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Oak (Quercus spp.)
Oak tress, with their unique fruits called acorns, are a favourite source of food for many species of wildlife. Mankind, on the other hand, admires the stately tree for its strength and beauty and wide girth of branches. But having discovered its astringent, healing qualities, man also benefits from its many medicinal virtues.

Plant Facts : Oak tress have alternative and distinctive, simple leaves-and all tress exhibit acorns, peculiar only to the oak. Many northern species have a tendency to retain their dead leaves for some time. Their bark has a tannic scent and a slightly bitter and stringent taste.

Origin : Several species of oaks grow in parts of Europe and in many regions across North America. They often grow in damp, mixed woods.

Parts used: It is primarily the bark, peeled from young twigs and shoots, that is used for medicinal purposes. The valuable tannic acids - complex substances used medicinally as well as in the tanning process- are concentrated in the bark. Young shoots are believed to have a better quality of tannins than the older bark that is found around the trunk.

Components : the oak's main components are the anti-itch, mildly antiseptic and very astringent tannins, particularly catechin. In addition, oak contains sugar, pectins, starch and protein.

Indications : Baths and compresses are often used for skin rashes, eczema and wounds because oak bark is astringent and anti-inflammatory. As a rinse, oak helps with inflammations of the gums or the mucous membranes of the mouth. A tea made of oak bark also strengthens the intestines and is useful in fighting diarrhea.

Take care : Any preparations containing tannins may cause brownish discoloration to appear on the skin. These will fade away quickly, however, when topical use us discontinued. Never use oak extract in the eyes because of its drying effect on the eye mucosa.

Astringent; promotes healing of wounds.

Methods of Administration

Tea : To combat diarrhea; add 1 tsp. of finely chopped or powdered bark to about 1 cup of cold water and boil. Steep for 15 min.; strain. Drink 1 cup of tea upto 3 times per day.

Bath additives : for sitz baths and foot baths; Pour about 1 gal. of cold water over 1 cup of cut oak bark. Boil gently for 15-20 min. Strain and add to bath water. Bathe for 15-20 min. 1 or 2 times a day.

Compresses : To treat rashes : apply a cloth soaked in oak bark tea several times daily.

Rinse or gargle : For inflammations of the gums, mouth and throat; boil 2 tsp. of oak bark in 2 cups of water for about 20 min. and then strain. Gargle several times daily with the solution.

Caution : Do not use if pregnant or nursing. Do not give to small children without a doctor's supervision. Oak bark is not for extended use - do not take for more than 3-4 days.