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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

a.k.a. Filnut, Kiksy Thomas Nut, Lemon Walnut, Oil Nut, Oil Nut Bark, White Walnut
(Juglans cinerea)

Not taken during PREGNANCY, or when diarrhea is present!

CONTAINS: Juglan (aka nucin or juglandic acid), juglone (anthraquinone), tannin and essential oil. NUTS are high in protein and low in carbohydrates.

A North American deciduous tree to 60 feet which is found in rich woods and along rivers and streams on well-drained soil, although it has been found in dry, rocky soil as well. Its range is from southern Canada to the mountains of Georgia and west. Hardy to zone 3, its trunk can get up to 4 feet in diameter with bark a light gray and divided into broad ridges being somewhat furrowed; branches are wide and spreading with smooth gray bark. Leaves are large, pinnate, opposite, compound and with 11 to 17 leaflets per stem. Flowers are both male and female, appearing on the same tree as separate types of catkins. Fruit is more elliptical than other members of the walnut family, and covered by a sticky, hairy green rind with 2 to 4 obscure ridges; the shell of the fruit is hard and furrowed. These trees (including other members of the walnut family) excrete a substance called Juglone which is toxic to a large number of other plants which cannot grow where it is present; Bluegrass, Fescue, and Red Clover seem not to be affected.

The inner bark was official in the USP from 1820 to 1905 and the NF from 1916 to 1936. The scientific name is taken from the Roman and means 'royal nut of Jupiter'.

HARVEST: Bark of root in autumn. Inner bark in May or June. (A note of Folklore curiosity is the tale of a native of the Pennsylvania frontier by the name of Joseph Doddridge who told of peeling the bark upward to use as an emetic, and downward to use as a purge). The EXTRACT was prepared in spring.
PART USED: Dried, powdered inner bark, dried, powdered root bark (root bark is stronger in action and usually preferred), twigs and the inner part of branches have also been used. Leaves. Nuts.
SOLVENT: Water, alcohol.


Astringent, bitter, cold, cholagogue, nervine, laxative, purgative, promotes bile flow; was also used by Native Americans as a digestive remedy; affects colon. Also the tea made from the inner bark served as a tonic. Specifically, the inner bark is laxative, purgative, alterative, astringent, and cleansing; the fruit is tonic; the leaves alterative. The green husk, shell, and peel have been said to be sudorific.
Its primary use has been as a laxative with a reputation for being gentle, safe and effective, for constipation associated with dyspepsia, liver disfunction and skin eruptions associated with both. Either a decoction or tincture of the inner bark was used.
An infusion of the leaves or green husks has been used for eczema and other skin problems. DRIED GREEN LEAVES AND HUSKS ARE EXTREMELY BITTER. The diluted tincture has also been used externally for chronic skin diseases.
In Chinese medicine, the fruit is considered a mild yang tonic.
Has been used to clear long standing phlegm or mucous.
Has been used when eliminating coffee from the diet. Coffee is laxative and withdrawal can cause constipation. Butternut has been used as a gentle laxative to overcome this effect.
In Appalachia, the nut oil has been used for expelling tapeworm. Also the unripe nut for expelling intestinal worms. Has been combined with Bitter Root (Apocynum) for expelling pin and thread worms. The nut oil has also been applied externally for sores.
Has been used by Native Americans to treat rheumatism, headache, toothache, and also made into a strong tea in compress form as a styptic. The Menomini used the syrup and sugar from the sap as an Indian physic; butternut molasses made in West Virginia served the same purpose. The Meskwakis boiled twig bark to use as a cathartic. The Potawatomis also employed Butternut as a physic and an infusion of the inner bark as a tonic. Some tribes employed the lint-like scrapings of the outer bark to dress snakebite.
The powdered leaves have been used to rub on skin to soothe sore muscles and bruises.
The crushed green hulls have been used against fungal infections like ringworm.

SMALL DOSES ONLY over a period of time - up to a few months! Since it takes 4 to 8 hours to work as a laxative, it is usually taken before going to bed.
!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
INFUSION = 1 tsp powdered inner bark or leaves in 1 cup of water; taken cold a mouthful at a time.
TINCTURE = 5 drops, 3 times daily
SYRUP = Boil 1 pound of inner bark in water, then evaporate down to 1 pint; add 1 pound of sugar and boil until the desired consistency; 1 tbsp taken at a time. Syrup can also be made by combining 1/2 fl oz of pharmaceutical EXTRACT with 4 oz of sugar and 10 oz of boiling water; 1 tsp taken twice daily; used for hemorrhoids and rectal hemorrhage.
PILLS = The inner bark boiled down to a thick, soft extract, then made into small pills by mixing with almost any kind of powder such as flour; 3 or 4 were taken as a purgative; 1 or 2 were taken daily as a laxative.

Tincture of the root bark, or triturations of the resinoid juglandin, is used for: acne, angina pectoris, pain in the chest, coryza, ecthyma, eczema, erysipelas, erythema nodosum, headache, herpes, hydrothorax, impetigo figurata, lichen, migraine, pemphigus, ringworm, pain the the scapula, scarlatina, loss of vision.

Bark was once used for malignant fever in horses and to remove white spots on the skin.
In the past was used to cure 'nurrain' of cattle and 'yellow water' of horses.

The nuts are eaten fresh and stored for winter use, a practice known to the Native Americans of Minnesota, Wisconsin and New York.
Nuts have been pickled when green.
Nuts are allowed to lay on the ground through several frosts to sweeten and said to be easiest to crack open if held perpendicular on a hard surface, then struck with a hammer.
The sap was used by the Menomini in the same manner as maple sap to make a sweetening syrup.

Leaves and husks of Butternut, along with other related Walnuts, were the source of hair dyes up until the early 20th century.
Rind and husks produce a brown dye.
A deep black was produced by boiling the bark with blue clay.
The inner bark is a possible source of purple.

A strong infusion poured onto the soil will drive away worms and insects.

The syrup was obtained from the sap by early American settlers and Native Americans to use as a tonic and sweetener.
The crushed green hulls have been used by fishermen to stun fish.
The wood has been used in cabinet and furniture making.

©2005 by Ernestina Parziale, CH