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Quercus robur (L)

Synonyms: tanner's bark, common oak, British oak

Order: Fagaceae

Description: a large slow-growing tree indigenous to Europe and planted elsewhere.

Parts used: bark

Collection: The young bark is pared from the trunk or from branches no more than 10cm thick in April and May. 

Constituents: 15-20% tannin, gallic acid, ellagitannin

Actions: strong astringent, haemostatic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, tonic

Indications: diarrhoea, haemorrhoids, pharyngitis; gargle for tonsillitis; topically for haemorrhoids; douche for leucorrhoea

Therapeutics and Pharmacology: Quercus, in frequent small doses, is specifically indicated in acute diarrhoea and gastroenteritis to control the loss from the bowel. It may also be used as a gargle for tonsillitis, pharyngitis and laryngitis and for bleeding of the mouth and throat. It is of use as an enema for haemorrhoids and as a douche for leucorrhoea. Oak tannins are particularly well tolerated by the skin, and can be used internally or externally in the treatment of varicose veins. Quercus may be used in a compress to treat weeping eczema, burns, cuts and inflammatory eye conditions; or in a footbath for sweaty feet. The powdered bark used as a snuff is good for nosebleed.

Combinations: Quercus is often given with Zingiber or Capsicum before meals.

Preparation and Dosage:

Regulatory status GSL

Dried bark: 1-2g or by decoction

Liquid extract: 1:1 in 25% alcohol, 1-2ml

Additional Comments: The Oak was sacred to the Greeks, while the Romans dedicated it to Jupiter. It was venerated by the Druids. Galen applied the bruised leaves to wounds. Its botanical name is believed to derive from the Celtic quer, meaning fine, and cuez, tree. It was much prized in the past for shipbuilding and the construction of railway carriages. The bark is still used to tan leather and the Scottish Highlanders used it to dye yarn. Oak galls were used in the manufacture of ink. Acorns are sometimes used as a coffee substitute.



BHMA 1983 British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, BHMA, Bournemouth.

Grieve, M. 1931 A Modern Herbal, (ed. C.F. Leyel 1985), London.

Hoffmann, D. 1990 The New Holistic Herbal, Second Edition, Element, Shaftesbury.

Mills, S.Y. 1993 The A-Z of Modern Herbalism, Diamond Books, London.

Ody, P. 1993 The Herb Society's Complete Medicinal Herbal, Dorling Kindersley, London.

Weiss, R.F. 1991 Herbal Medicine, Beaconsfield Arcanum, Beaconsfield.

Wren, R.C. 1988 Potter's New Cyclopaedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations, C.W.Daniel, Saffron Walden.


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Last updated 27th November 2014     ęPurple Sage Botanicals