Winter Wonder Walnuts: A great herb to consider; you can’t eat just 1!


By Lesley Tierra

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.

This nut 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.

They 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.)


He tao ren (Chinese)

Family: Juglandaceae

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

Learn more about our Home Herbalist Course, a beginner and intermediate level training.

Additional walnut resource Here.

By Lesley Tierra

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  1. I have a friend who makes and sells vegan walnut meat. It is amazing! and infinitely variable depending on what spices are used. She makes taco meat, sloppy joe meat and more. She won’t share her precise recipe bc she sells her products in the highly competitive Atlanta market. You can search vegan walnut meat recipes and come up with great ideas. Most recipes include walnuts, mushrooms (essential for taste and texture) and flavorings and use a food processor. I plan to experiment with making this. She uses onion, garlic, and possibly turmeric that I know of. If you are in the Professional Herbalist Course, check out Thomas’ post on turmeric. Let us know your favorite recipes!