OATS (Avena sativa, cultivated, A. fatua, wild)

Family: Poaceae

Parts commonly used: Immature seed (milky-stage spikelets) and straw.

Properties/energetics: Nutritive tonic, neuro-restorative, antidepressant, demulcent, mildly stimulating, vulnerary/Warm, moist; sweet.

Systems predominantly affected:  Nervous, circulatory, reproductive, skin.

Uses: This is an important tonic for the large variety of persons caught up in recurrent energy draining or frequently frantic lifestyles. It is a custom-made nerve tonic for any individual who has recently crashed and burned, or feels he or she is in the process of doing so. Oat is a sweet energetic, nutritive, building tonic that strengthens the nervous system in people who overwork it and/or undernourish it, or who have been functioning on nervous energy for too long without replenishing their reserve. Oat is also good for those recovering from addiction to stimulants such as cocaine, caffeine, too much reality television, and so on. This is not a quick-fix drug, however. It helps an individual rebuild a healthy lifestyle and needs to be taken for one to six months, ideally in combination with American Ginseng (and Nettle seeds, if you harvested any last fall)— for those who have been kicking back a little too much and are coming off suppressants such as alcohol and nicotine, Skullcap is a more appropriate nerve tonic. Wild Oat is also useful for those experiencing heart palpitations, headaches, and/or low libido associated with nervous exhaustion.

Combinations: Combines well with all nervine herbs, whether compounded as a relaxant or as a stimulant, with Skullcap and Chamomile for treating melancholy and depression, and with Hawthorn as a cardiovascular tonic.

Affects on specific body types: Wild Oat is an excellent tonic to help any nervous and exhausted individual from burning out. It seems particularly suited for thin, nervous people who have little reserve, who have dark circles under their eyes not related to allergies, who even after a good night’s sleep are still tired and show poor capability to handle stress with loss of adaptability, and who are burning or have burned themselves out. Therefore, Wild Oat’s sweet, warm, moist energy is an excellent tonic for strengthening and balancing the cool, dry Seer constitution type and nourishing that type’s finely developed nervous system. It is probably one of the best ongoing remedies to help balance out the nervous fatigue that this constitutional type often flirts with.

Preparations/dosage: Infusion: 1 cup three times a day. Oat straw, rich in silica and calcium, is used to brew a mineral-rich tea taken internally and applied topically for beautifying complexion and treating skin conditions. Tincture: Best made with the fresh green seed, harvested while still in its milky stage. Take 20 to 50 drops three times a day. Other uses: The seed (in the form of groats or rolled oats) is used to make a highly nutritious porridge and gruel and is a muscle-strengthening food for domestic animals.

By James Green, Herbalist, copyright 2008

For more information please refer to James Green’s book, The Male Herbal, 2nd Edition