Habitat & Cultivation : Originally from northern Europe, oats are currently cultivated as a cereal crop in temperate regions across the globe. Harvesting typically takes place in late summer.
Parts Used : Seeds, straw (dried stems).
Constituents : Oats contain saponins, alkaloids, sterols, flavonoids, silicic acid, starch, proteins (including gluten), vitamins (especially B vitamins) and minerals (especially calcium).
History & Folklore : In the past, oat straw found use as mattress filling, particularly beneficial for individuals dealing with rheumatism. Nicholas Culpeper, in his work “The English Physitian” (1652), suggests that a poultice made from oatmeal and bay oil aids in addressing conditions like itch and leprosy. However, John Gerard, in 1597, expressed a less enthusiastic view, stating that oatmeal is good for making the complexion of a fair maid resemble a cake of tallow.
Medicinal Actions & Uses : Oats, renowned for their nutritional value as a cereal, offer various health benefits beyond their dietary aspects. Oat bran is recognized for its cholesterol-lowering properties, and adopting an oat-based diet has been linked to potential improvements in stamina, as indicated by research. Oats, especially oat straw, function as tonics in medicinal use. Medical herbalists often prescribe oat straw to address general debility and a diverse range of nervous conditions. Both oats’ grains and straw exhibit mild antidepressant qualities, gently elevating energy levels and providing support for an over-stressed nervous system. Oats are employed in the treatment of depression, nervous debility, and insomnia, particularly in individuals experiencing nervous exhaustion. Furthermore, oats serve as a prominent herbal aid during the convalescence period following an extended illness. On an external level, oat grains are emollient and cleansing, and a strained decoction added to a bath can assist in soothing itchiness and managing eczema.
Research : Studies conducted in Australia revealed that athletes following an oat-based diet for a duration of 3 weeks experienced a notable 4% improvement in stamina. Oats are believed to contribute to the preservation of muscle function during both training sessions and exercise.