Walnut (Juglans Regia) Extract
The English walnut is the most popular and widely used nut throughout the world.1 It is the fruit of a deciduous tree that can get up to 120 feet in height and 12 feet in diameter.2,3,4 The blooms appear in late spring and early summer and are followed by dark green fruits.2 Originally from the Near East,5 walnuts have been cultivated for centuries in Europe, North Africa, East Asia, and North America.3,6 The major countries that produce walnuts are China, the U.S., Iran, Turkey, and Ukraine, but they grow in many other countries as well.7 The English walnut is different from the black walnut (J. nigra) and white walnut or butternut (J. cinerea), both of which are native to the eastern U.S.3 The leaves, bark, fruits or nuts, kernels, and oil can be used.2
The genus name Juglans comes from Jovis glans or Jupiter’s nuts because of the ancient belief that during the “golden age” gods ate walnuts while the common people ate acorns.4,8 The species name regia means royal and refers to the walnut’s attractive appearance and historical importance as timber and food.4
The English walnut is called the Persian walnut everywhere except the U.S.1 The Romans considered the walnut to be Persian because it was introduced to Italy from Persia.4,8 A walnut was cultivated in ancient Greece but a superior cultivated variety came from Persia to Greece.9 The origin is difficult to discern because the walnut is so widespread now.4 Most likely it was cultivated first in Southeast Europe and Asia Minor up to the Himalayas.4 The name English walnut came about because the English shipped walnuts around the world from Mediterranean countries in the mid-14th century.1,4
In traditional Roman weddings, it was customary for the bridegroom to throw walnuts for good health, to ward off disease, and to increase fertility.4 In contrast, Romanian brides that did not want children placed a roasted walnut in their bodice to remain childless. During the Middle Ages, Europeans used walnut branches to ward off lightning, fevers, witchcraft, the evil eye, and epileptic fits. In China, musically trained singing crickets, considered a good omen, were carried in intricately carved walnut shells.4
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7 World Horticultural Trade & U.S. Export Opportunities. World Walnut Situation & Outlook. Available at: http://www.fas.usda.gov/htp/Hort_Circular/2004/04-30-04/04-04%20Walnut%20Update.pdf. Accessed August 25, 2005.
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15 Feldman EB. The scientific evidence for a beneficial health relationship between walnuts and coronary heart disease. J Nutr 2002;132(5):1062S-1101S.
16 Jagtap AG and Karkera SB. Extract of Juglandaceae regia inhibits growth, in-vitro adherence, acid production and aggregation of Streptococcus mutans. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2000;52(2):235-42.
17 Brunke H and Miller M. English Walnuts Profile: Overview. Available at: http://www.agmrc.org/agmrc/commodity/nuts/englishwalnut/englishwalnutsprofile.htm. Accessed August 25, 2005.
18 National Agricultural Statistics Service. Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts: 2004 Summary: July 2005. Available at: http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/reports/nassr/fruit/pnf-bb/ncit0705.txt. Accessed August 25, 2005.