Oats: The Humble Yet Powerful Ally

Common Name

Oats, Oatstraw, Common Oats, Wild Oats, Milky Oats, Oat Tops, Cat Grass 


Latin Name

Avena sativa (common cultivated oats), Avina fatua (wild oats) 



Poaceae (Graminaceae) 


Parts used

Seeds and stems 



Neutral, moistening, sweet, yin and qi tonic 


Medicinal Properties

Nutritive nerve tonic, gentle relaxant/stimulant, demulcent, emollient, mild cardio-tonic, mild antidepressant, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, aphrodisiac 

Avena sativa has so many wonderful uses and is likened to the warm hug you get from mom in its ability to soothe, nourish, and calm the nervous system but also allows you to let go of unwanted behaviors that might be picked up in an effort to cope with stress and exhaustion. Michael Moore describes Milky Oats as ‘crispy critter medicine’ which playfully captures that of whom has lived out in the world and has been overworked. 

Abundant with vitamins and minerals, protein, soluble fiber, beneficial oils, polysaccharides, steroidal saponins and more, Avena comes to us as a humble, abundant, but powerful healer, helping to nourish the skin, nails, teeth and hair, support elasticity in blood vessels and lower cholesterol. 

The seed and stem, also known as oatstaw, help to treat addiction, anxiety, ADD, bone cancer, broken bones, colds, constipation, convalescence, conclusions, Crohn’s disease, debility, erectile dysfunction, exhaustion, gout, headache, hemorrhoids, incontinence, infertility, insomnia, low libido, lupus, menopause systems, multiple sclerosis, nervous breakdown, nervousness, osteoporosis, paralysis, post-traumatic stress disorder, rheumatism, rickets, schizophrenia, shingles, stress, ulcers, varicose veins and withdrawal symptoms (from Tobacco, drugs or Alcohol).

Traditionally, Avena has been used as a trophorestorative, which means that its therapy lies in a more long term use in building and supporting the system in which it is working to restore.  In this case, that is for the nervous system and in particular, the autonomic and enteric (gastrointestinal) nervous systems that function involuntarily.  A person whose sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight), is consistently triggered over a long term basis will overall deplete the entire organ systems that give rise to the vital force.  This not only leads to higher blood pressure, atherosclerosis, insulin resistance, poor digestion, and insomnia due to cortisol dysregulation but also a person further on edge who might seek immediate fixes to help with the exhaustion and possible pain, thus potentially leading to addictions. As such, it is especially useful in recovery from illness, weakness, overwork, poor nutrition, chronic pain, sleep deprivation, insomnia, emotional distress, or just about any circumstance that excessively stresses and depletes the nervous system.

It is recognized in Wise Woman communities as a woman's ally, helping to balance her hormonal cycles and support her through pregnancy, birth, post partum recovery and the many stresses of mothering, while also beautifying her hair, skin, nails, and teeth, not to mention strengthening her bones. 

Externally, used as a poultice or in a bath, Avena offer relief from dry, itchy, irritated skin. Taking regular oat baths is thought to soften the skin, relax the muscles and nerves, and relieve aches and pains from the body. Ground oats also makes a lovely exfoliating facial scrub. With so many healing properties, from the skin to deep within, 

Medicinal Forms

  • Tea (infusion or decoction) of dried oatstraw or milky oat tops
  • Tincture of milky oat tops
  • Poultice of powdered plant or oatmeal
  • Bath with infusion or decoction, powdered oats or oatmeal in a muslin bag
  • Flower Essence (brings clarity and conviction to one's path in life)



Oat Decoction

4 Tbsp. Oatstraw, Oat Tops, or a combination of both

1 quart filtered water

Bring herbs and water to an ALMOST boil in a lidded pot. Lower to a simmer for 30 - 45 minutes. Turn off flame and let sit until cool enough to drink. Strain and sip throughout the day. 


Stress Recovery Blend

2 pt. Oatstraw, Oat Tops, or a combination of both

1 pt. each Nettles, Hawthorn Berry, Tulsi

1/2 pt. each Skullcap and Licorice root

Bring herbs and water to an ALMOST boil in a lidded pot. Lower to a simmer for 20 - 30 minutes. Turn off flame and let sit until cool enough to drink. Strain and sip throughout the day. This tea can also be made as a long infusion (2 - 8 hrs.). 



If you are allergic to gluten, the oat plant is often cross-contaminated with it in the field or while it is being processed.  A gluten allergy can cause symptoms such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, bone or joint pain, ADHD behavior, foggy mind, and chronic Fatigue.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published