You see, we have a big yard- when we moved, we actually prioritized having a large yard and being out of town over the house itself, because we wanted several things- I wanted to be able to have a large garden and keep some livestock, and Scott wanted freedom from often constricting HOA and city regulations (in other words, he wants the freedom to have cars up on blocks in his yard- not that we ever would because I would never allow it, but the freedom is nice).
And in this big yard there are 4 mature black walnut trees and several younger ones. Anyone who has ever seen black walnut trees, especially in the late summer and early fall, knows that they can potentially be a nuisance.
However, if you can recall my attitude towards weeds this summer, you may remember that I don't believe in nuisances. Everything has a purpose. And knowing what I know about herbal remedies, I knew that my first approach should be too see if there are any medicinal uses for the bring green nuts that littered my yard and brought every squirrel for miles into my yard.
I discovered that black walnut hulls and leaves are the most frequently used in herbal medicine, but most of the books I have didn't speak of the hulls and only briefly mentioned the leaves. I haven't read much about the leaves, although I do know they have many of the same medicinal qualities as the hull, only to a lesser extent. This is purely a guess, but I believe the reason the hulls aren't covered much is because they are best used fresh, and while black walnut trees are fairly widespread throughout the country, most herbalists prefer to use herbs that can be dried, stored, and transported easily. Not all of us have black walnut trees growing in our front yard. But I do.
Because they are not available all year, I made several batches of black walnut hull tincture, salve, and oil while the nuts were ripe.
What is the big deal about black walnut hull? Well, it is high in a few different beneficial compounds:
- Tannins- tannins are a type of polyphenol, usually produced by plants specifically to help defend them against insect attacks. They are thought to help the body ward off infections and chronic conditions like ulcers.
- Juglone- ever hear not to plant other plants near a walnut tree? That is because their roots secrete juglone, which is toxic to other plants. This is yet another plant defense mechanism that helps it combat competition when growing in the wild. Juglone is present not only in the roots but also in the hulls of the nuts and in the leaves. The primary benefit of juglone for us? It is a strong antifungal and antiparasitic. Soon after making my first batch my sister came down with a case of ringworm, so I gave her a jar. It cleared the ringworm up in days. Black walnut tincture can also be used to combat internal parasites.
- Iodine- the hulls are also a great source of natural iodine, which is part of the reason they are a nuisance (and why another lovely use of walnut hulls is to dye fabric). They stain everything they touch. As we know, iodine is essential to healthy body function and iodine deficiency can cause many issues including under-active thyroid, depression, fatigue, goiters, and mental impairment. That is why salt has nitrogen added, to make sure the general population gets enough. But I don't use iodized salt, and the form used to iodize salt isn't as easy for the body to assimilate as natural iodine. So I have to supplement. I usually use kelp powder, but I'm going to experiment with black walnut hull. The problem with relying on black walnut tincture for iodine is that the amount is reliant on the amount of iodine in the soil, which will vary widely from state to state. Without expensive testing, there is no way for me to know if the black walnut hull tincture I make has enough iodine to make a difference.
This post has been shared at Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday.