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What is Black Walnut?

Black Walnut is a wonderful natural alternative for promoting healthy regularity while nourishing the entire body. A fantastic source of soluble fiber, Black Walnut hulls are safe and gentle. Many people also use these hulls in topical mask formulas for vibrant, healthy-looking skin. Additionally, this herb is used extensively as a vermifuge to expel internal parasites.

Taken internally, Black Walnut helps relieves constipation, and is also useful against fungal & parasitic infections. It may also help eliminate warts, which are troublesome growths caused by viruses. Rubbed on the skin, Black Walnut extract is reputed to be beneficial for eczema, herpes, psoriasis, and skin parasites. External applications have been known to kill ringworm.

It is known that Black Walnut oxygenates the blood to kill parasites. The brown stain found in the green husk contains organic iodine which has antiseptic and healing properties. Black Walnut is also used to balance sugar levels and burn up excessive toxins and fatty materials. Black Walnut has the ability to fight against fungal infections, and acts with an antiseptic property which helps fight bacterial infection.

Black walnut contains two main types of active chemicals. One is juglone, which may have some antibiotic and antifungal effects. Black walnut has been used to relieve both constipation and diarrhea due to a normalizing effect that juglone may exert on intestinal tissue. It is thought to have some effectiveness, as well, for eliminating internal parasites such as tapeworms.

The second type of chemicals in black walnut are astringents known as tannins. Astringents shrink and tighten the top layers of skin or mucous membranes, thereby reducing secretions, relieving irritation, and improving tissue firmness. These effects may contribute to the antidiarrheal properties of oral black walnut preparations as well as giving them some usefulness for treating other gastrointestinal (GI) complaints such as indigestion. All of these uses are based on tradition and case reports; however, none have been verified through clinical studies in humans.

A gargle made from black walnut extract and water may be used to treat mouth sores and sore throat. A similar liquid preparation is sometimes used on the skin to disinfect injuries and treat conditions such as acne and ringworm. Results from animal studies show that black walnut may have anti-infective and anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is a response to irritation, injury, or infection. It usually includes pain, redness, and swelling in the area of the damage and it can occur within body tissues as well as on the surface of the skin. The juice of black walnut hulls has also been used to treat warts.

When should I be careful taking it?
Individuals who have kidney or liver conditions should not take or apply black walnut products because chemicals in them may irritate kidney or liver tissue.

In high doses, black walnut may stimulate strong bowel activity, which may complicate pregnancy or worsen chronic stomach or intestinal conditions. Therefore supplemental black walnut should not be used by pregnant women or individuals with gastrointestinal conditions. Amounts of black walnut that might be part of a normal diet are not thought to present a danger, however.

Very little information is available on how black walnut might affect an infant or a small child. Therefore, its use as a supplement is not recommended while breast-feeding or during early childhood.

What side effects should I watch for?

Major Side Effects:
In horses, contact with black walnut can cause a condition call laminitis, which may involve breathing problems, lameness, and swelling of the hooves. Laminitis may be severe enough to require an afflicted horse to be destroyed. No cases of similar adverse events have been reported in humans or other animals.

Although no reports of major human side effects from black walnut are reported in the literature, black walnut contains relatively high levels of chemicals known as tannins. Occasionally, other oral preparations with high tannin content have been associated with kidney and liver damage.

Additionally, one observational study found that individuals who regularly used large amounts of an oral tannin-containing product for many years had a higher likelihood of developing tongue cancer and lip cancer than expected. Cancers of the nose and esophagus may also be more likely in individuals who use large amounts of oral products that contain tannins for long periods of time.

Less Severe Side Effects:
Although no reliable reports of gastrointestinal (GI) problems have been attributed to taking or applying black walnut, other high-tannin products have caused GI irritation in some individuals who took them by mouth.

When applied topically, tannins dehydrate the top layers of the skin, eventually forming a thickened layer of dense tissue similar to a callus.

Contact allergies to all parts of the black walnut tree have been reported occasionally. Such allergies may result in itchy rashes. Some individuals may also be allergic to black walnut tree pollen.

What interactions should I watch for?
No interactions between black walnut supplements and drugs or other herbals have been reported. However, the tannin content of oral black walnut products may interfere with the way the body uses:

Prescription drugs such as theophylline, codeine, and oral ephedrine.

Non-prescription drugs such as pseudoephedrine.
Minerals such as iron.
If prescription drugs, non-prescription drugs, or dietary supplements and oral black walnut supplements are taken together, as much time as possible (at least 2 hours) should be allowed between taking them.

Some interactions between herbal products and medications can be more severe than others. The best way for you to avoid harmful interactions is to tell your doctor and/or pharmacist what medications you are currently taking, including any over-the-counter products, vitamins, and herbals. For specific information on how black walnut interacts with drugs, other herbals, and foods and the severity of those interactions.

Should I take it?
Black walnut trees are found in the eastern and central parts of North America. The easily-recognized trees have dark, deeply-ridged bark and foot-long stems of small pointed leaflets that turn bright yellow in the fall. All parts of the usually long-lived tree have a characteristic smell. The deeply wrinkled nuts of the tree are covered in a smooth thick fruit that surrounds a hard, dark, deeply wrinkled hull that may be difficult to break.

Native people and early settlers made good use of nearly all parts of the tree--using the nuts for food, the nut hulls and bark to make dye, the leaves and inner bark for teas, the dried nut hulls for fuel, and the decorative wood for furniture and lumber. In the past, juice made from black walnut hulls has been used as a cosmetic to darken skin. Black walnut still provides a dark coloring agent for hair dyes and long-lasting wood used for rifle stocks.

In addition, black walnut has a long history of medical and food uses. Once a treatment for diphtheria and syphilis, black walnut is currently promoted mostly for its astringent properties. For use in medicine, the hulls of black walnuts and/or the inner bark of the black walnut tree are ground into powder and then made into capsules or liquid extract. Inner bark is the softer, spongy, lighter colored layer between the dark brown "outer bark and the wood of the tree.

The nuts, which are 15% to 20% protein, continue to be used as an ingredient or a flavoring in a number of products including bakery, candy, and ice cream. Although they are high in calories, black walnuts contain essential fatty acids that are known to protect against heart disease. Humans need essential fatty acids to regulate activities that include heart function, insulin utilization, and mood balance. The human body cannot produce essential fatty acids; however, so they must be taken in the diet or as supplements.

Dosage and Administration:
Capsules and tablets containing powdered black walnut are available commercially--usually in strengths of 500 mg (0.5 gram) and 1000 mg (one gram). Alternately, black walnut extract may be taken orally. An extract is a concentrated liquid preparation usually made by soaking solid particles of a substance in a liquid such as alcohol and then straining out the solids. Specified amounts of black walnut extract can be mixed with water to drink. Generally, oral doses are taken three times a day, but oral use for longer than 6 weeks is not recommended, due to black walnut's tannin content.

For application to the skin, black walnut extract must be diluted for use as a skin wash or poultice. A poultice is a soft cloth that has been soaked in a liquid, possibly heated, and then applied to an irritated or injured area of skin. Black walnut may also be available in ointments or salves--usually in combination with other herbals, such as burdock, calendula, echinacea, tea tree oil, and yellow dock. The usual recommendation for topical use is twice a day.

When taken by mouth, black walnut may have some effectiveness for relieving gastrointestinal ailments. Chemicals in black walnut products may shrink skin and mucosal tissue, making them useful for mouth sores and skin conditions such as ringworm or minor wounds.

Amounts of black walnut that would be eaten in foods are not thought to be high enough to present a problem for most individuals. However, individuals with intestinal, liver, or stomach conditions should not use supplemental black walnut due to its possible irritating effects. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding and small children should also avoid using black walnut supplements.

Side Effects:
Liver or kidney damage and some types of oral cancer may be more likely to affect individuals who take large doses of products, like black walnut, that have a high tannin content for long periods. Potentially, tannin-containing products can cause stomach upset when taken by mouth. They may also irritate damaged skin when applied topically.

Although no specific interactions have been identified with black walnut the tannins in it may block the absorption of prescription drugs, non-prescription drugs, other supplements, or foods if they are taken at the same time.

Nature's Answer's Black Walnut

Gaia Herb's Black Walnut

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