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English oak (Quercus robur, Quercus pedunculata)

dabThe English oak (Quercus robur) is a species which, together with the sessile oak (Quercus sessilis) of the same plant family, has found medicinal use.

What does the English oak look like and where does it come from?

Both the English oak and the sessile oak are trees typical to Poland. It occurs in natural habitats of the temperate climate of Europe and North America.

The massive appearance and longevity of the tree makes it recognisable. The characteristic form of the leaves (the lamella has three to six pairs of rounded flaps which are described as inversely egg-shaped) and fruits (the distinctive acorns) makes the oak readily discernible without specialist knowledge.

Active ingredient contents in oak bark and their action

The main ingredients the extraction of which is essential to therapeutic use are tannis, e.g. elagotannins and proanthocyanidins. Tannins are substances with styptic action which, to put it simply, stop minor bleeding, prevent infections from spreading and inhibit excessive escape of systemic fluids. Apart from tannins, the bark of the oak contains phlobaphenes, and triterpene acids and compounds that do not outweigh the high content and basic action of tannins.

What are the uses of Oak bark?

Oak bark is applied externally only as rinses, decoctions and bathing formula ingredients. Astringent action for faster healing of skin lesions caused by frostbite or skin disorders. Oak bark extracts are also recommended for haemorrhoids, in the form of a sitz bath. All wounds in the oral cavity and ailments related to pressure of dentures on the gums (decubitus ulcers) can be alleviated with the extract of oak bark (an example of its finished preparation is the drug Mucosit). Another interesting use of the styptic effect of oak bark is hyperidrosis, or excessive sweating, in which the preparation should also be applied externally only.

Note that oak bark does not cause allergic reactions of the skin, which is a great advantage.

How to make a sitz bath

It is best to prepare the sitz bath of oak bark in bulk (not in infusion bags). According to the enclosed instructions, prepare a decoction. Manufacturers usually recommend pouring over one to two spoons of loose bark with a glass of water and heat under cover (do not bring to boil) for approximately 30 minutes. Next, move the prepared decoction into a bowl and add enough water to submerge the buttocks (in treatment of haemorrhoids and pains of private parts, e.g. from pregnancy) or feet (in treatment of excessive sweating). Note that oak bark gives an intense colour to water, the skin and the dish in which it is prepared. Hence be aware that your skin might turn brownish for a time.

Can oak bark be combined with other plant extracts?

Yes, especially with camomile, pot marigold, coltsfoot, thyme, sage and mint. A proper composition can combine the styptic action of oak bark with the anti-inflammatory effect of camomile, pot marigold and coltsfoot and the disinfecting action of sage. Mint oil gives a pleasant cool sensation which reduces troublesome pain. An example of such a composition is Mucosit gel. The drug is indicated for administration in the oral cavity to treat irritation, bleeding and inflammation of the gums (gignivitis), as well as decubitus ulcers from dentures and the associated pain.

Products containing English oak

Tips - English oak

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