Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 29.10.2020

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English oak; Oak; quercus pedunculata; Quercus petraea; Quercus robur; Quercus sessiliflora

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In Germany, oaks are the most common deciduous tree species after beeches, accounting for 9 percent of the population in flat and hilly areas.

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All parts of the oak, especially immature acorns, are poisonous because of the tanning agents they contain and can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms (irritation of the stomach lining, vomiting, diarrhoea). Oak is used as a medicinal plant because of its tanning agents. Fresh oak bark is collected in spring. Dried and ground, it is used to make a decoction which is used externally and as tea (never more than two cups a day). Extracts of oak bark are used externally as a bath or compress (see oak bark below). Oak bark extracts contain tannin, tannic acid, tannins (see also tannin), bitter substance, gallic acid, quercine, quercetin. They have astringent, antibacterial, haemostatic and anti-inflammatory effects. Indications: eczema, chronic wounds, blepharitis, hyperhidrosis, tinea pedis. The flower of the oak tree is used as Bach Flower Oak (see below Bach Flower Therapy).

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  • From an allergological point of view, oak pollen plays only a minor role (see below pollen, tree pollen).
  • Of clinical relevance is the infestation of oak trees by the oak processionary moth. The Oak Processionary Moth, which is increasingly found in Central Europe, is exclusively found on oaks. The larvae of the Oak Processionary Moth carry poisonous hairs which cause toxic and/or allergic reactions on the skin and mucous membranes. The symptoms range from severe itching skin rashes ( caterpillar dermatitis) to asthma attacks. As the microscopic poisonous hairs can be carried by the wind up to a hundred metres away, they are an important, until now little noticed cause of " Airborne Contact Dermatitis".


Last updated on: 29.10.2020