Oats | Avena sativa | Herb | Herbal Remedy

Oats, Avena sativa, Herb, Herbal Remedy

Avena sativa Poaceae

Grown in all temperate regions if the world, oats are an important cereal crop. Long, slender leaves grow along stalks, which can reach a height if around 1.5m. Clusters if flowers are followed by the tiny ears that enclose the seeds, or grain.

Parts used

  • Seeds (grain) and stems
  • After harvesting, which takes place in late summer, the seeds and stems are dried.
  • The grain is removed from the husk and pressed, then used along with the dried stalks in infusions, extracts and tinctures, as well as in skincare products and sun creams.


Oat grains contain vitamins Bb Bs and E, the minerals calcium, iron, manganese and zinc, a soothing oil and a small quantity of alkaloids. The stems also contain flavonoids.

Medicinal uses

Herbalists have long used oats to help ease indigestion and to soothe the intestinal inflammation associated with diarrhoea. This antiinflammatory action, probably due to the flavonoids, can also bring relief from rheumatism and gout.

In the ancient world oats were used to treat skin problems such as boils and impetigo; and recent clinical trials in France have confirmed its efficacy for combating skin problems.
Oats are now widely used in cosmetics as its vitamin B2 content can promote healthy skin and its vitamin E and oil are moisturisers.

Furthermore, oats have been shown to lower cholesterol. In a study in Mexico, men given oatenriched cookies over an eight-week period showed around a 26 per cent drop in their cholesterol levels.

Vitamin B5 is known for its ability to combat depression, stress, and fatigue, and alkaloids are said to soothe the nerves. Their presence in oats may be why they are frequently prescribed for a whole range of minor nervous problems and as a general tonic. In controlled trials, athletes placed on an oat-based diet demonstrated an approximately 4 per cent increase in stamina.


Oats are not toxic and have no adverse side effects but they can cause flatulence and more frequent bowel movements. When eating them, it is advisable to drink plenty of water.

Like many other cereals, oats are rich in gluten and therefore should be avoided by people suffering from coeliac disease.


For internal use

TO TREAT stress, insomnia, minor nervous problems, rheumatism, gout
INFUSION Put 3g of dried plant into 250ml of boiling water. Infuse for 5 minutes. Strain. Drink 3-4 cups a day. For insomnia drink 1 cup before going to bed.

TINCTURE (1:5 in 45% alcohol) Take 20 drops in a glass of warm water, two or three times a day.

LIQUID EXTRACT Take 10-30 drops in hot water, before going to bed.

For external use

TO TREAT skin ailments COMPRESS Make up the infusion described above, and soak a clean cloth with it. Apply this to the affected area. DECOCTION Put 20g of dried plant into 1 litre of water. Allow to boil for 3 minutes, then leave for 10-20 minutes. Strain, then use added to bathwater. This is also effective when feeling weary and in need of a tonic.



Sow the seeds in spring in well-composted, well-drained soil in a sunny position.


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