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Quercus Robur / English Oak - Classification, Medicinal Uses And Dosage

Description

Quercus robur commonly known as English oak is a huge deciduous tree belonging to the white oak family with broad leaves. For many years, the oak tree was the dominant woodland tree in England and its history is strongly associated with the Druids. Indigenous peoples of Europe use them as antimicrobial and to treat problems of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT), including hemorrhoids and diarrhea.

Quercus Robur, English Oak, Classification, Ayurvedic Properties, Dosage, Vernacular Names, Taxonomical Classification, Habitat, Chemical Composition, Ancient Verse

Systematic Classification

  • Kingdom - Plantae
  • Genus - Quercus
  • Class - Magnoliopsida
  • Order - Fagales
  • Family - Fagaceae
  • Species - Quercus robur

Synonyms

  • English oak (common name)
  • Common Oak
  • European oak
  • Truffle oak
  • edunculate oak

Chemical Composition

Main phytochemicals present in Quercus robur are tannins and phenolic compounds which are responsible for its various pharmacological effects such as anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-oxidant, astringent, antiviral and anticancer effects.

  • Tannins - Hydrolysable tannin: Ellagitannins (such as Vescalagin and Castalagin) and gallotannins. Condensed tannin: Catechin and epicatechin.
  • Phenolic compounds - Polyphenols: Ellagic acid, vanillic acid, flavonoids (flavan-3-ols and flavonols). Phenolic acids: Protocatechuic acid, gallic acid.
  • Others - Scopoletin

Habitat

The English Oak is indigenous to the forest areas of Europe and western Asia. In the 1600s it was taken to North America by some holy peoples from Europe. These days, it can be found throughout southeast and southwest Canada, as well as the eastern and northwest United States. In certain natural areas of the United States, it is believed to have the potential to become invasive. It can be found in woodlands, grassland, forest edges, and roadsides. This tree prefers full sun, receiving six or more hours of direct sunlight per day, and wet, well-drained loamy or clay soils. Although it will adapt to a wide range of soil types and conditions but in humid climates, powdery mildew can affect this tree.

Morphology

Quercus robur / English oak usually reaches a height of 40–70 feet and sometimes 100 feet and has a rounded, widely spreading crown. It has short gray to black trunks with wrinkled bark. Yellowish-green flowers are monoecious, female and male are present in different ament that appear in spring. Leaves are blue green to dark green having short stalks approximately 3-5 inches long with 3-7 blunt lobes each side. Fruits are called acorns, they are oval in shape approximately 1 inch long. Acorn crowns extend roughly one third the acorn length.

Ancient Texts

Many physicians, pharmacologists have lauded the oak tree in their unique way. Dioscorides, also called "the father of pharmacognosy," in circa 77 AD wrote the work "De Materia Medica" in which he described the use of oak bark for gynecological purposes. Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician (459–370 BC) listed 300 medicinal plants in his writings classified by their physiological actions; among them oak was regarded as an astringent.

Practical Uses And Benefits

  • Internal Uses
    • Quercus robur decoction from bark contains tannins, thus has been suggested for the treatment of patients with diarrhea, dysentery, and gastritis.
    • Traditionally Quercus robur had many uses, its decoction was used to treat nausea and vomiting and said to have a cooling effect on the liver.
    • Nowadays it is mainly used for alcohol de-addiction and its associated problems like depressive nervousness.
    • It is also used for patients with high blood sugar levels and to treat fever.
    • Historically it was also used to treat urinary and kidney problems. Crushed powder of acorn consumed in wine was thought to encourage urine production, and the bark was said to work on the lower urinary systems and kidneys.
    • It also acts as an antidote for insect bites and poisonous weeds when decoction made from acorn is applied to that area.
    • It was also used for the treatment of breast cancer due to its antioxidant properties; a wash of oak bark tea has triterpenoid components which can be applied to the area of tumor growth site.
    • Distillate of english oak was known as one of the most effective treatments for leukorrhea in women.
  • External Uses
    • Decoction of Quercus robur is used to treat ulcers with foul discharges or spongy granulations, and gangrene. Water present in the hollow areas of old oaks is useful in preventing the spread of foul scabs. It was also known to act as a tonic for skin.
    • The bark of the English oak is highly valuable and is frequently used in medicines as an hemostatic and antiseptic agent. It is used as a gargle to cure toothache, putrid and ulcerated sore throats, and an anti-inflammatory and healing agent in burns.
  • Culinary Uses
    • The fruit (acorn) of English oak has been used as a foodstuff in the late Mesolithic era in Western Europe. Acron is rich in carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, amino acids and sterols thus a good source of energy.
  • Other Uses
    • By indigenous people it is used as firewood, and globally it is used for making furniture.
    • It is used as a barrel in winemaking.

Part Used

Bark, leaves and seeds (acorns)

Dosage

  • For Internal Uses
    • Decoction : 15 gm in 250 ml of water
    • Extract : 0.25 to 0.75ml
    • Powder : 15-100mg
  • For External Uses
    • For Bath : 5 g bark powder in 1 L of water.

Other Alternative Ayurvedic Herbs

In India many different species of oak tree are present mostly in the temperate Himalayan region and sometimes in coastal areas. References of many species can be seen in ayurveda because of their medicinal uses.

Oak tree in ayurveda with benefits and composition similar to that of Quercus robur is Barringtonia acutangula:

1. Barringtonia acutangula (Indian oak)

It is known as Samudraphal in Hindi and it is present in coastal mangrove areas of West Bengal.

Composition

It is rich in hydrolysable and condensed tannins and many phenolic compounds are present which are responsible for its pharmacological properties.

Benefits And Practical Uses

  • Internal Uses
    • It is used for the treatment of diarrhea, helps in urinary infections and headaches.
    • It is also an antitumor agent, which helps to treat cancer.
    • Its solution is used for eyewash.
  • External Uses
    • It is used externally for insect bites and localized pain.

Effects On Doshas

It works on Kapha and Pitta dosha.

CONCLUSION

Quercus robur is an excellent herbal medicine used for the treatment of a variety of diseases. Many poets pen this tree and call it a majestic and strong tree used as both food for wildlife and medicine. Although another species of oak tree Barringtonia acutangula is referred in ayurveda with more or less similar benefits, it is to be noted that tannins present in Quercus robur are in larger amounts when compared to its indian substitute, thus can have more benefits. So it is a possibility that further research can dig many more amazing facts about English oak, with more applications.

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Author Bio:

Best Ayurvedic Doctor - Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan

Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan

MD (ALT. MEDICINE)

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Reviewed By:

Best Ayurvedic Doctor in Mohali - Dr. Vikram Chauhan

Dr. Vikram Chauhan

MD (AYURVEDA)

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