This slender grain is a member of the Grasses, or Graminaceae. It grows quickly and thickly, making an effective cover-crop to choke out other weeds, and matures into graceful nodding ‘oats’ after a few months of sun and rain to nourish it. We harvest the grain before it is quite mature, or hardened: when you squeeze the little oat, a drop or two of milky white juice should exude. This is the perfect time for harvest and fresh processing or drying. Oats do well in almost any type of soil, but grow more abundant and luxuriant if given appropriate fertility.
Elemental associations: Earth(dry oats, straw); Water(milky tops)
Phytochemistry: Polysaccharides, sterols, saponins, B-vitamins
Actions: Nervine tonic, anti-inflammatory, relaxant
Specific systems: Nervous, respiratory, endocrine, connective tissue
Oats are our best nervine tonic available, meaning they should always be considered in cases of ‘disturbed nervous system [liver] qi’ and ‘shen’ (spirit), restlessness, anxiety, depression, and even insomnia. They are both gently relaxing and deeply nourishing, providing the nutrients necessary for the adequate re-building of damaged nervous tissue (although some will argue this is impossible). If agitation / anxiety are coupled with adrenal exhaustion, Oats can be invaluable.
Consider this herb if there is systemic inflammation, particularly of the lungs or skin, as it gently lubricates and provides the needed moisture with its soothing power. It can be therefore used as an adjunct to liver remedies in cases of acne, eczema, and other skin disturbances, especially if there is a nervous system component as well. Additionally, this is a great remedy for some of the symptoms of menopause, especially if there is anxiety and/or vaginal dryness to be addressed.
Oats can be a helpful tonic and rebuilder for any type of convalescence, but are especially useful in cases where there has been damage to tendons, ligaments or connective tissue.
Indications: Nervous system imbalance, anxiety, depletion, generalized inflammation, peri-menopausal symptoms
Contraindications: None whatsoever – except allergies to wheat gluten.
Preparation/Dosage: Tea of the milky tops is the ideal form: infuse 6 TBS of oat tops (fresh or dry) in a quart of water, left overnight. Strain in the morning and drink throughout the day. A tincture can be made from the fresh milky tops, 50% alcohol, 1:3 to 1:5. Take ½ teaspoon three times daily. Finally, oatmeal itself (if made from good quality, organic rolled oats) is a good tonic, too. Add this herbal food to the breakfast regimen for chronically depleted, ‘nervy’ people.