This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
(See also Nuts).
The Juglans regia, royal nut of Jupiter (see also page 503), and known to us as Walnut, is so named from the word Wal, as Teutonic for "stranger." The tree was a native of Asia Minor, but is grown freely in England. "As for the timber," said Fuller, "it may be termed the English Shittim wood." The London Society of Apothecaries has directed that the unripe fruit of the Walnut shall be used pharmaceutically on account of its worm-expelling virtues: on the adoption of which ordinance, for certain, in the immortal words of Mrs. Gamp, "Lambs would not forgive, nor worms forget." It is remarkable that no insects will prey on the leaves of this tree, which yield a brown dye, supposed to contain iodine, such being used by gipsies for staining their skin. Nucin, or juglon, is the active chemical principle of the several parts of the tree, and its fruit. M. Negrier, and others, have treated scrofulous children very successfully with infusion of fresh leaves from Walnut trees in England. Each patient took two or three cupfuls of this infusion, sweetened with honey, daily, also some of the expressed leaf juice thickened by evaporation to the consistence of an extract, and made into small pills.
Sores (of glands,) ulcers, swelling and caries of bones, and strumously inflamed eyes, were all washed with a strong decoction of the leaves, and then kept covered with lint wetted in the infusion. This treatment was chiefly pursued in the spring. After two months, half the number of children were cured, and after six months all were perfectly well. About four grains of the extract were contained in each pill, two to four pills being given every day. The decoction for outward use is to be made by boiling a handful of the fresh bruised leaves for fifteen minutes in a quart of water, and straining this when cool. The whole fruit, when young and unripe, makes a wholesome, tender, anti-scorbutic pickle, which is slightly laxative. "The bagman's uncle" (see Pickwick) "was once pitched out of his gig, and knocked head first against a milestone. There he lay, stunned, and so cut about the face with some gravel that his own mother wouldn't have known him. After he was picked up, and had been bled, he jumped up in bed, and demanded a mutton chop, and a pickled walnut, instantly.
Some physicians are in favour at present of giving walnuts - a dozen a day at least - to gouty patients, and for chronic rheumatism; the nuts have to be well masticated. It is found that admirable results are produced, swellings go down, and pain decreases. Preserved Walnuts serve for obviating constipation, one of these being sufficiently laxative for a child. Allow half a pound of sugar to each score of green Walnuts. Pierce the nuts with a needle, and put them into a stone jar, with the sugar. Stand the jar in a deep saucepan of boiling water, and allow the contents to continue boiling steadily for three hours, taking care that none of the water gets into the jar; the sugar being dissolved should cover the walnuts. When done tie them down, and in six months the preserve will be ready for use. Walnut leaves are of notable benefit for helping to cure secondary sores, even when otherwise obstinate; these sores should be coated with sugar saturated with a strong decoction of the bruised fresh leaves, and must be well cleansed between the times of thus dressing them.
Walnut Catsup embodies the medicinal virtues of the unripe nuts, and will help their curative purposes, if used as a condiment at table. To make this, the unripe nuts, before their shells harden, are beaten to a pulp, and the juice is then separated by straining; salt, vinegar and spices are added, and the whole is gently boiled.' The leaves of the American Black Walnut tree, which grows naturally in Virginia, are of the highest curative value for treating scrofulous sores, and eruptions on the skin. Chronic indolent ulcers have been healed by them after every other tried application had failed. An ounce of the fresh leaves (or rather less of the dried leaves) should be infused in twelve ounces of boiling water, to stand for six hours, and then to be strained off. A small wineglassful of the infusion to be taken three times a day, and the sore places to be dressed with linen soaked in another such infusion, but made of double strength. Or, an extract may be made from a strong decoction of the leaves, slowly reduced to a proper thick consistence, four grains thereof rolled into a small bolus each night and morning.
The Virginian Walnuts are twice as large as those grown in England, being more rank and oily, with a thick, hard, adherent shell, so that "they come not clear of the husk as the Walnut in France doth".
In Flanders, against ague, the sick person catches a large black spider, and imprisons it between the two halves of a Walnut-shell, then wearing it round the neck.