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Medicinal Herb: Oats (Avena sativa)

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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Content provided on this page is for informational purposes only. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any medical or health related diagnosis or treatment options. Information on this page should not be considered as a substitute for advice from a healthcare professional. The claims made about specific products throughout this article are not approved to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.


The common oat used in herbal supplements and foods is derived from wild species that have since been cultivated. For herbal supplements, the green or rapidly dried aerial parts of the plant are harvested just before reaching full flower. Oats are now grown worldwide.

There are about twenty-five varieties cultivated. The nutritive quality of Oats is less in a given weight than that of any other cereal grain. In the best Oats it does not exceed 75 per cent. Avena sativa, the Common Oat, has a smooth stem, growing up to 4 feet high, with linear lanceolate, veined rough leaves; loose striate sheaves; stipules lacerate; panicle equal, loose; spikelets pedunculate, pendulous, twoflowered, both perfect, lower one mostly awned; paleae cartilaginous, embracing the caryopsis; root fibrous, annual. The Naked or Pilcorn Oat differs slightly from the other: calyces three-flowered, receptacle exceeding the calyx; petals awned at the back; the third floscule awnless; and the chief difference lies in the grains, which when ripe quit the husk and fall naked. The grains as found in commerce are enclosed in their pales and these grains divested of their paleae are used for medicinal and dietary purposes; the grains when separated from their integuments are termed groats, and these when crushed are called Embden groats. Oatmeal is ground grain.



Biological Name:
Avena sativa


Other Names:
Oats, wild oats

Parts Used:
Seeds and whole plant

Active Compounds:

Proteins; prolamines known as avenins
C-glycosyl flavones
Avenacosides, which are spirostanol glycosides
Fixed oil, Vitamin E, starch.

In folk medicine, oats were used to treat nervous exhaustion, insomnia, and “weakness of the nerves.” A tea made from oats was thought to be useful in rheumatic conditions and to treat water retention. A tincture of the green tops of oats was also used to help with withdrawal from tobacco addiction. Oats were often used in baths to treat insomnia and anxiety as well as a variety of skin conditions, including burns and eczema.

Traditional Applications in Herbal Medicine:
Nervine tonic, anti-depressant, nutritive, demulcent, vulnerary.
Useful for:
    • anxiety
    • eczema
    • high cholesterol
    • high triglycerides
    • insomnia
    • nicotine withdrawal

One of the best remedies for feeding the nervous system, especially when under stress. Oats is considered a specific in cases of nervous debility and exhaustion when associated with depression. May be used with most of the other nervines, both relaxant and stimulatory, to strengthen the whole of the nervous system. Also used in general debility. The high levels of silicic acid in the straw is taken advantage of in its use as a remedy for skin conditions, especially in external applications.

Combinations : For depression it may be used with Skullcap and Mugwort.

Infusion: Pour a cup of boiling water to 1-3 teaspoonfuls of the dried straw and leave to infuse 10-15 minutes. Drink three times a day.

Tincture: take 3-5ml three times a day.

Bath: a soothing bath for use in neuralgia and irritated skin conditions can be made: 1 pound of shredded straw is boiled in 2 quarts of water for half an hour. The liquid is strained and added to the bath, or the cooked rolled oats may be put into a muslin bag and used to bath with.

Oats are not associated with any adverse effects. If you are suffering from gluten sensitivity (celiac disease), use oats with caution.

No other information available. Some herbs are known to react with your medication. Please consult your physician before starting on any herb.

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