Walnuts, frequent urination and incontinence

Walnuts, frequent urination and incontinence

What is frequent urination?

Before I talk about walnuts, it is important to talk about frequent urination. Frequent urination is very common and primarily happens in those over 60 years old.  It may appear as a small problem however it may have large impact on ones lifestyle and confidence. Incontinence is a more severe form of frequent urination.

The cause & symptoms of frequent urination

Chinese medicine considers that Kidney Qi Deficiency syndrome is associated with loss of control of the urinary bladder which is the main reason of incontinence especially from middle to old age.

Apart from frequent urination, the body can also display other symptoms of Kidney Qi Deficiency, such as:

  • lack of energy
  • lower back pain
  • knee, ankle, heel and leg pain
  • weakness or puffiness
  • poor memory
  • tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • insomnia or waking very early in the morning
  • lowered libido, impotence
  • frequent urination both in the day and the night
  • clear but scanty urination

This can also occur due to long term sickness, after pregnancy or after injury to the lower back area.

Principles of treatment

Frequent urination and incontinence is a common issue seen in our clinic, when my patients come to see me, we usually check the body using traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis to find the causes of the urination problem.

The most common cause is due to the weakness and Deficiency of the Kidneys, and we will give treatment to Tonify the Kidneys to alleviate the symptoms. Treatment usually involves acupuncture or cupping or Chinese herbal medicine.

I suggest during treatment you can eat certain foods to help improve recovery or prevent this problem. Walnuts is one of the foods Chinese medicine recommends for incontinence. Also you can eat walnuts to prevent incontinence from middle age.

Health benefits of walnuts

The following health benefits represent traditional Chinese medicine knowledge of walnuts.

Tonifying Kidneys to Benefit Urination

The ancient and famous traditional Chinese medicine text Ben Cao Gang Mu records walnuts as having warming characteristics which have a sweet and mild bitter taste which tonify (strengthen) Kidney Essence, so it is suitable for symptoms of incontinence due to Kidney Deficiency.

Tonifying Lungs & Relieving Winter Cough

Walnuts are also known to help to relieve cough. It is especially useful for those who have a stronger cough in winter and on cold days. This function of walnuts is due to its ability to strengthen the Lung function. While you are undergoing treatment, I suggest that you can try spring onion, ginger and walnut porridge. Please see the recipe below.

Nourish the brain

Walnuts also help the development of the brain. As Chinese medicine considers the Kidneys to nourish the brain, eating walnuts is important in the diets of young children for brain development and in the elderly for prevention of dementia.

Walnut recipes

Walnut and goji berry porridge

1 cup of oats
2 Walnuts without shell
1 tbsp Goji Berries

Boil oats and walnuts on stove for 2 or 3 minutes and then add goji berries and it is ready to eat. This recipe is very easy and quick to cook and it makes a nutritious breakfast.  You can eat this dish twice a week.

Effects: Increase immune system, increase energy, nourish the Kidneys and the brain, balancing urination.

Spring onion, ginger and walnut porridge

2 walnuts without shell
2 tblsp spring onion
1 2cm piece of ginger sliced finely
Small handful of white rice

Bring the rice to the boil with 3 cups of water and simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice is very soft. Add the spring onions ginger and walnuts and cook for another 5 minutes. It is now ready to eat. You can add any flavour to make this dish more tasty. Whilst cooking, if the porridge becomes dry, add more water.

Effects: Strengthens the lungs and increases the immune system. This is especially beneficial in the cold winter and is a yummy breakfast.


If you have a fever or diarrhoea it is best to eat less or avoid eating walnuts.

If you suffer from nut allergies please avoid eating walnuts.

Lastly, if you are unsure if you should eat walnuts, please ask your health practitioner.

Food as medicine (A disclaimer)

Our “food as medicine” articles share knowledge about health foods in the context of traditional Chinese medicine diet therapy and practices often dating back thousands of years. We also support this knowledge with references to published scientific research. Please keep in mind that scientific research into the health benefits of foods is still emerging and human research is limited.

Consuming a wide variety of natural foods as part of a balanced diet is most beneficial for health, however, we don’t advise using food alone to treat diseases. Please consult with your doctor or health professional about which foods are suitable for your body or health issues.

What Does The Research Say?

The following insights are obtained from scientific studies, systematic reviews and analysis of clinical trials investigating the efficacy of Walnuts.

Scientific References

Browse our collection of scientific research on Walnuts. It includes recent and reputable papers published by peer-reviewed journals within the last 10 years.

Annals of Medicine

2021, Jan 15

Walnut intake, cognitive outcomes and risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Annals of Medicine

This academic review highlighted the efficacy of walnuts in improving cognitive health. Daily consumptions have been found to reduce brain diseases such as Alzheimer's and further improve memory, language, perception, verbal and non-verbal reasoning.

Cahoon, D., Shertukde, S. P., Avendano, E. E., Tanprasertsuk, J., Scott, T. M., Johnson, E. J., Chung, M., & Nirmala, N. (2021). Walnut intake, cognitive outcomes and risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of medicine, 53(1), 971–99 Full Article

Advances in Nutrition

2020, Dec 16

Nut Consumption for Cognitive Performance: A Systematic Review
Advances in Nutrition American Society for Nutrition

This study has highlighted that walnuts have been found to be more effective in improving memory (immediate and delayed), attention, processing speed, executive function, and visual-spatial ability.

Lauren E Theodore, Nicole J Kellow, Emily A McNeil, Evangeline O Close, Eliza G Coad, Barbara R Cardoso, Full Article


2020, Feb 20

Beneficial Effects of Walnuts on Cognition and Brain Health

This study indicated that walnuts significantly improves antioxidant defense and decreases free radicals’ levels, lipid peroxidation, and protein oxidation. Thus improving brain health by decreasing chances of brain diseases such as Parkinson's, depression and even type 2 diabetes.

Chauhan A, Chauhan V. Full Article

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care

2018, Nov

Beneficial effects of walnut consumption on human health
Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care

This review highlights walnuts contains alpha-linolenic acid which is essential in metabolising into bioactive oxylipins. It has been shown to protect microglial cells from inflammation, and is associated with lower fatal myocardial infarction rates through a putative antiarrhythmic effect. Therefore lowering cholesterol levels, reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases and improving brain functions.

Ros, Emilioa,b; Izquierdo-Pulido, Maríab,c; Sala-Vila, Aleix Full Article

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

2018, Jun 21

Effects of walnut consumption on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors: an updated meta-analysis and systematic review of controlled trials
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition American Society for Nutrition

This article highlighted the efficacy of cholesterol lowering effects in walnuts. It also indicated that walnuts are able to reduce oxidative stress and inflammatory markers, thus lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It also has no significant effects on increased weight gain despite being high in lipids.

Marta Guasch-Ferré, Jun Li, Frank B Hu, Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Deirdre K Tobias Full Article

The Journal of Nutrition

2014, Apr

Role of Walnuts in Maintaining Brain Health with Age
The Journal of Nutrition American Society for Nutrition

This article highlights the role of walnut in reducing the risk of Alzeimers disease. It contains polyphenols and tocopherols which reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. Therefore, it is essential in balancing metabolic effects in brain health

Poulose SM, Miller MG, Shukitt-Hale B Full Article

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Dr Ping Wang is the clinic founder and senior practitioner of Ping Ming Health. She has over 30 years of experience in traditional Chinese medicine teaching and practice. Dr Ping especially enjoys sharing her knowledge of Chinese medicine through our popular clinic articles, seminars and clinical training of students and practitioners.

  • Mac

    I was advised that immersing walnuts in water overnite and drinking the walnuts water helps lower Cholesterol, any truth in that?
    Thank you.

    19 November, 2013