The black walnut tree has been used for thousands of years as a medicine.
Black walnuts (Juglans nigra) grow wild across the United States and are the second most cultivated walnut in North America, following English walnuts.
Black walnut trees were an extremely important food source and traditional medicine to many North American tribes.
Many people think of black walnut trees as a nuisance. They drop their nuts and hulls on driveways, roadways, and lawns, and if they aren’t picked up immediately the green fruit rinds turn black and will stain sidewalks and driveways. This can sometimes leave behind a mess homeowners don’t want to deal with.
Walnut bark, leaves and nuts all contain a chemical called juglone, which is toxic to horses, cows and other animals, causing serious health issues that can be fatal if left untreated. Many farmers remove walnut trees in locations they plan to raise livestock for this reason.
Aside from this negative aspect, black walnuts are extremely nutritious, and are an important food source to local wildlife.
Black walnuts are 75% higher in protein than English walnuts, which provide 4 grams of protein per 1-ounce (28-gram) serving. They are also a good source of antioxidants — substances that can prevent or delay cellular damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals. For example, they contain proanthocyanidins, which may protect against sun damage, improve vision, and increase blood circulation.
For the last couple thousand years black walnut, the hulls specifically, have been used to rid the body of unwanted parasites.
The primary active constituent in black walnut is a “naphthoquinone”, known as juglone. Juglone is a natural herbicide that exerts an inhibitory effect on certain enzymes needed for metabolic function. It contains a high tannin content which is also responsible for the anti-parasitic properties, helping to eliminate microbes from the large intestine. The high tannin and juglone content is also thought to oxygenate the blood which can kill parasites and working as a laxative, it expels parasites as part of its cleansing of the body. It’s powerful abilities work when used topically as well and have long been used to treat parasitic infections of the skin such as ringworm.
Black walnut hulls are also considered a tonic that aids digestion and the intestinal system. It helps to relieve heartburn and flatulence and as a cholagogue, it stimulates the flow of bile into the intestines and is thought to help the spleen.
The hulls also encourage bowel regularity due to their gentle laxative effect and their ability to promote healthy bile flow.
Black Walnut is said to tone and heal inflamed intestinal tissue, as well as improve the environment of the digestive tract for more effective assimilation and elimination. It is for this reason that black walnut is unusually considered a treatment for both constipation and diarrhoea.
It is also effective against Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) – a bacteria that is responsible for the majority of ulcers that occur in the stomach.
Black walnut has been used as external applications for a variety of skin complaints including ringworm, jock itch, athlete’s foot, psoriasis, blisters, eczema, scabbing caused by intense itching, varicose ulcers, and even syphilis sores.
Black walnut hulls are a strong natural source of iodine. They are nourishing to the thyroid.
In his blog, master herbalist Dr. Richard Schulze mentions using black walnut tincture with his students during the Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown. Dr. Schulze says he suggested that patients be wiped down with iodine tincture or black walnut tincture. The iodine in the two tinctures was absorbed into the body through the skin. Testing later showed that the patients who had been “painted” with black walnut or iodine tinctures were just as protected against radiation exposure as the patients who took potassium iodide (SSKI). Simply wiping a small amount of black walnut or iodine tincture on a knee cap or the palm of one hand was enough to meet the body’s need for iodine, according to Dr. Schulze. Walnut hulls are also a good source of vitamin C, which helps your body release toxins.
Having a good source of iodine available is never a bad thing.
Now less proceed with learning how to make our own black walnut tincture that can be used as a antiparasitic, gentle laxative, digestive aid, and all of the above!
Black Walnut Tincture
• Green Black Walnuts (I usually harvest them directly from the tree. You don’t want to use the brown ones that have already fallen to the ground and could possibly have insect damage)
• 80 proof alcohol (40% vodka is recommended)
• Large Mason jar
• Sharp knife
The first thing you want to do is rinse off your walnuts, removing and dirt and debris.
Next, use your sharp knife to cut the green walnuts in half, hull included. Juglone the chemical in black walnuts can irritate and stain the skin, so it’s recommended to wear gloves for this part.
Add your chopped walnuts to the jar, filling about 1/2 way. Next, fill your jar to the top with vodka. Close jar, shake and sit on the counter or windowsill for 4-6 weeks.
Afterwards, strain out the walnuts using a cheesecloth and strainer. Place the liquid in clean glass jars or amber bottles and store in a cool dark cabinet.
How To Take
Black walnut is a powerful medicine and not meant to be taken daily. The recommended dose is 10-20 drops, up to three times a day for 1-2 weeks, maximum.
I usually alternate taking black walnut tincture every month for a week. This is a great maintenance regimen.
You can even add other antiparasitic plants such as pumpkin seeds and garlic to your tincture for extra cleansing properties.
Do I Need A Binder?
The answer to this is very simple, no. Binders are simply the latest must-have supplements you learn about from the latest guru. You have to remember, humans have been using detoxifying and antiparasitic plants for thousands of years with success, without the use of a binder.
Not only are binders useless for the purpose of human detox, but they can lead to harm. They have the potential to cause constipation and some of them can bind minerals our bodies need and thus create deficiencies.
Is Black Walnut Safe For Pets?
On one hand, black walnut is toxic to animals, but like us, in small doses it can be used as a medicine.
It is recommended to start with a low dosage of 1 or 2 drops per 10 pounds weight and increase by 1 or 2 drops per day until parasites are expelled.
This applies for cats and dogs.
Black walnut should never be taken longer than 2 weeks. Black walnut contains tannins, and taking too much tannin can cause stomach upset and kidney and liver damage. Only use as directed or under a trained herbalist or holistic practitioner.
If you are pregnant or nursing do not use. People taking medication should speak to their doctor first, as black walnut can interact with certain medications. View our disclaimer here
Black walnut is an amazing tree that has been providing medicine for centuries. It’s powerful medicinal value should be respected as such and used wisely.
Clinical Herbalist, Holistic Health Practitioner (HHP), Active Forager, Wild Food Chef and Mother of three. She has spent the last 18 years practicing herbalism and natural health, and spends most of her time educating others on the amazing potential the natural world can offer.