Latin Name: Juglans regia
Pharmacopeial Name: Juglandis folium
Other Names: English walnut leaf, European walnut leaf, Persian walnut leaf
Walnut is a deciduous tree native in southeastern Europe, Asia Minor to the Indian sub-continent, and China (HPUS, 1992; Uphof, 1968; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994), now cultivated in temperate zones throughout Europe, North Africa, East Asia, and North America (Wichtl, 1996). In Asia, is it found in the Himalayas and cultivated in the Khasia hills (Karnick, 1994), Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Tibet (Nadkarni, 1976). In Europe, the material of commerce is obtained mainly from eastern and southeastern European countries (Wichtl, 1996). Its genus name, Juglans, is derived from the Latin lupiter (Jupiter) and glans (acorn) meaning 'Jupiter's nuts' (Bown, 1995; Grieve, 1979).
Walnut leaf has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder (ca. 2379 C.E.) reported the cultivation of walnut in Italy by the first century B.C.E., from trees originally transported from countries further east (Bown, 1995; Grieve, 1979). Seventeenth century English herbalist Nicholas Culpepper reported the use of walnut leaf in combination with onion, salt, and honey, to draw out the venom of dogs, snakes, and spiders. Within the next few hundred years, however, the use of walnut leaves was eventually targeted to skin disorders. Extracts and infusions were found to be helpful in the treatment of scrofulous diseases, herpes, eczema, and slow healing wounds (Grieve, 1979). Nineteenth century French physician Professor Negrier reported a walnut leaf strong infusion and/or syrup to be effective in treating scrofula in children. He also reported using a strong decoction of the leaf as a wash, compress, or poultice for treatment of ulcers and sore eyes (Felter and Lloyd, 1983).
In Germany, walnut leaf is listed in the Drug Codex, approved in the Commission E monographs, and the decoction form for external use is official in the Standard License monographs (BAnz, 1998; Braun et al., 1997; DAC, 1986; DAC, 1997; Meyer-Buchtela, 1999; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994). Walnut leaf was official in the German Pharmacopeia, sixth edition (DAB 6, 1951). Today, it is used as a topical remedy for dermal inflammation and excessive perspiration of the hands and feet. It is also a common home remedy for treatment of chronic eczema, scrofula, and inflammation of the lids (Weiss, 1988), applied locally in bath, dressing, and/or rinse forms (Wichtl and Bisset, 1994).
Walnut leaf consists of the dried leaf of Juglans regia L. [Fam. Juglandaceae] and its preparations in effective dosage. The preparation contains tannins.
Chemistry and Pharmacology
Walnut leaf contains approximately 10% tannins of the ellagitannin type; naphthalene derivatives, especially the monoglucosides of juglone (=5-hydroxy-1,4-naphtholquinone) and hydrojuglone; up to over 3% flavonoids (e.g., quercetin and kaempferol derivatives); 0.81.0% ascorbic acid (Bruneton, 1995; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994; Wichtl, 1996), plant acids, including gallic, caffeic, and neo-chlorogenic acids (Wichtl, 1989); and 0.0010.03% volatile oil, mainly germacrene D (Wichtl and Bisset, 1994).
The Commision E reported astringent activity.
The primary constituents of the leaves are ellagitannins, formed from ellagic acid, itself targeted by anticancer research (Trease and Evans, 1989; Harborne and Baxter, 1993), and a naphthalene derivative, juglone. Juglone has demonstrated antiviral activities against HSV-1 virus (Harborne and Baxter, 1993), and is reportedly antifungal due to in vitro inhibition of Candida albicans and Trichophyton rubrum (Heisey and Gorham, 1992). However, isolated juglone may be mutagenic and carcinogenic, and further study of its therapeutic and toxic effects is recommended. Currently the advised application of walnut leaf extends only to external use (De Smet, 1993).
Its astringent activity is attributed to the tannin content. Walnut leaf has local antimycotic or bactericide action as well as insect repellent properties (Meyer-Buchtela, 1999; Roth, 1993). The steam distilled volatile oil fraction has demonstrated antifungal action (Nahrstedt et al., 1981). The isolated principle juglone has shown tumor inhibition (e.g., Ehrlich ascites tumor) effects in mice (Okada et al., 1967).
The Commission E approved the use of walnut leaf for mild, superficial inflammations of the skin and excessive perspiration of the hands and feet.
The German Standard License indicates walnut leaf aqueous decoction to be used topically as a cataplasm or partial bath for the same conditions as approved in the Commission E (Braun et al., 1997). An infusion of equal parts walnut leaf and wild pansy herb (Viola tricolor), for external use, is particularly useful for skin complaints in children (Weiss, 1988). In France, walnut leaf is used topically to treat scalp itching, peeling, and dandruff, sunburn and superficial burns, and as an adjunctive emollient and itch-relieving treatment in skin disorders (Bruneton, 1995). In India, walnut leaf decoction is used externally as a wash for malignant sores and pustules (Nadkarni, 1976).
Use During Pregnancy and Lactation
No restrictions known.
Interactions with Other Drugs
Dosage and Administration
Unless otherwise prescribed: Cut leaf for decoctions and other equivalent galenical preparations for external use.
Decoction: Put 2-3 g dried leaf per 100 ml cold water, bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes: For use in compresses and partial baths (Braun et al., 1997; Commission E; Meyer-Buchtela, 1999).
Note: Occlusive dressings and/or topical application to large areas should be avoided (DAC, 1997; Meyer-Buchtela, 1999).
BAnz. See Bundesanzeiger.
Bown, D. 1995. Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses. New York: DK Publishing, Inc. 145, 298.
Braun, R. et al. 1997. Standardzulassungen f r FertigarzneimittelText and Kommentar. Stuttgart: Deutscher Apotheker Verlag.
Bruneton, J. 1995. Pharmacognosy, Phytochemistry, Medicinal Plants. Paris: Lavoisier Publishing.
Bundesanzeiger (BAnz). 1998. Monographien der Kommission E (Zulassungs- und Aufbereitungskommission am BGA f r den humanmed. Bereich, phytotherapeutische Therapierichtung und Stoffgruppe). Kln: Bundesgesundheitsamt (BGA).
De Smet, P.A. 1993. Legislatory outlook on the safety of herbal remedies. In: De Smet, P.A. (ed.). Adverse Effects of Herbal Drugs, Vol. 2. New York: Springer Verlag.
Deutscher Arzneimittel-Codex (DAC). 1986. Ergnzungsbuch zum Arzneibuch. Stuttgart: Deutscher Apotheker Verlag.
Deutscher Arzneimittel-Codex (DAC). 1997. Ergnzungsbuch zum Arzneibuch. Stuttgart: Deutscher Apotheker Verlag.
Deutsches Arzneibuch, 6th ed. (DAB 6). 1951. Stuttgart: Deutscher Apotheker Verlag.
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Grieve, M. 1979. A Modern Herbal. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.
Harborne, J. and H. Baxter. 1993. Phytochemical Dictionary: A Handbook of Bioactive Compounds from Plants. Washington: Taylor & Francis.
Heisey, R.M. and B.K. Gorham. 1992. Antimicrobial effects of plant extracts on Streptococcus mutans,Candida albicans,Trichophyton rubrum and other micro-organisms. Lett Appl Microbiol 14:136139.
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Nahrstedt, A., U. Vetter, F.J. Hammerschmidt. 1981. Zur kenntnis des wasserdampfdestillates der bltter von Juglans regia [Composition of the steam distillation product from the leaves of Juglans regia]. Planta Med 42(4):313332.
Okada, T.A., E. Roberts, A.F. Brodie. 1967. Mitotic abnormalities produced by juglone in Ehrlich ascites tumor cells. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 126(2):583588.
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Bhargava, U.C. and B.A. Westfall. 1968. Antitumor activity of Juglans nigra (black walnut) extractives. J Pharm Sci 57(10):16741677.
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This material was adapted from The Complete German Commission E MonographsTherapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. M. Blumenthal, W.R. Busse, A. Goldberg, J. Gruenwald, T. Hall, C.W. Riggins, R.S. Rister (eds.) S. Klein and R.S. Rister (trans.). 1998. Austin: American Botanical Council; Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications.
1) The Overview section is new information.
2) Description, Chemistry and Pharmacology, Uses, Contraindications, Side Effects, Interactions with Other Drugs, and Dosage sections have been drawn from the original work. Additional information has been added in some or all of these sections, as noted with references.
3) The dosage for equivalent preparations (tea infusion, fluidextract, and tincture) have been provided based on the following example:
- Unless otherwise prescribed: 2 g per day of [powdered, crushed, cut or whole] [plant part]
- Infusion: 2 g in 150 ml of water
- Fluidextract 1:1 (g/ml): 2 ml
- Tincture 1:5 (g/ml): 10 ml
4) The References and Additional Resources sections are new sections. Additional Resources are not cited in the monograph but are included for research purposes.
This monograph, published by the Commission E in 1994, was modified based on new scientific research. It contains more extensive pharmacological and therapeutic information taken directly from the Commission E.
Excerpt from Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs
Copyright 2000 American Botanical Council
Published by Integrative Medicine Communications
Available from the American Botanical Council.