5 Amazing Health Benefits of Sweet Oak – Ben Cao Medical Book

1. Description

1.1 What is a sweet oak?

The sweet oak (botanical name: Quercus dentata, also known as Korean oak, Japanese emperor oak, or Q. daimyo oak; Chinese Pinyin: Hu Shu, Simplified Chinese: 槲树), is a species of large, flowering, fruit-bearing, deciduous, slow-growing tree in genus Quercus in the beech family, Fagaceae. The flowers are produced in May; the male flowers are pendulous catkins. The female flowers are sessile, growing near the tips of new shoots, producing acorns 1.2–2.3 cm long and 1.2–1.5 cm broad, in broad, bushy-scaled cups; the acorns mature between September and October. The plant can grow up to 25 cm tall. Native to China, Korea and Japan and extensively cultivated in Asia, habitats of sweet oak include hills and low mountains (usually found from between 50 to 3,500 meters in elevation). Characteristics of sweet oak include tolerance for drought, adaptation to barren land, ability to withstand cultivation at altitudes over 3,000 meters above sea level.

Other simplified Chinese names for sweet oak include: 波罗栎, 槲叶, 槲皮, 槲叶, 槲实, 槲栎, 朴樕, 大叶栎, 栎橿子, 槲实仁.

1.2 How do I tell if my sweet oak acorns are ripe?

Sweet oak acorns start to ripen when turning brown and drop early in the fall. Most ripe sweet oak acorns are found in September or October, depending on the weather.

This is what sweet oak looks like. (Image source: Xi Gou Yue)

1.3 How is sweet oak used in traditional Chinese medicine?

The bark and seeds of sweet oak are considered to have bitter and astringent properties and to be associated with the lung and large intestine meridians. It is used as astringent, hemostatic (stops bleeding drug) and analgesic in traditional Chinese medicine (CTM) and widely adopted in treating different diseases and health problems, such as hematochezia (blood in stool).

2. Uses, Health Benefits of Sweet Oak & Medical Formulas

2.1 Used For Food

Like other acorns, the seeds of sweet oak taste bitter because they contain a high level of tannins, a yellowish or brownish bitter-tasting organic substance. But the tannins can be leached out by thoroughly washing the seed in running water, after washing the sweet oak acorns which is rich in starch can be used as a thickening in stews etc or mixed with cereals for making bread. The roasted seed may also serve as a coffee substitute.

2.2 Bleed Stopping

[CTM Formula] A decoction of sweet oak leaves is taken orally to treat sudden onset of hematemesis.

[CTM Formula] Juice extracted from sweet oak leaves is taken orally to treat hematochezia (blood in stool).

2.3 Pain Relieving

[CTM Formula] A decoction of powdered sweet oak leaves and white onion is taken orally before meal to relieve penile pain associated with burning, itching, painful urination, discharge, or blood in the urine.

2.4 Skin Health

[CTM Formula] A decoction of sweet oak leaves can be used in washing as an adjuvant treatment approach for patients with bromhidrosis (also known as bromidrosis or body odor).

2.5 Chronic Diarrhea

[CTM Formula] Powdered sweet oak tree bark and dried ginger are taken orally with rice soup to help with chronic diarrhea (loose stools that last for at least four weeks).

The Ben Cao Medical Book (also known as Compendium of Materia Medica or Ben Cao Gang Mu; Chinese: 本草纲目) is the most famous and comprehensive medical book ever written in the history of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Compiled and written by Li Shi-zhen (1518~1593), a medical expert of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) over 27 years.

The Ben Cao Medical Book records and describes all the plants, animals, minerals, and other objects that were believed to have medicinal properties in TCM. The book reflects the pharmaceutical achievements and developments of East Asia before the 16th century. On the basis of his predecessors’ achievements in the pharmacological studies, Li contributed further by supplementing and rectifying many past mistakes and misconception in relate to nature of many medicinal substances and causes of various illnesses. Charles Darwin, originator of the biological theory of evolution, regards the book as the “ancient Chinese encyclopedia”.

Disclaimer: The Ben Cao Medical Book is translated by ChinaAbout.net. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of CTM knowledge and information from the research and experience from the author Li Shi-zhen. Kindly be alert that the CTM knowledge and ancient formulas given above are likely NOT medically proven and may contain misconceptions.

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