Doctrine of Signatures

We have a saying with herbs that often the plant will give you a hint of its purpose by something in its shape, its flowers, its leaves – it’s signature in other words.  Walnuts are no different.  What do they look like to you?  Yes that’s right the brain!

Walnuts activate the brain

Now a recent study[1] by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, has shown that walnuts activate a part of the brain related to hunger and cravings.

Talk to people and they will tell you how eating a few walnuts can reduce their cravings, well these researchers using brain imaging have shown that this is not imagined.  Walnuts actually changed activity in the brain related to food cues and therefore, when and how people ate.  You can read more about it here.

Walnuts benefit gut bacteria

And the good news about walnuts keeps on coming!  A further study[2] has shown that walnuts can have a beneficial effect on bacteria in the gut.  Those that ate walnuts as part of this study had higher levels of Lactobacillus beneficial bacteria.  The gut microbiome has been shown critically important in immune function, brain health, digestive health and many other aspects of wellbeing.  Poor diversity of microbes in the gut has been linked to obesity and inflammatory bowel disease.

Walnuts are rich in the anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids, alpha-linoleic and fibre.  They are also high in antioxidants.  Eating walnuts has also been associated with reduced cardiovascular disease and slower tumour growth[3].

This particular Study was funded by the American Institute for Cancer Research and California Walnut Commission.

Purging Worms!

In herbal medicine walnut has a variety of uses and we use the bark, leaves and nut.  The bark is used as a laxative, for chronic constipation and dysentery.  The leaves are used for skin conditions such as eczema.  Finally, it is an extremely bitter herb and so is often used to rid the body of parasites and intestinal worms.  Again, caution here as it acts as a purgative and should be taken under supervision!

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[1] Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “In a nutshell: Walnuts activate brain region involved in appetite control: First-of-its-kind study reveals mechanism of walnuts’ documented ability to decrease hunger.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 August 2017. <>

[2] Lauri O. Byerley, Derrick Samuelson, Eugene Blanchard, Meng Luo, Brittany N. Lorenzen, Shelia Banks, Monica A. Ponder, David A Welsh, Christopher M. Taylor. Changes in the Gut Microbial Communities Following Addition of Walnuts to the Diet. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2017.07.001

[3] Davis et al “A high-fat diet containing whole walnuts (Juglans regia) reduces tumour size and growth along with plasma insulin-like growth factor 1 in the transgenic adenocarcinoma of the mouse prostate model” British Journal of Nutrition, 2012 Nov 28; 108(10): 1764–1772. Published online 2012 Jan 16. doi:  10.1017/S0007114511007288

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