In praise of Walnut and Filberts

In praise of Walnut and Filbert


Yesterday as I was sitting looking out into the garden, I saw a squirrel strolling a cross the patio with a green husk of a walnut grasped firmly in its mouth. It was almost the size of its head. It was off to bury it somewhere for an overwinter snack and then likely forget where he put it. I am always finding walnuts growing in unexpected places. Just now one or two of the top leaves are turning yellow as a marker that autumn is close behind. I like walnuts to eat and nothing better than a walnut and coffee cake with good coffee in the warm September sun.  My mother had always said that walnuts were good for my brain! Of course, from long ago that idea had stemmed from the shape of the kernel which resembles a brain. Whether it was successful is a matter of debate. Juglans regia is commonly called the English Walnut and has been a food source since Neolithic times but it is not a native to the British Isles but an introduction via the Romans from the Middle East.

 Fragrant Earth were the first to promote walnut oil into aromatherapy as a vegetable oil of immense benefit. As you probably know Fragrant Earth always insisted that the term ‘carrier oil’ was misleading as the benefit of vegetable oils demanded more attention. This of course was in the tradition of Margaret Maury whose interest also lay in skin care benefits.  Walnuts are unique in their high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s) including linoleic acid and α-linolenic acid as well as an exceptionally high content of phenolics and antioxidants. Atherosclerosis is certainly something that walnut consumption has been demonstrated to be effective against. Externally walnut oil’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects help slow signs of aging and treat conditions like psoriasis. This oil is typically either cold pressed or refined and is known as one of the expensive natural oils on the market. If used for health benefits on the skin do tr to use the cold pressed material which is richer with actives. Walnut oil with its richness in constituents of antioxidants, melatonin, omega 3, 6 and 9, and phyto micro-nutrients is extremely good for skin and helps improve its visual quality. In fact, the antioxidants present in walnut oil are also said to help in reducing skin pigmentation and scars. There are three important factors for using walnut oil. It is antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory. The antioxidants are able to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles in the skin by fighting free radicals that cause cross linking in the matrix.  The antibacterial components can help protect against skin pathogens, which are constantly bombarding the largest and most exposed organ in the body. On the other hand, its acidic content promotes the good bacteria of the skin acid mantle.  Lastly, the anti-inflammatory nature of the oil helps soothe chronic conditions like eczema and psoriasis, as well as acute cases of inflammation or allergic reaction.

 About two weeks ago the squirrel was busy storing and burying filberts which you may call hazel nuts or cobnuts. I like the name filbert because it refers to the date around which the nuts are ripe and begin falling to the ground. This is the 20th of August or St. Philibert’s day!

 One of the first vegetable oils promoted by Fragrant Earth was Hazel Nut oil. Old timers will remember that at the beginning of aromatherapies popularity people almost universally used almond oil as a carrier or indeed some even used to add essential oils to a proprietary brand such as Weleda or Nelsons. Corylus avellana or hazelnut was the start for Fragrant Earth along a long trail of expertise in the combination of essential oils and fixed vegetable oils in skin and health care. The oil fraction is rich in oleic acid, phytosterols (mainly β-sisterol), vitamin E and squalene. This suggested it could be used in oxidative stress induced conditions. At the time I was treating some psoriasis especially when found in the scalp and a combination of essential oils on a base of hazelnut oil seemed worth using. The thinking was that Hazelnut oil is non-greasy and so ideal for oily skin. It also has astringent properties and closes the skin pores so good for those with acne-prone or oily skin. Hazelnut oil contains polyphenols, and it has one of the highest concentrations of flavonoids. This is due to the presence of catechins, and tannins found in the skin giving the sensation of a dry oil.  The combination of vitamin E along with beta-sitosterol does acts as an anti-inflammatory compound that help atopic skin, eczema, and psoriasis conditions. Hence as in practice it improved the scalp condition, it was noted that the hair condition itself also improved hair elasticity and volume. Hazelnut is one of those that can penetrate the hair shaft rather than sitting on top or sealing the hair shaft. Oils that penetrate the hair shaft lock in moisture, leaving the strands feeling stronger and thoroughly hydrated. Hair colouring is almost universal in women and still growing amongst men. Consumers know that despite the claims, colourings tend to fade and grow out and weaken the hair. The hair becomes dull, dry, and rough in the long run. To maintain the colour for longer and protect hair naturally hazelnut oil can be applied before shampooing or due to its lightness quickly combed through. Two traditional nut oils that contribute so much to the well being of people and particularly skin and hair care. Certainly, the squirrels know the nutritional vale even if they forget where they hid their hoard. Sort of may show that the likeness to brains doesn’t bear up