- Family Gramineae
- Avena sativa
- Oatmeal, Groats, Straw, Grain
- None listed.
Oats is a familiar annual grass, growing to three feet in height, producing straight hollow stems, bladelike leaves, and small spikes holding the seed grains. Native to northern Europe, it is now grown worldwide in temperate regions as a cereal crop. Its medicinal parts are harvested just before the height of the flowering season then quickly dried. (see more under Foods)
Oat straw has long been used to fill mattresses and for feeding animals. It eventually became food for humans and a benefit medicinally for rheumatism sufferers.
Culpeper stated, in 1652, that a poultice made from oat meal and the oil of bay helped the itch of leprosy.
But not all were fans of the plant. Earlier, in 1597, Gerard stated that oatmeal was only good for making “a fair and well-coloured maid to look like a cake of tallow.”
- mildly antidepressant
- silicic acid
- proteins (including gluten)
- vitamins (especially B vitamins),
- minerals (especially calcium)
- Seeds, straw (dried stems)
Today, oats is best known as a nutritious cereal. Its bran lowers cholesterol, and an oat-based diet raises stamina. It is a staple for the convalescent after a long illness.
Oats, and oat straw in particular, are a tonic when taken medicinally. Oat straw is prescribed by herbalists to treat general debility and a wide range of nervous conditions gently raising energy levels while supporting an over-stressed nervous system.
Oats are used to treat depression and nervous exhaustion, as well as profound lethargy that results from multiple sclerosis, chronic neurological pain, and insomnia. With insomnia, it is thought that oats stimulate sufficient nervous energy to make sleep possible.
Externally, oats are used as an emollient and an excellent skin cleanser with a balanced pH for sensitive skin or where conditions make it impossible to use commercial creams and soaps. A decoction added to a bath helps soothe skin itchiness, including such conditions as eczema.
They are used also for atonia of the bladder, connective tissue deficiencies, excitation, gout, kidney ailments, rheumatism, skin diseases, insomnia, stress, and bladder weakness.
Infusions of oat straw are used for flu and coughs.
Hot Oat Compress
- 1 tbsp. flaked oats
- 60 ml/4 tbsp. water, herb tea, or diluted tincture
- 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh or dried herb
- Put all the ingredients into a pan and bring to a boil over a very low heat. Stir until thickened and the moisture has been absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to stand for five minutes. Apply in a thick layer. Cover the area with plastic wrap and bandage into place. Herbs that can be used with oats are as follows:
– Chamomile acts as a calming antiseptic for skin irritations and inflammations.
– Parsley is good for arthritic pains and boils.
– Garlic and onions are good for infected areas.
- Makes 25 ml or 1 fl oz.
- 6 tsp. flaked oats
- 1 tsp. vegetable oil (extra virgin olive oil is best)
- 2 drops lavender essential oil (optional)
- Rub the oats to a fine powder and blend the oil in well. Press this mixture into a small jar.
- To use: Take a small amount of the mixture in your hand and work in a little water to a paste. Rub into the skin and rinse off with plenty of water. For a purifying mask: Smear the paste onto the skin and leave for twenty minutes. Rinse well and pat dry.