnut has a long history of folk use in the treatment of cancer, some extracts from the plant have shown anticancer activity. The bark and root bark are anthelmintic, astringent and detergent. The plant is used in Bach flower remedies - the keywords for prescribing it are "Oversensitive to ideas and influences" and "The link-breaker".

Description of the plant:


20 m
(66 feet)



Habitat of the herb:

Forests in the Himalayas, preferring a northerly aspect in the west but a southerly or westerly aspect in the east of the range.

Edible parts of Walnut:

Seed - eaten raw or used in confections, cakes, ice cream etc. A delicious flavour. The seed can also be ground into a meal and used as a flavouring in sweet and savoury dishes. The unripe fruits are pickled in vinegar. An edible oil is obtained from the seed, it should not be stored for any length of time since it tends to go rancid quickly. The oil has a pleasant flavour and is used in salads or for cooking. The sap is tapped in spring and used to make a sugar. The finely ground shells are used in the stuffing of "agnolotti" pasta. They have also been used as adulterant of spices. The dried green husks contain 2.5 - 5% ascorbic acid (vitamin C) - this can be extracted and used as a vitamin supplement. The leaves are used as a tea.

Other uses of the herb:

A yellow dye is obtained from the green husks. It is green. The green nuts (is this the same as the green husks?) and the leaves are also used. The rind of unripe fruits is a good source of tannin. A brown dye is obtained from the leaves and mature husks. It does not require a mordant and turns black if prepared in an iron pot. The dye is often used as a colouring and tonic for dark hair. The leaves and the husks can be dried for later use. A golden-brown dye is obtained from the catkins in early summer. It does not require a mordant. A drying oil is obtained from the seed. It is used in soap making, paints, etc. It is not very stable and quickly goes rancid. The nuts can be used as a wood polish. Simply crack open the shell and rub the kernel into the wood to release the oils. Wipe off with a clean cloth. The dried fruit rind is used to paint doors, window frames etc (it probably protects the wood due to its tannin content). The shells may be used as anti-skid agents for tyres, blasting grit, and in the preparation of activated carbon. The leaves contain juglone, this has been shown to have pesticidal and herbicidal properties. The crushed leaves are an insect repellent. Juglone is also secreted from the roots of the tree, it has an inhibitory effect on the growth of many other plants. Bark of the tree and the fruit rind are dried and used as a tooth cleaner. They can also be used fresh. Wood - heavy, hard, durable, close grained, seasons and polishes well. A very valuable timber tree, it is used for furniture making, veneer etc.

Propagation of Walnut:

The seed is best sown as soon as it is ripe in individual deep pots in a cold frame. You need to protect it from mice, birds, squirrels etc. The seed usually germinates in late winter or the spring. Plant out the seedlings into their permanent positions in early summer and give some protection from the cold for their first winter or two. The seed can also be stored in cool moist conditions (such s the salad compartment of a fridge) over the winter and sown in early spring but it may then require a period of cold stratification before it will germinate. Named varieties are propagated by budding.

Cultivation of the herb:

Forests in the Himalayas, preferring a northerly aspect in the west but a southerly or westerly aspect in the east of the range.

Known hazards of Juglans regia:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.