Dr Gunter explains that an oak gall is formed when a wasp makes a hole in the bark of an oak tree and deposits larvae there. The tree, in response, produces gallic and tannic acids which form around the larvae and create a ‘nut’. When the larvae is grown, it drills its way out of the oak gall and into the world.
These leftover nuts are now for sale as a ‘traditional’ medicinal treatment for all sorts of things, including to ‘restore elasticity’ after childbirth, improve sex lives, and even treat dental symptoms like toothache.
Dr Gunter, writing on her blog, describes how this is, in fact, a terrible idea.
‘This is a dangerous practice with real potential to harm,’ she writes.
One of the qualities of a ground-up gall nut is that it acts an an astringent - which means it has drying qualities.
The product claims this is a good thing - helping ‘tighten’ the vagina.
Dr Gunter, however, disagrees:
‘Drying the vaginal mucosa increases the risk of abrasions during sex (not good) and destroys the protective mucous layer (not good). It could also wreak havoc with the good bacteria.’
The practice could also cause women to experience pain during sex, and even increase the risk of HIV transmission.
She ends with a sentence she never expected to have to write:
‘So don’t put dried up wasp’s nest in your vagina. I feel pretty confident in offering that up as medical advice.’