The squirrels love black walnuts, now I know why we should as well! This tasty nut contains juglone, plumbagin and more – how do these nutrients aid our health? The benefits of black walnuts can be obtained through the actual nut or through essential oils. There are precautionary with black walnuts wonderful health benefits, so read through to the end. Thanks to Dr. Axe.com for compiling the research; numbered resources can be viewed in the original article.
Black walnut leaves, bark and fruits contain a constituent called juglone, aka 5-hydroxy-1,4-naphthalenedione, an active constituent known to be effective against worms, tobacco mosaic virus and H-pylori. Plumbagin, or 5-hydroxy-2-methyl-1,4-naphthoquinone, is a quinoid constituent that’s also found in Juglans nigra. Plumbagin has been known for its potential health benefit in being neuroprotective. It inhibits ectopic growth of human breast cancer, melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer cells. It’s been reported the plumbagin induces apoptosis, inhibiting growth of prostate and pancreatic cancer cells. (9)
Plumbagin was evaluated for antimalarial activity against Anopheles stephensi Liston, a mosquito vector of malaria. After the three-hour exposure period, larval mortality was observed against A. stephensi. The results, published in Parasitology Research, show that plumbagin may be considered as a new potential source of natural larvicide for the control of malaria. (10)
Black walnut also contains higher amounts of antioxidants, polyphenols and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as gamma-tocopherol. These components have been correlated with the prevention and/or treatment of several types of diseases, including neurodegenerative conditions, cancer and diabetes. Other nutrients that are also present in the black walnut include folate, melatonin and phytosterols. Based upon its phytochemical and phytonutrient composition, the black walnut is a potentially potent and a beneficial addition in diets in order to promote overall health.
Black Walnut Benefits
Expels Parasites –One of the key active components of the black walnut hull is juglone. Juglone exerts its effect by inhibiting certain enzymes needed for metabolic function. It’s highly toxic to many insect herbivores — it’s often used by organic gardeners as a natural pesticide — and researchers have observed that black walnut can expel parasitic worms from the body. According to the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, black walnut is effective against ringworm, tapeworm, pin or thread worm, and other parasites of the intestine. (2) This is why black walnut makes a great addition to any parasite cleanse.
Promotes Healthy Skin – The tannins in black walnut have an astringent effect, which is used to tighten the epidermis, mucous membranes and relieve irritation. Dermatological applications associated with black walnut include viral warts, eczema, acne, psoriasis, xerosis, tinea pedis and poison ivy. (3)
Improves Cardiovascular Health – Black walnuts are an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), with 100 grams of the walnuts containing 3.3 grams of ALA. (4) Walnuts are an excellent staple of the Mediterranean diet, a diet thought to be healthy in reducing mortality rates from coronary artery disease, which is low in Mediterranean populations. Recent epidemiological studies suggest that frequent consumption of walnuts may have protective effects against coronary heart disease because of the promising effects on blood lipid profiles. In clinical studies, diets supplemented with walnuts decreased serum concentration of low-density lipoprotein and cholesterol. Other potential protective constituents include high amounts of magnesium, vitamin E, protein, dietary fiber, potassium and alpha-linolenic acid. (5)
Holds Antifungal and Antimicrobial Activity – The juice from unripe black walnut hulls has been used in folk medicine for many years as a treatment for topical, localized dermatophytic fungal infections, such as ringworm. These fungal infections usually involve the keratinized tissues, such as hair, skin and nails. Such infections may be chronic and resistant to treatment but rarely affect the general health of the patient. It’s been suggested that the biological activity of the black walnut hull is due to the naphthoquinone, juglone (5-hydroxy-1,4 naphthoquinone). The antifungal activity of juglone has also been compared to other known antifungal agents, such as griseofulvin, clotrimazole, tolnaftate, triacetin, zinc undecylenate, selenium sulfide, liriodenine and liriodenine methionine. In a study, it was determined that juglone exhibited moderate antifungal activity similar to zinc undecylenate and selenium sulfide, which are commercially available antifungal agents (6).
Helps Protect Against Cancer – Quinones have been associated with anticancer activity. Juglone is a quinone found in the leaves, roots and bark of black walnut trees. The exocarp of immature green fruit, bark and branches has been used in China to treat liver, lung and gastric cancer. Juglone blocks potassium channels, promotes the generation of hydrogen peroxide and inhibits transcription in cancer cells. In a recent study, it was shown to promote cell death in human colorectal cells, and given black walnuts juglone content, it could make the black walnut a potential cancer-fighting food. (8)
Possible Black Walnut Side Effects and Precautions
- When it comes to the topical application for skin conditions, potential side effects of black walnut are few. Due to the astringent action of the tannins, black walnut causes the top layer of the skin to become dehydrated and forms a thick layer of dense tissue similar to a callus.
- For patients with nut allergies, an allergic reaction to black walnut may result in rashes, itchy and swollen skin, hives, chest pain, or problems with breathing.
- When taking any medications, herbs or supplements, it’s recommended to wait at least two hours after the consumption of black walnut because it may bind to other medications when taken at the same time. Caution is advised in patients who take blood pressure measure medication because black walnut may alter the drug.
- Black walnut may have additive effects with antimicrobials and laxatives. Caution is also advised when taking herbs, medications or supplements used for nausea, gastrointestinal issues, inflammation, cancer, along with herbs, supplements and medication that harm the kidney or liver or herbs and supplements that contain tannins.
- Black walnut is not recommended for pregnant or breast-feeding women or for extended periods of time.
- The fresh green husk can cause irritation and blistering when applied to the skin in excessive quantities. Taken internally in large doses, it’s a sedative to the circulation system and heart. (18)
Teaming up with a Natural Health Doctor will offer you their expertise of the synergistic effect of all the beautiful health benefits that Nature offers us. As always, research for yourself as well – as ultimately we are each responsible for our health.
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