So I was at the kitchen sink today, doing the dishes, and I happened to glance at our little seedling oak tree. We have been given one to grow, and it’s leaves are just changing at the moment and it is rather pretty. It got me thinking about whether oak can do anything for us herbally speaking.
Back to my rather lovely “Backyard Medicine” book. This is the one that I picked up when we were on holiday in Canada. I have been hankering after it for AGES and it was cheaper to buy over there then it would ever be over here. Anyway, it has a lovely bit all about oak.
At one time the British Isles had lots and lots of Oak forests. In fact, in days gone by, where my house is would have been in Sherwood Forest, (as in Robin Hood, Maid Marian and the Merry Men) with lots and lots of Oak trees around it. Unfortunately, Oak is rather a victim of its own success and because it was fabulous for building with, has been used for houses and ships and all kinds of things. Oaks produce acorns and they feed pigs; acorns also stand as a famine food and are a coffee substitute known as ersatz coffee. Apparently it tastes quite palatable and it is low in caffeine. The Oak galls, also known as oak apples, are constituents for ink and the bark can be used as an astringent. In fact it is as an astringent, a tightener or a drier, that it is used for mostly in herbalism today.
Oak leaf tea is used as a diarrhoea treatment, as is the young oak bark made into a tea as well. Another use is as a tooth powder made from the dried oak bark. You can add fennel seed powder, cinnamon powder, and bicarbonate of soda and use it to brush your teeth. I am quite intrigued by this. I might look into it a bit more.
And if that weren’t enough uses for oak, you can also use the twigs to clean your teeth. Amazingly versatile isn’t it?!