In the cold of winter, a great herb to consider is the walnut. It is a rich source of fat that keeps the body warm and as a healthy snack, stifles hunger. But walnuts are more than a food; they have many valuable medicinal uses, too.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), walnuts gently tonify Kidney Yang. Since January is the depth of the Kidney time of year, this is a perfect time to tonify Kidney Yang. Doing so with walnuts treats low back, leg and knee pain and weakness, lessens frequent urination and dissolves stones in the urinary tract, or reduces and softens them so they can quickly be excreted.
Walnut also strengthens and astringes the Lungs for chronic cough and asthma caused by Coldness in the Lungs. It is further a demulcent laxative for chronic constipation, especially in the elderly or that occurs after fevers.
Walnuts are the only nut that don’t congest the Liver, as do all other nuts and nut butters in excess (causing many symptoms such as nausea, irregular or painful menses, PMS, tight neck and shoulders, depression, and other signs of stagnation). This is because they strengthen the Kidneys, which then support Liver function rather than congest it. However, it’s still best to limit intake to a handful a day at most.
Topically, apply walnut paste for dermatitis and other dermatological diseases. Or apply the extract externally for skin parasites, fungus and other skin diseases (the husks are dried and taken internally also for gastrointestinal parasites).
NOTE that walnuts do increase body weight, serum albumin and cholesterol. (However, if you are on a keto diet, I suspect you’d still continue to lose weight while eating walnuts.)
Walnut Seed (Juglans regia)
He tao ren (Chinese)
Also named: Juglandis Semen
Energy and flavors: Warm, sweet
Organs and channels affected: Lung, Kidney, Large Intestine
Chemical constituents: Fatty oil, linolenic acid, triglyceride, protein, calcium phosphorus, iron, carotene, Vitamin B2
Properties and actions: Emollient, mild laxative, tonic, nutrient, antilithic; tonifies Yang, assists Kidneys in grasping Qi
Contraindications: Yin Deficiency with Heat signs, Hot Phlegm
Dosage: 9-15g decoction; 9-30g raw; 30-60 drops tincture (1:5 @60%ABV), TID