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White Oak

  • Quercus alba L.
  • Fagaceae
  • Beech family

Common Names

herbsCommon White Oak
herbsHu (Chinese name)
herbsTanner's bark

Parts Usually Used


Description of Plant(s) and Culture

White oak is a large, native North American tree; usually 60-100 feet high, but may grow as tall as 150 feet with a trunk diameter up to 8 feet. White oak bark is pale gray, and the leaves have rounded or finger-shaped lobes. The alternate, deciduous leaves are bright green and hairless, widest beyond the middle, with 3-5 pairs of rounded lobes. Light brown, ovoid acorns grow on current year's twigs in bowl-shaped cups enclosing a quarter of the acorn.

Other varieties: Red oak (Q. rubra); Black oak (Q. tinctoria); English oak (Q. robur)

Where Found

Grows from Canada southward to the Gulf of Mexico, as far west as Texas. Found in upland woods.

Medicinal Properties

Astringent, tonic, antiseptic, anthelmintic, styptic

Biochemical Information

Calcium, cobalt, 15-20% tannin, iron, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, sulfur, and vitamin B12.

Legends, Myths and Stories

The acorns are astringent like the bark; but when shelled, ground into a meal and soaked in running water for a few hours, the tannic acid is leached out. They then may be used as a nutritive tonic for wasting diseases.

In some areas, Native Americans would gather 500 lb. per family, which was a year's supply. These were stored and later used for bread, pudding, soup, etc., prepared fresh from the ground acorn. They also were known to have allowed acorn meal to go moldy in a dark, damp place, and then scrape the mold off for application to boils, sores, and other inflammations.

There are about 40 species of the genus Quercus in China.


Good for hemorrhoids (SEE PILES), PMS (SEE PMS), varicose veins (SEE VARICOSE VEINS), goiter (SEE HYPOTHYROID), gallstones (SEE GALLBLADDER DISORDERS), kidney stones (SEE KIDNEY DISEASES), fever (SEE FEVER), sores (SEE SORES), wounds (SEE WOUNDS), sore throat (SEE SORE THROAT), canker sores (SEE CANKER SORES), menstrual problems (SEE DYSMENORRHEA), gonorrhea (SEE GONORRHEA), leukorrhea, stomach troubles (SEE INDIGESTION, and bladder problems (SEE CYSTITIS). Good for teeth. Tea used in enemas and douches. Used for chronic diarrhea (SEE DIARRHEA), dysentery (SEE DYSENTERY), ringworm, chronic mucous discharge, poison-ivy rash (SEE POISON IVY), burns (SEE BURNS), pinworms (SEE WORMS), hemostatic. Stops hemorrhages in the lungs (SEE TB), stomach (SEE ULCERS), scrofula, and bowels (SEE COLITIS), spitting of blood, stops vomiting. Used for inflammations (SEE INFLAMMATION), boils (SEE BOILS), sores (SEE SORES), infections (SEE INFECTION) internally and externally. Folk cancer remedy. Since it contains tannin, experimentally, tannic acid is antiviral, antiseptic, antitumor and carcinogenic.

Taken internally for poisoning by strychnine, veratrine, and other vegetable alkaloids.

A poultice of powdered oak bark and wheat flour combined with a little boiled water draws out slivers or splinters and other foreign substances. A wash of oak, or oak combined with witch hazel bark, is an excellent night-time compress for varicose veins (SEE VARICOSE VEINS) and broken capillaries under the skin.

The galls have the same properties as the bark.

Formulas or Dosages

Use dried powdered bark from the branches.

Infusion: steep 1 tbsp. bark in 1 pint water, simmering for 10 minutes. Take up to 3 cups a day.

Decoction: use 1 oz. of inner bark and 2 pints of water, boiled down to 1 pint and strained. Take 1 cup every 1 to 2 hours until relief from diarrhea or dysentery if felt.

Some reports of good results with powdered bark in gelatine capsules to relieve diarrhea or dysentery. Take 2 capsules swallowed with a glass of warm water 3 to 4 times a day.

Wash, enema or douche: steep 1 heaping tsp. in 1 qt. water for 30 minutes and strain. Apply often.

Nutrient Content

Calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and vitamin B12.

How Sold



Tannic acid is potentially toxic.

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