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White Walnut

  • Juglans cinerea L.
  • Juglandaceae
  • Walnut family



Common Names

herbsButternut
herbsLemon walnut
herbsOil nut
herbsOil nut bark
herbsWalnut


Parts Usually Used

Inner bark, nuts, nut oil, and leaves


Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Butternut is a native North American tree that grows to a height of 50-75 feet. Its branches spread wide from the trunk and are covered with smooth, gray bark. The leaves are alternate, large, and pinnate, with 7-8 pairs of serrate, oblong-lanceolate leaflets. Male and female flowers grow in separate catkins. The rough, deeply furrowed, fruit is an edible, pleasant-tasting, egg-shaped, kernel in a hard, dark nutshell.


Where Found

Found from New Brunswick to Georgia, westwards to the Dakotas and Arkansas. In rich woods.


Medicinal Properties

Anthelmintic, cathartic, fruit is tonic, leaves are alterative, bark is laxative, husks of nuts are vermifuge


Biochemical Information

Juglon (also called nucin or juglandic acid), essential fatty acids


Legends, Myths and Stories

The unripe, half formed fruits of Butternut, make fine pickles, so the old herbalists claim. The sap makes a fine sugar; the leaves, bark and unripe fruit make a dye that is chocolate-brown and was used by the South during the Civil War as a dye for soldiers' uniforms. Often referred to as the butternut uniforms of the Confederacy.


Uses

Butternut has a soothing, tonic laxative particularly suited to chronic constipation. The bark or the unripe nut will expel worms, parasites, and is used for feverish colds and flu. Used for dysentery, diarrhea, and liver congestion. The leaves or green husks of the nuts taken as a tea is used in the treatment of eczema and other skin diseases.

Native Americans used the bark for rheumatism, headaches, toothaches, wounds to stop the bleeding, promote healing. Oil from the nuts is used for tapeworms, fungal infections. Juglone, a component, is antiseptic and herbicidal, some anti-tumor activity has also been reported. The quills or inner bark are potent laxatives that are safe to use during pregnancies.


Formulas or Dosages

Decoction: use 1 tsp. bark with 1 cup water. Take 1 cup a day, cold, a mouthful at a time.

Syrup: boil 1 lb. of bark in water. Evaporate the solution down to 1 pint. Add a lb. of sugar and boil until the desired consistency is reached. Take 1 tbsp. at a time.

Tincture: take 1-15 drops, 3 times a day.

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