1.1 What is a common walnut?
The common walnut (botanical name: Juglans regia, also known as the Persian walnut or English walnut; Chinese Pinyin: Hu Tao, Simplified Chinese: 胡桃), is a species of large, flowering, fruit bearing, deciduous tree in genus Juglans in the walnut family, Juglandaceae. The female flowers are in light green while the male flowers are in light yellow color. The large edible seed is enclosed in a nearly spherical thick, solid green husk. The plant can grow up to 35 m tall. Native to mountain ranges of Central Asia and extensively cultivated all over the world, habitats of the common walnut include hillside, hill lands, flatlands and orchards (usually from between 400 to 1,800 meters in elevation). Characteristics of common walnut include tolerance for cold and favorable micronutrient contents (high Biotin, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B1 content in particular).
Other simplified Chinese names for common walnut include: 核桃, 羌桃.
1.2 How does common walnut taste?
Good fresh common walnuts have a juicy, dense, crisp, buttery texture with a flavor that is rich, nutty and sweet.
1.3 How do I tell if my walnuts are ripe?
Ripe common walnuts have split husks, also tissue between the kernel and the shell will turn brown when the fruits are ready. Sampling a few walnuts for ripeness checking is recommended.
1.4 How many common walnuts should I eat per day?
Walnuts contains carbohydrates, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids which are good for our health and help to protect us from many possible diseases and health problems such as cellular damage, heart disease, various cancers and premature aging. The suggested healthy serving size is 1-2 walnuts per day.
1.5 How is common walnut used in traditional Chinese medicine?
The seeds of common walnut are considered to have sweet, neutral, warm and nontoxic properties and to be associated with the kidney, lung and large intestine meridians. It is used as kidney tonic (promotes vitality and sexual energy), lung tonic, antiasthmatic and aperitive in traditional Chinese medicine (CTM) and widely adopted in treating different diseases and health problems, such as amenorrhea (abnormal absence of menstruation) and back pains due to the kidney deficiency.
2. Uses, Health Benefits of Common Walnut & Medical Formulas
2.1 Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat. Because omega-3 fatty acids cannot be produced by the body (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, n.d.), they have to be obtained from dietary sources. More importantly, studies found out that western diets contain excessive levels of omega-6 PUFAs but very low levels of omega-3 PUFAs, leading to an unhealthy omega-6/omega-3 ratio of 20:1, instead of 1:1 that was during evolution in humans (Simopoulos 2001). There are three main kind of omega-3 fatty acids which are beneficial for our human body, alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Common walnut are an excellent food source of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) as 0.25 cup (30.0 g) of dried walnuts provide 2.72 g ALA, equivalent to 113% of DRI (Dietary Reference Intakes) of the nutrient.
2.2 Biotin And Hair Loss Prevention
Common walnuts contain rich biotin (also known as Vitamin H) which is part of the group of B vitamins. Biotin is a coenzyme for carboxylase enzymes that assist various metabolic reactions involved in fatty acid synthesis, branched-chain amino acid catabolism, and gluconeogenesis critical for maintenance of healthy skin and hair. Studies show that biotin deficiency was found in 38% of women complaining of hair loss (Ralph 2016). Therefore, biotin supplements may possibly improve the health of hair, minimize hair loss.
2.3 Bone Health
Common walnuts are wonderful source of some important minerals including Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Phosphorus, Selenium and Zinc. Among these minerals, manganese is a trace mineral but it is important to life. Our body contains only approximately 15 to 20 milligrams of manganese, but most of the chemical is found in bones. When a manganese deficiency occurs, weak bones (osteoporosis), anemia and chronic fatigue may happen. Therefore, eating walnuts may help to ensure bone growth in children and also prevent bone loss and maintain bone health in the elderly.
[CTM Formula] A decoction of phragmites australis stem, walnut kernel, coix seed and winter melon seeds is taken to heal lung-heat related coughing.
2.5 Reducing Inflammation, Swelling And Relieving Pain
[CTM Formula] Ointment made with safflower, walnut kernel, mastic and myrrh is applied externally to treat injuries from falls, fractures, contusions and strains.
2.6 Skin Health
[CTM Formula] Pills made with salvia chinensis root, salvia miltiorrhiza root, ginseng, sophora root, adenophora root and walnut kernel can be taken with tea to relieve whelk on face.
2.7 Fatigue With Excessive Sweating
[CTM Formula] Psoralea corylifolia seeds (fried), Semen Cuscutae (parboiled with wine), walnut kernels, mastic, myrrh, aquilaria sinensis (incense tree) and honey dare made into pills for oral taking to treat fatigue with excessive sweating.
2.8 Gynecological Diseases and Disorders
[CTM Formula] Medicated wine with artemisia keiskeana seeds and walnut is taken orally to treat irregular menstruation.
3. Contraindication, Side-effects & Cautions
Administration with caution for people experiencing diarrhea.
The Ben Cao Medical Book (also known as Compendium of Materia Medica or Ben Cao Gang Mu; Chinese: 本草纲目) is the most famous and comprehensive medical book ever written in the history of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Compiled and written by Li Shi-zhen (1518~1593), a medical expert of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) over 27 years.
The Ben Cao Medical Book records and describes all the plants, animals, minerals, and other objects that were believed to have medicinal properties in TCM. The book reflects the pharmaceutical achievements and developments of East Asia before the 16th century. On the basis of his predecessors’ achievements in the pharmacological studies, Li contributed further by supplementing and rectifying many past mistakes and misconception in relate to nature of many medicinal substances and causes of various illnesses. Charles Darwin, originator of the biological theory of evolution, regards the book as the “ancient Chinese encyclopedia”.
Disclaimer: The Ben Cao Medical Book is translated by ChinaAbout.net. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of CTM knowledge and information from the research and experience from the author Li Shi-zhen. Kindly be alert that the CTM knowledge and ancient formulas given above are likely NOT medically proven and may contain misconceptions.
List of reference
Ralph, M. T. 2016 Serum Biotin Levels in Women Complaining of Hair Loss Int J Trichology. 2016 Apr-Jun; 8(2): 73–77.
Simopoulos, A.P. Evolutionary aspects of diet and essential fatty acids. In Fatty Acids and Lipids—New
Findings; Hamazaki, T., Okuyama, H., Eds.; Karger: Basel, Switzerland, 2001; Volume 88, pp. 18–27.