Butternut (Juglans Cinerea) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects

Butternut (Juglans Cinerea) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects


Butternut (Juglans Cinerea) Overview


Butternut (Juglans Cinerea) other names: Butternussbaum, Douberre, Juglans cinerea, Lemon Walnut, Nogal Blanco Americano, Nogal Ceniciento, Noyer √† Beurre, Noyer de Beurre, Noyer Blanc, Noyer Cendr√©, Oil Nut, White Walnut.

Butternuts are deciduous trees (shedding their leaves in fall) and grow up to a height of 20 meters, but seldom found growing to 30 meters. The stem or trunk of butternut is anything between 40 cm and 80 cm in diameter and has a pale grey bark. The leaves of butternuts are feather-like growing to a length of anything between 40 cm and 70 cm. Each leaflet is about 5 cm to 10 cm in length and about 3 cm to 5 cm in width. The entire leaf of butternut is downy-pubescent and its color is slightly brighter as well as yellowish green compared to the leaves of several other trees.

Butternut (Juglans Cinerea) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Butternut (Juglans Cinerea) fruit


The male flowers of butternut are rather unremarkable yellowish-green catkins which emerge during spring, simultaneously when the new fresh leaves come out, while the female flowers bear pale pink hued stigma. As the name of the tree suggests, its fruit is basically a nut, which grows in clumps of anything between two to six at the same time. The shape of these nuts vary from ovoid to oblong and are about 3 cm to 4 cm across, encircled by a greenish husk before they become mature during the middle of autumn. The butternut trees have a very rapid growth, something which is considered to be somewhat short-lived for any tree. Butternut trees have been rarely seen to live for a period of more than 75 years.

Butternut trees are in bloom during the period between April and June. However, this is also subject to the place where the trees are grown. This species is monoecious (having separate male and female flowers) in nature. While the male flowers of butternut are thin catkins developing from the auxiliary buds, the female flowers are small terminal spikes that grow on the shoots developed in the present year. In fact, the male and female flowers of butternuts usually do not mature at the same time around on any particular tree. The seeds of butternut become ripe sometime between October and November.

While the butternut trees are self-fertile, their monoecious flowers (each flower having a separate sex, but male and female flowers found on the same tree) are generally pollinated by the wind.

The scientific name of butternut or white walnut is Juglans cinerea and this species has its origin in the eastern region of the United States as well as the southeast part of neighbouring Canada. This tree can be found growing naturally in wide area ranging eastward to New Brunswick. In addition, butternut is found growing in the area from southern Quebec to the western region of Minnesota as well as from the south to northern region of Alabama extending southwest to the northern areas of Arkansas. However, butternut is not found anywhere in nearly all of the southern regions of United States.

Butternut is occasionally grown by people in North America for the edible seeds produced by the species. In fact, a number of named varieties produce these edible seeds. The trees start producing fruits after about six to ten years of sowing the seeds and they usually fruit biennially. As mentioned earlier, butternut trees generally survive for a very short period when compared to other trees and are rarely found to grow beyond 80 years or, at the most, 90 years. In Romania and Denmark, butternut is sometimes cultivated for its timber. Butternut trees have a deep taproot and these roots cannot withstand any kind of disturbance.

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Butternut (Juglans Cinerea) Health Benefits


Butternut is a plant. People use the bark of butternut for medicine.

People take butternut for constipation, gallbladder disorders, hemorrhoids, and skin diseases. Butternut is also used for cancer and infections caused by bacteria and parasites. Some people use butternut as “a tonic.”

Several indigenous tribes in North America have been using butternut in the form of a laxative as well as a tonic for treating various health conditions, including headaches, arthritic and rheumatic joints, constipation, dysentery as well as wounds. In contemporary herbal medicine, butternut is considered to be an important medication for treating persistent constipation, which mainly helps in promoting the usual bowel movements. In herbal medicine, butternut is particularly effective when butternut is blended with any other carminative (a remedy that removes flatulence) herb, for instance, Angelica archangelica. The internal bark (also known as quills) of butternut is among the few very powerful laxatives, which are considered very safe for use by pregnant women.

Butternut (Juglans Cinerea) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Butternut (Juglans Cinerea) flower


Butternut is also effective in reducing the levels of LDL cholesterol, while promoting the elimination of waste materials from the liver - thereby lessening the load on the liver. An infusion prepared with the inner bark of this tree is used in the form of a febrifuge, cholagogue, stomachic as well as a gentle laxative. When taken in small doses, this infusion is very effective and does not result in cramps. It is best to collect the bark during autumn, while another report says that collecting the bark during the later part of spring is better. An infusion prepared with the dried out external bark of butternut tree is employed for treating toothache as well as dysentery. The oil extracted from the nuts (fruits of the butternut tree) is employed for treating fungal infections as well as tapeworms.

The bark of the butternut tree also possesses gentle cathartic attributes and earlier the bark of the butternut tree was used in the form of a medicine instead of jalap, a further expensive cathartic that had to be imported from far away Mexico. It may be noted that during the American Revolution, some people obtained an extract from the inner bark of butternut tree and tried to use it to avoid getting smallpox. This extract was also used for treating dysentery as well as other problems related to the stomach and the intestines.

The extract obtained from the butternut bark is believed to be a very important medicine for treating duodenal catarrh as well as chronic jaundice and torpidity of the liver. Using it in small dosages has proved to be effective in treating bilious diarrhea, dysentery as well as a number of intestinal ailments that are accompanied by symptoms that indicate hyperemia, irritability or have an inclination to inflammation. Using medium or moderate doses of this extract is known to be useful in successfully treating chronic constipation, provided the condition is subject to removal of bile, which makes the stool dry due to absence of glandular and biliary secretion and clay-colored.

Butternut is particularly used to prepare a remedy for skin conditions that are related to any unusual problem concerning the intestinal tract. Some of the skin diseases that can be treated successfully with butternut include acne, herpes circinatus, rupia, impetigo, prurigomoluscum, chronic scaly skin, pemphigus and lichen. In addition, butternut is also useful in the treatment of conditions like noli me tangere, eruptions all over the body like scarlatina, enlarged glands, mucous membrane irritation, inflamed throat, and congestion as well as irritation of the gastric mucous membranes and those in the respiratory tract. Butternut is also effective for curing mouth ulcers accompanied with constipation, sore mouth, and rheumatic muscles in the lumbar area.

It has been proved that the species Juglans cinerea is very effective in curing various skin conditions, irrespective of whether they are pustular or scaly, whether they are marked by bullae or papules, as mentioned earlier, provided the lesion is related to some kind of problem associated with digestion as well as assimilation.

Butternut may also be used effectively, internally as well as topically, for treating chronic and bad-conditioned ulcers and also to promote eliminating waste materials from the body and augmenting nutrition.

Freshly obtained inner bark of butternut is used to prepare a saturated tincture to cure various skin diseases. While small doses of the tincture can be taken internally, it can also be used externally on the affected areas. In the case of stubborn chronic eczema, fresh juice of the inner bark of Juglans should be applied to the affected area topically. Doing so will accelerate the healing process.

Syrup prepared with the fresh inner bark of the tree may be taken internally to treat bowel problems in babies as well as children, constipation in lactating women as well as to treat diarrhea. On the other hand, an extract from the inner bark is possibly the most effective remedy for intermittent fevers or at any time when butternut is used in the form of a cathartic.

The herb butternut may be used together with other herbs such as berberis, podophyllin or phytolacca, especially when the health problems are brought upon by occipital (near the occipital bone) headaches.

The seed husks as well as the bark of the butternut tree yield a dye whose color may vary from yellow to orange. Often the color of the dye is deep brown and it does not need any mordant. The husks of the butternut seeds may be dried out and stored for use when needed. The young twigs, unripe fruits, leaves and buds of the tree yield a pale brown dye, which also does not need any mordant. You can also dry up the leaves and store them for future use. The young roots of the butternut tree yield a black dye. The butternut trees produce and secrete substances that may slow down the growth of other plants in the vicinity. Hence, the butternut tree is a bad companion plant. When it rains, these chemicals or substances are washed from the leaves and they drop on the ground, affecting the growth of plants beneath the butternut trees. Even the roots of the butternut trees produce and secrete chemicals that are toxic to several plants, particularly apples (Malus species), white pines (specifically Pinus spp.). Potentilla spp. and plants that belong to the Ericaceae family. The butternut species is not a very important crop like the black walnut - Juglans nigra, but it is still grown for its timber, which is used to make doors, window frames, furniture and so on.

The butternut trees start producing seeds for commercial supply when they are roughly 20 years old and they produce maximum seeds during the period between 30 years and 60 years. You can hope to receive excellent crops once in every two or three years. In between, the trees will yield light crops. In fact, people value the butternut more for its nuts and not so much for its timber. These nuts are consumed by humans as well as animals. Usually, the nuts produced by the butternut trees are used in baking items as well as making candies. The texture of these nuts is oily and they have a wonderful flavour.

The timber of the butternut trees is not very heavy and requires lot of polishing. The timber of the butternut trees is extremely resistant to rotting, but compared to the black walnut timber, it is soft. When the timber is oiled, the wood grain generally shows enough shine. The timber from the butternut trees is usually used to make furniture. In addition, this timber is very much preferred by wood carvers.

There was a time when the bark as well as the nut rinds of the butternut tree were employed to dye cloth, as they produce a dye whose color varies from pale yellow to deep brown. In order to obtain deeper hues, the bark was boiled in water to make the color concentrated. However, it seems that this dye was never used for commercial purposes. On the other hand, it was mostly used to dye cloths that were home spun.

Sometime during the middle of the 19th century, people living in southern Indiana and southern Illinois, many of them had migrated from the southern regions of the United States, were called ‘butternuts", as some of these people wore home spun cloths and dyed using the butternut extract. Afterwards, when the American Civil War was on, sometimes the word ‘butternut’ was used to refer to the Confederate soldiers. This was primarily owing to the fact that the uniforms of some Confederate soldiers faded from their original grey color to tan or even pale brown. There is another explanation for this too which says that possibly some Confederate soldiers wore uniforms that were made from cloth dyed with the color extracted from the bark of the butternut trees. All said and done, this significant nickname has some relation to the uniforms of the Confederate soldiers, which were made from home spun cloth dyed with butternut dye.

The seed of butternut can be consumed raw or even pulverized into powder and blended with cereal flour to prepare biscuits, cakes, bread, muffins and other items. The seeds are not only oily, but have a pleasant taste. As the oil contained by the seeds is very unstable/ volatile, the nuts become rancid very easily when they are opened. Generally, the weight of the kernel comprises just roughly 20 per cent of the entire seed’s weight and it is not easy to extract the kernel. The unripe butternut fruit can be used to make pickles. Each butternut seed measures anything between 3 cm and 6 cm across. A syrupy sap is tapped from the butternut tree during spring and it may be used in the form of a rejuvenating beverage. Alternatively, you may also boil the sap to form a type of sugar or into syrup or also add it to maple syrup.


Butternut (Juglans Cinerea) Side effects


Butternut (Juglans Cinerea) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Butternut (Juglans Cinerea) tree


Butternut tree encloses naphthoquinone elements and when taken internally, these may be responsible for stomach irritation. Therefore, people who have gallstones should avoid using butternut.

Butternut appears to be safe for most people, but butternut can cause diarrhea and irritation of the stomach and intestines.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It’s Unsafe to use butternut in large amounts if you are pregnant. Butternut might stimulate the bowels too much. Avoid use.