This is the well-known fruit of our British Oak, to which tree it gives the name– Aik, or Eik, Oak.
The Acorn was esteemed by Dioscorides, and other old authors, for its supposed medicinal virtues. As an article of food it is not known to have been habitually used at any time by the inhabitants of Britain, though acorns furnished the chief support of the large herds of swine on which our forefathers subsisted. The right of maintaining these swine in the woods was called “panage,” and formed a valuable property.
The earliest inhabitants of Greece and Southern Europe who lived in the primeval forests were supported almost wholly on the fruit of the Oak. They were described by classic authors as fat of person, and were called “balanophagi”–acorn eaters.
During the great dearth of 1709 the French were driven to eat bread of acorns steeped in water to destroy the bitterness, and they suffered therefrom injurious effects, such as obstinate constipation, or destructive cholera.
It is worth serious notice medically that in years remarkable for a large yield of Acorns disastrous losses have occurred among young cattle from outbreaks of acorn poisoning, or the acorn disease. Those up to two years old suffered most severely, but sheep, pigs and deer were not affected by this acorn malady. Its symptoms are progressive wasting, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, sore places inside the mouth, discharge from the eyes and nostrils, excretion of much pale urine, and no fever, but a fall of temperature below the normal standard. Having regard to which train of symptoms it is fair to suppose the acorn will afford in the human subject a useful specific medicine for the marasmus, or wasting atrophy of young children who are scrofulous. The fruit should be given in the form of a tincture, or vegetable extract, or even admixed (when ground) sparingly with wheaten flour in bread. The dose should fall short of producing any of the above symptoms, and the remedy should be steadily pursued for many weeks.
The tincture should be made of saturated strength with spirit of wine on the bruised acorns, to stand for a fortnight before being decanted. Then the dose will be from twenty to thirty drops with water three or four times a day.
The Acorn contains chemically starch, a fixed oil, citric acid, uncrystallizable sugar, and another special sugar called “quercit.”
Acorns, when roasted and powdered, have been sometimes employed as a fair substitute for coffee. By distillation they will yield an ardent spirit.
Dr. Burnett strongly commends a “distilled spirit of acorns” as an antidote to the effects of alcohol, where the spleen and kidneys have already suffered, with induced dropsy. It acts on the principle of similars, ten drops being given three times a day in water.
In certain parts of Europe it is customary to place acorns in the hands of the newly dead; whilst in other districts an apple is put into the palm of a child when lying in its little coffin.
Source: Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure, William Thomas FernieFiled under Ingredient | Tags: acorn, alcohol, dropsy, marasmus, oak, scrofula, spirit | Comment (0)