Black walnut miracle extract?

A black walnut dental treatment is apparently enjoying popularity in Amish (and I assume other) circles.  Black walnut extract is claimed to fix cavities, cracks, and toothaches.

A local dentist, however, says it doesn’t work.

Dr. Stephen Raffensperger is quoted on the treatment in this article.  He is adamant that it does not do what it claims.  But  he’s not being listened to.

“If I say directly that it doesn’t work I’m not to be believed” he said. “Apparently the word is out that your dentist doesn’t want you to know about this.”

“Anything I say is suspect because obviously I don’t want to go out of business. I can’t tell my patients — and I’m a chemistry major — that this doesn’t work. I’m dealing with miseducation and it’s about belief.”

Black Walnut Dental ExtractThis comment brought to mind the psychology behind conspiracy theories.  That is, the fact that there is no evidence to support a given conspiracy doesn’t matter–that just shows that “the powers that be” are covering something up.  A lack of evidence may even be seen as support for a theory.

Raffensperger, a man with a 27-year practice in Intercourse, PA, is not to be trusted.  Maybe there are other issues at work not mentioned in the piece, but you’d think he’d get the benefit of the doubt at some point.  I’m sure there are those that do believe him, but apparently a good chunk of his patients do not.

The article includes a round-up of various web resources’ comments on the treatment, including,, and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.  Some mention other uses, including for varicose veins, rheumatism, and high blood pressure.

Perhaps there is medicinal value to black walnut extract, but at least one dentist says it won’t solve your teeth problems.  Anyone encountered this remedy before?

Black walnut photo: crookrw/flickr

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    1. Annette

      I’ve not heard of this black walnut extract, but my Amish and conservative Mennonite friends do seem to place a lot of faith in alternative medicines/cures. When my Amish friend’s mother died of cancer, the family started drinking this . . . thing they concocted by soaking a special mushroom in water on a daily basis. They eventually stopped that after a few months, I believe. When she was infertile for years, she and her husband looked into buying some sort of (extremely expensive–hundreds and hundreds of dollars!) supplements that were some sort of magical cure-all and had plenty of testimonials from other Amish and Mennonites (and any lay-scientist worth their salt can tell you what these are worth compared with actual scientific testing). Fortunately, after a medical procedure for another issue (but located in the same general area), she began conceiving, and is doing just fine with 3 children, so far.

      There is definitely a certain suspicion of actual medicine in the larger communities, it seems to me. I know there are many, many reasons for this, and I hate to see people fleeced for “cures” that don’t actually help.

    2. Dena

      Personally I believe there is a lot of good to be had with the homeopathic remedies however, they are not cure-alls and we have to use common sense (totally misnamed). Certain herbs, etc may help with fertility, prevent cancer and other ills but we know that modern medicine definitely makes a difference too. I know from experience that certain natural supplements do in fact, help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Modern medicine has come a long way in helping us live healthier lives but there is still a place for the “old ways”, one just needs to know when to use one over the other.

      1. Distrusting a known face

        Dena I don’t discount them myself, either. I think some can probably be pretty helpful. I am just fascinated by the distrust of an established medical professional with a relationship to the community.

        It’s not a big faceless body as in when people talk about “the system” or “Big Pharma”. This is a guy who has practiced in the community for going on three decades. Not someone who showed up last week. It seems like it would take some nerve to just reject his opinion outright. If you buy into “your dentist doesn’t want you to know about this”, you’re basically saying that he is placing his own financial interests ahead of your health.

        That is how it is painted here anyway, in this one story. Maybe there is an x factor that is not being spoken of, that would give reason to doubt the Dr. But absent that I feel bad for Raffensperger.

    3. Katrina

      The Amish have relied on homeopathic treatments for generations. My great aunt had a thick book filled with recommended treatments for various symptoms/diseases/aches. Whenever anyone in the family got ill, it was the first (and last) thing she consulted.

    4. I can’t imagine the frustration this dentist must feel. I know plenty of Plain People who would much sooner believe in some quacky home remedy than in what an educated doctor has to say. There ought to be a ‘home remedy’ for such foolishness.

    5. Alice Mary

      Something about this rings a bell, but I’m not sure why. Could it be that I heard that black walnut extract has anti-inflammatory properties? I’m not sure anymore. But “Dr. Michael’s” Herbal remedies (a store on Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago in my old neighborhood back in the 1960’s) did a thriving business with the Eastern European population in the area—it was around as long as I can remember (maybe still is), so I know some herbal remedies work—or at least they contribute mightily to the “placebo effect”—mind over matter, I guess.

      I completely agree with Dena (her comment about “common sense.”) Now, if we could package & sell THAT, we’d have a whole lot more change in our pockets! 😉

      I’ve really been surprised by the preponderance of expensive “home remedies” I’ve come across in “The Conection”—my subscription started in June. If nothing else, the “colon cleansers” are scary—my mom died of colon cancer and my 75-year-old sister is a colon cancer survivor (12 yrs.). Her husband died of it at age 54. I had some pre-cancerous polyps removed, myself. I’d hate to see anyone (Amish, etc.) suffer my Mom’s/brother-in-law’s fate because they relied on those questionable “cures.”

      Alice Mary

    6. Black Walnut Dentistry

      This must be the reason why there seems to be high demand among the Amish in Holmes County, OH for black walnuts. Someone with a toothache may try the black walnut cure first, but pain will eventually drive him or her to seek professional help. The Amish eat a lot of sugary food, so they are probably prone to tooth decay and other dental problems.

    7. Matt from CT

      Speaking of conspiracies, this came across my interweb today:

      Having worked for a newspaper in the past, I could see an editor doing just what the link says to do!

      1. Airplane vapor trails as government anthrax poisoning? Hey, why not!

        I think I’m just not geared to a conspiracy theory mentality. Must make daily life more exciting though.

        Thanks for sharing this Matt.

    8. Katrina

      My theory is this: that in the the old days, (pre 1910) doctors were few and far between in rural or relatively unsettled areas. Remember, at one point, what is today Ohio and Indiana were considered to be the untamed western wilderness. Not a lot of settlers had money lying around to pay doctors, although some doctors were willing to accept barter instead of money. (I’ll set your child’s broken arm in exchange for a dozen fresh eggs and one of your puppies, for example). People, Amish or not, had to rely on plants and herbs for treatments for medical illnesses and aches. The custom and tradition of homeopathic medicine was carried down through the generations.

    9. Melissa

      Black Walnut....

      I am a firm believer in the use of herbs for aliments. I’ve been treating my family with herbs for about 8 years now. They are an alternative to many health problems and have helped us numerous times. I beleve that expert medical advice is needed at times and doctors are needed. We will go to the doctor if we need to, but haven’t had to in many years.
      When we are getting sick with something we go straight to the herbs. The less you can take man made medicine the better. I make most of my own formulas and they have done nothing but help us.
      Everyones health comes down to nutrition. WE ARE WHAT WE EAT! If you eat sugar, your probably going to get cavites. If you eat fast food, your probably going to get heart disease. Herbs are mostly packed with nutrition with vitamins and trace minerals not found in todays diet of margarine and GMO corn.

    10. Richard from Amish Stories

      When it comes to using natural medicine I take most with a grain of salt, but I do think some can work fairly well in addition to using regular medicines prescribed by a doctor if needed. Richard.

    11. Lattice

      My Amish friend used black walnut extract to treat an abscessed tooth, which she diagnosed based on pain and a swelling on the gum. When I saw her again, the swelling was gone and the tooth no longer hurt. She did take some penicillin (obtained from Mexico) at my recommendation, as I’ve heard that untreated dental infections can cause a multitude of problems, even to the heart. Not sure if that’s accurate. She’s certain that the extract is what cured her.

      Yes, my Amish friends definitely have a suspicion and mistrust when it comes to conventional medicine.

    12. Mary

      My 11 yr. old granddaughter (Marissa Cherry),came home from the mission field in Africa with 6 cavities. Before her mother had taken her to the dentist, (like she was going to), someone told her about the black walnut tincture. Being skeptical, and yet knowing she has nothing to loose, she tried it on her dau. for several weeks. To her amazement, 3 of the cavities were so healed over that she could not even find where they had been! She became a believer and now is giving it to her other 2 daughters. And by the way, she is not Amish nor Mennonite! 🙂

      1. Lattice and Mary thanks for sharing these black walnut examples. The skeptic in me would lean to the penicillin explanation in your story Lattice. And Mary I am also wondering how they knew they were cavities without a dental diagnosis. Or maybe they were that big that it was obvious. In either case that story is powerful and I can see how it would make a strong testimonial.

        1. Jennifer Jurwich

          Many testimonials on Amazon

          There seem to be a lot of uses for it besides dentistry. If you are truly interested in hearing from people who have used it, read the reviews here:

    13. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      My doctor (mostly, a good Doc)

      Some doctors only believe in the latest thing dropped in free samples at their office, I am jokingly referring to MY doctor, who actually said “Well, SHOM, I am not sure how to best clear up your condition, but I got this stuff for free and I’d like to get rid of it, so you might as well try it, don’t ingest it, you’re not to swallow it, okay?”

      He didn’t say it like that, but that is the gist of it. It worked to an extent. Although not due to an allergy, it was seasonally related.

      1. Shom I smiled reading this. Your doc’s honesty is at least refreshing 🙂

    14. L.C.

      My husband is a physician and he has always hoped that medical research would take on the task of deeply researching “herbal medicines”. He’s Polish and Mom had learned about and passed on a few “herbal” remedies. As with anything one must be very careful in using these “natural” remedies. Digitalis is made from the Foxglove plant. It can kill as well as be helpful. One must be educated and really know what they’re doing.

      In my opinion, pharmaceutical companies don’t want intensive research into herbals because it would probably cut into their high priced R+D to come up with the chemical concoctions for drugs; and consequently the cost of these drugs to the consumer. I’m not saying that as a blanket statement for all of them. We should be thankful for the drugs we have today; but I think we really should look very closely re’ the use+benefits of what the Lord has provided in his creation also.

      Isn’t it sad to say that it certainly seems that most everything comes down to money and “the love of money(Mammon).

    15. Sara Mandal-Joy

      wondrous stuff...

      In traditional herbology, black walnut extract is an anti-parasitical (usually used in conjunction with cloves). It also has natural antibiotic and antiviral properties. My only hesitation on using it on teeth is that it is an amazing dye. One drop (of even a diluted solution) on anything and you have a permanent dark blue/black coloration. Sprinkling the spill area with ascorbic acid powder immediately will help to fade it, but I’d be concerned about the dye’s effect on teeth. Its possible the color doesn’t “take” on teeth?? But when I’ve taken it as an antiparasitical I’ve always been very careful (used a straw) to not get it on my teeth.

      I’m not a conspiracy “nut” but I’m in agreement with many of my Amish friends that contemporary culture places far far too much weight on “educated” doctors and any other mind focused endeavor. The doctors buy into what they are taught as absolute truth, when we all know that research constantly changes our understandings of what is – with almost eternal flip flops, and currently most research is funded by the drug companies…. Its not an ideal set-up. I and my Amish friends are thankful the doctors are there, particularly for emergency treatment, like for broken bones or such. For many things attempting to listen to God, from quiet inner awareness, and to our own bodies… adjusting our lives and diets as we feel guided to do so. And turning to older more earth-centric (less mind driven) remedies is a natural extension of that way of life. Health is for many of us a whole different thing than something to go fix with a pill – though I (and my Amish friends) do take pills at times. But in general health is considered a whole field of beingness, the fabric in which we live our lives and receive from God. When a health problem arises the whole pattern of the quilt of our lives is examined. For a “knot” (physical ailment) to arise and/or persist there is a skew in the larger weave to be addressed. At times there is a need to go and address the immediate issue first, and then have the space and time to address the broader weave. But when I listen carefully I can “hear” – I get nudged – in an apt direction for the next step. Our contemporary culture has totally lost touch with such awareness, so we turn to our minds and turn them (and our doctors) into gods. Just my 2 cents. Sara

      1. Mary

        Sara, the black walnut tincture does not actually stain ones teeth at all. A mystery to me, for as you wrote, it stains anything else!

        1. Sara Mandal-Joy

          to Mary

          Mary – thanks for the info! I never would have guessed that that would be the case. Good to know. Now I too may give it a try on my teeth! Sara

    16. Ed

      I get angry when I hear promoters of “alternative” remedies bash doctors or legitimate pharmacetical companies. As if these alternative-cure companies don’t themselves have a very definite financial interest in bashing legitimate medicine.

      I say, if you are profiting from selling an alternative remedy, pay for a little scientific double-blind testing on whatever it is you are promoting. Don’t just tell me that something is “anti-parasitical” or has “natural antibiotic properites”. Give me hard research on things like toxicity, dosage, and effects, and publish it in a legitimate journal. It is the least that we should expect from these companies.

      Many people are scammed of their money by these false cures. Sadly, some pay with their lives by trusting a snake oil salesman over solid medical advice.

      1. Sara Mandal-Joy


        Most of us that use herbs, study herbs and such, do not sell products, do not buy products. We gather herbs and make our own, for our own usage. There _are_ scientific studies out there, more European than in this country, as there has been such a mindset against all herbal alternatives. UCSF though has been doing extensive studies in last ten years. There is a lot of documentation out there, for traditional doctors and/or consumers. And no one needs to “buy” anything for most herbal alternatives – just have a good library and take the time to do the research. Its a life long process. But its not about money, or needn’t be. Some folks are in a hurry and unsure of themselves about materials/methods and do purchase things from health food stores and such. I recommend if they are in too much of a hurry to do the studying and preparation work themselves, then they probably ought to see a regular doctor – if the problem is that acute. But few of us that really value herbology go out and “buy” things. We grow or gather (or trade with others living this lifestyle – I have a black walnut tree for instance, but my valerian didn’t make it this year, so I trade with a neighbor who has wildcrafted valerian root but no black walnut tree) for what grows locally and will work for what ails us. Sara

      2. Matt from CT

        The herbal companies don’t have the incentive to do so — you can’t patent the herbs, so even if one company did fund it then every other company that markets the same herbs could undercut them on price since they didn’t bear the cost of performing such research.

        Synthetic pharmaceutical companies run into the same problem; there is no financial upside to any individual company performing research for new uses of old drugs (and potential downside to the entire industry if it undercuts newer drugs.)

        This is the type of basic research that is best suited for public universities and national laboratories — even if it’s funded by a tax aimed at the companies that benefit from the research (i.e. all herbal medicines are charged a certain % that goes to fund research that everyone in the market may then use.)

        There’s not a lot of that done anymore; our Universities have grown pretty darn greedy — it’s not just tuition that’s doubled over the last 30 years. Their research is much more strongly driven now in the pursuit of ideas they can patent and market to earn $$$, whereas if you stepped back to say 1955 much of what was developed in the Universities was left to the public domain.

        1. Herbal remedies: data vs. testimonials

          Thanks Matt, great comment, and good insights to keep in mind.

          On the herbal and natural remedy companies, I would also argue that the power of anecdotal and personal selling will outweigh whatever empirical claims may be made.

          Even if research on a given herb or treatment showed it, conclusively, working positively, first-person testimonials will remain the more effective way of promotion. The trust I have in my dad or brother can move me to take action in a way a cold study or data cannot.

          But undergoing such research also means risking getting results not supportive of the claims made, which can ding enthusiasm for a product. Not having the research to back it also allows a variety of claims to flourish–which is probably why you can find so many uses for the black walnut extract listed among the various sources out there.

          I’m not saying that these remedies do not help treat a given ailment or ailments. But I do think it can be advantageous to the companies selling them to not have studies performed for the reasons given above. A lot can happen if you leave a little grey area.

    17. Celeste

      Black Walnut Hull Extract

      Black Walnut Hull Extract is used primarily as an anti-parasitic. It kills all stages of parasites in the body and works best with alongside cloves (ground powder) and wormwood herb together. Almost everyone can benefit from its use and maintains good health. Please research these herbs further, personally I used these and I was able to release a lot of waste that was in my body. I felt lighter and healthier than I had in years. Perfect health to all of you!!!

    18. Katie

      Black Walnut Cured My Abscessed Tooth

      I’m not really sure of the dentist’s motive for stating that it won’t work (sadly, doctors are becoming more and more like used car salesmen these days). But I do know from personal experience on myself and 3 other people, that a black walnut poultice does indeed cure gum infections related to an abscessed tooth.

      I had such a bad abscess that it would “pop” and bleed 2x daily, and it caused a horrible sinus infection. Since I have no insurance, I couldn’t visit a dentist or doctor, and had to take matters into my own hands. I emptied some black walnut capsules into a bowl, added a small amount of water, and mixed. I then placed it on a gauze square and packed it around the tooth for 1 hour. I did this morning and night, for 2 days -and by the 3rd day, everything was healed up. I also took the walnut capsules by mouth 2x daily. For my sinus infection, I added 10 drops of the essential oil combo called “oil of theives” to a bottle of Ayr Saline Nasal Spray. After 3 days, the sinus infection had cleared. Two years later, I finally had enough money to get a root canal – but during that time, the infection did not come back.

      I’m a strong believer in natural medicine. Plants were put here for a reason. There’s no reason to be stubborn – give it a try, and if it doesn’t work, there’s always doctors – if you’re able to pay for them.

    19. Black Walnut stops toothache pain

      I have used it for years, the black walnut kills the germs eating the nerves stopping the pain.
      The extract does not work for this purpose as you have said.
      Black walnut also works as an antihistamine more effective than any chemical products.
      The quality of the product determines its effectiveness as some brands don’t work at all so depending which brand you tried could make your information true.
      Had you used the right product you would be utterly amazed at its performance.

    20. Thanks for sharing

      Thanks for sharing the tips. Black walnut miracle extract? I am using this to make others understand

    21. Ella

      Vitamin K2

      To maintain healthy teeth enamel consume vitamin K2 either from Japanese natto, several cheeses or from supplements.

      There are several versions: vitamin K2 MK-7 which has a long half-life in the body (take a capsule three times per week) or vitamin K2 MK-4 which has a much shorter half-life but which some people prefer to use directly on their teeth.

      Vitamin K2 works by directing calcium in the blood to the bones and the teeth.