We're continuing our botanical journey today with one of the key herbs featured in our Sleepy Time Tea - Oat straw. Oat straw consists of the green, unripe leaves and stems from oat grass. If the plant is left to mature, the oat tops eventually develop into kernels, or oat groats, that we know and love as cereal grain. Sure, they may not be as beautiful as the mighty rose or calming chamomile we recently wrote blog articles on, but that doesn't make them any less impressive, medicinally speaking. So let's dive into it!
Family: Poaceae (grass family)
Latin Name: Avena sativa
Common Names: Cultivated oat, common oat, milky oat, oat grass, green oat
Parts Used: Seeds and whole plant
Energy & Flavours: Cooling, moistening, nourishing, with sweet and neutral flavours
Seeds: 50% starch; alkaloids including trigonelline and avenine; saponins; flavones; sterols; vitamin B.
Oat straw: Rich in silicic acid; mucin; calcium
Medicinal Actions: Nervine, nutritive, demulcent, vulnerary, bulk laxative (oat bran), mineralizer, sexual tonic, antispasmodic, anti inflammatory, anti irritant
Medicinal Preparations: food, tincture, tea/infusion, bath, creams/lotions, face mask, poultice
Habitat & Growing Conditions: The cultivation of oats dated back to at least 2000 B.C.E particular in warm Mediterranean regions. Today, oats are primarily grown in cool temperate climates in the northern hemisphere.
The History of Oat Straw: Oats have been around for centuries and have been consumed both as a whole plant food and in medicinal preparations. Porridges and gruels count amongst the first recorded meals and have been based around the stripping and cooking of the oat plant.
Indigenous peoples often used oats for the base of meals to increase the vitality and stamina of those consuming them regularity. Oats were also used to remedy mental and physical exhaustion, insomnia, digestive issues and to help regulate blood sugar levels.
Medicinal Uses: Oats make a fantastic “tonic” for the nervous system by strengthening and nourishing nerves that have been heavily depleted from stress. Oats are a wonderful ally for those who suffer from mental or physical exhaustion, especially when associated with depression.
Research shows that oat straw is a supportive tool in tobacco and alcohol cessation, breaking unhealthy habits, and can assist in convalescence. (Source) It can help to support shingles, herpes, multiple sclerosis, and to strengthen an overall weakened constitution.
Topically it is used to support a variety of skin irritations, itching from bug bites, blisters, and inflammation. There is also evidence to support the use of oat straw for impotence and sexual dysfunction, including vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse. Oat can contribute to the health of the reproductive system by releasing luteinizing hormone from the brain. (Source)
Food Uses: Oatmeal porridge or gruel is a popular cereal made from the grain, while oat straw can be used to infuse tea that soothes the nervous system, stabilizes blood sugar and nourishes the body.
Cosmetic Uses: Colloidal oats, which is simply oat flour produced by grinding oat kernels, is a very popular additive in skincare formulations for rashes, dry, sensitive, inflamed, itchy, or damaged skin.
Oats are emollient in nature, meaning that they can soften and soothe the skin. Adding colloidal oats to a bath produces milky water that gently cleanses while also moisturizing and protecting the skin. Adding oat flour to a warm bath will soothe rashes, itchy, or inflamed skin. Colloidal oats can also be added to face masks or body wraps for the same effects.
In skin care products, oat straw acts as a calming agent due to its soothing properties and rich silica content, making it perfect for sensitive skin formulations. Oat straw can also be used in shampoos and hair conditioners to import softness and shine to your hair and soothe itchy scalps. (Source)
Products we make featuring Oat Straw: As mentioned earlier, oat straw is one of the four ingredients in our Sleepy Time Tea, helping you to unwind at the end of a long hectic day. Oat straw is also features in our Moon Glow tea, which is a supportive blend for women during pregnancy and childbirth. The oat straw and other featured herbs in this blend are renowned for their nutritive properties, bursting with healthy vitamins and minerals to keep you nourished and glowing! Finally our Mermaid Sands Cleansing Grains is a daily cleanser that contains oat flour to nourish and pamper all skin types - even highly sensitive.
Safety Class: 1 (No known warnings, precautions or contraindications) Source: Botanical Safety Handbook Second Edition by American Herbal Products Association
Interaction Class: A (No known drug interactions) Source: Botanical Safety Handbook Second Edition by American Herbal Products Association
Pregnancy and Lactation: According to Botanical Safety Handbook Second Edition by American Herbal Products Association, no information on the safety of oat or wild oat in pregnancy or lactation was identified in the scientific or traditional literature. Although this review did not identify any concerns for use while pregnant or nursing, safety has not been conclusively established.
Sources: Sun God Medicinals, American Botanical Council, Henriette's Herbal Homepage, The Natural Beauty Workshop, The Modern Herbal Dispensatory by Thomas Easley, Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman, The Way of Herbs by Michael Tierra