The first time I heard about using Oats (Avena sativa) as a health tonic was a podcast by Susan Weed talking about reproductive health. She referenced this plant as the best herb for “staying juicy, increasing libido, and amping up performance in bed”. Naturally, I was intrigued.
The next time I placed an herb order I included a pound of oatstraw to take as a nourishing herbal infusion. I drank it regularly as an infusion for a few months and noticed increased calm, it helped reduce my tendency to binge eat when stressed, and I did actually notice an increase in libido :).
As I read more about it I learned why it can have that affect on people. It is high in minerals (especially calcium and magnesium) that nourish the nervous and endocrine systems. It is a tonic that builds over time and is especially helpful for people who are exhausted and overworked.
According to my research. Oatstraw infusion is indicated in people who have gone through a long period of overwork and can’t settle down. The symptoms can include irritability, chronic fatigue, anxiety and restlessness, inability to focus, mental fatigue and heart palpitations.
Nourishing the nervous system and endocrine system can bring joy and fullness back to someone who is depleted and oat straw is wonderful at this. At the UGArden, they are growing oats as a cover crop to add nutrients and biomass back into the soil after a season of veggie crops. Thankfully for us, they said we could harvest as much as we wanted.
First, we harvested oatstraw and oat tops to dry for tea and infusions.
For the oat tops, we spread them onto screens to dry.
For the oatstraw, we bundled the cuttings and hung them on a wire rack to dry.
The whole plant can be used. We will wait until they are completely dry and run them through a blender to break them up before packaging.
I also brought some oat tops and oatstraw home to dry for personal use. I set up my drying rack and screen in the office on a clean sheet under the fan to ensure good air circulation.
Another remedy that can be made from the oat plant is Milky Oat Tincture. The milky oat stage lasts for only 1 week and is evidenced by a milky white fluid that can be squeezed out of a bulging seed pod before the oat grain forms.
Tincture made from fresh milky oats has a stronger action than dried oatstraw tea/infusion. It is indicated for people who suffer from nervous exhaustion from stressful lifestyles, recovering from a stressful event (such as childbirth, or loss of a loved one), depression due to loss of energy, and for people with mentally taxing professions (like college students). It has been called ‘nerve food’ and builds up the nervous and endocrine systems. As a tonic, the effect builds over time and it’s action is best seen after 4-6 weeks of consistent use.
To harvest the milky oat tops, I raked my fingers up the stem to remove the pods. Every couple of plants I would check a few seed pods to make sure I was only getting the milky ones.
Then I made a 75% alcohol solution (menstrum) to make my tincture. The ratio is 1:2. 1 part plant matter to 2 parts menstrum. I measured out 16 oz of milky oat tops and added in 32 oz of menstrum. The main beneficial action comes from the milky substance inside the pods, so I put my oat tops in the blender to break them up.
It turned a bright lime green, however the milky pods were still intact. The blender was not strong enough.
I don’t have a vitamix, so I pulled out my trusty immersion blender.
It worked like a charm! You see the milky green color in the middle. That is what you want to see. It means the ‘milk’ has been released from the seed pods.
I finished blending and labeled the jar. Now I need to let it sit for 4-6 weeks, and the last step will be to strain out the plant matter. Out of all the herbal remedies that I have made in the last year, this is one I am most excited about. I have read so many wonderful things about milky oats tincture, I look forward to experiencing it myself.
I usually feel very depleted at the end of a semester. I can definitely identify with the feelings of nervous exhaustion, mental fatigue, restlessness and heart palpitations. Especially now with starting grad school earlier than expected. I am going to have to be proactive about incorporating nourishing herbal remedies like milky oats and oatstraw infusion into my life as well as relaxing into the moment and keeping my perspective positive. I will update you in a few months when I get more personal experience with this herbal remedy!