Avena sativa, A. fatua
Other Names: Grain, Groats, Oatmeal, Straw
Oats, known scientifically as Avena sativa, are a hardy cereal grain able to withstand poor soil conditions in which other crops are unable to thrive.
Oats have been cultivated for two thousand years in various regions throughout the world.
Before being consumed as a food, oats were used for medicinal purposes, a use for which they are still honored.
Oats as an Herb for Medicinal Uses
The medicinal parts are the fresh or dried above-ground plant, the ripe, dried fruits, and the dried, threshed leaf and stem.
Oats are made into "gruel" by boiling 1 ounce of oatmeal or groats in 3 pints of water until reduced to 1 quart, then strain. Add sugar, lemon, wine, or raisins for flavoring. The nutritive quality of oats is less in a given weight than that of any other cereal grain.
Oats provide a special and healthful type of fiber (beta-glucan) in the diet. Since 1963, study after study has proven the beneficial effects of this special fiber on cholesterol levels. Studies show that in individuals with high cholesterol (above 220 mg/dl), consuming just 3 grams of soluble oat fiber per day (an amount found in one bowl of oatmeal) typically lowers total cholesterol by 8 to 23 percent.
Starting your day with a bowl of oatmeal may boost your immune function response in addition to your morning energy levels. In laboratory studies reported in surgery, the beta-glucan found in oats significantly enhanced the human immune system's response to bacterial infection.
Studies also show that beta-glucan has beneficial effects in diabetes as well. Type 2 diabetes patients given foods high in this type of oat fiber or given oatmeal or oat bran rich foods experienced much lower rises in blood sugar compared to those who were given white rice or bread.
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine confirms that eating high fiber foods, such as oats, helps prevent heart disease.
Oats are a traditional food for those recovering from an illness. Oat grasses are also used in treatments for stress and anxiety, as well as to nourish and restore nerves and reproductive organs in both men and women and as an antispasmodic.
Oats made into packs and pastes clear up many skin disorders, such as acne.
A tincture, or the powdered extract, is helpful for recovering from addiction and may also help cravings for nicotine. It is also recommended as a nerve restorative (oat straw) when trauma or nerve weakness is evident. One dropperful of the liquid extract or 1 tablet of the concentrated extract taken 2 or 3 times daily for an extended period is required for effectiveness.
To make a tea, 3 gm drug is boiled in 250 ml water, which is strained after cooling. The tea is taken repeatedly throughout the day and shortly before going to bed.
In folk medicine, wild oat herb preparations are used for many purposes, including acute and chronic anxiety, atonia of the bladder and connective tissue, connective tissue deficiencies, excitation, gout, kidney ailments, old age symptoms, opium and tobacco withdrawal treatment, rheumatism, skin diseases, sleeplessness, stress, weakness of the bladder, and as a tonic and roborant. The efficacy for the claimed applications is not documented.
Homeopathic Uses: Oats are used in homeopathy for exhaustion and insomnia.
The fruit is used in homeopathy and in combination preparations.
Unproven Uses: Oat preparations are used for diseases and complaints of the gastrointestinal tract, gallbladder and kidneys, for cardiovascular disorders, constipation, diabetes, diarrhea, physical fatigue, rheumatism, and as a gruel for chest and throat complaints. The claimed efficacy has not been fully substantiated.
Oat Straw is used a comminuted herb for decoctions and other galenic preparations as teas and bath additives.
To make oat straw bath, 100 g chopped drug is boiled with 3 liters water for 20 minutes and the decoction is added to the bath. 100 g of herb is used for one full bath.
Oat Straw is approved by Commission E for treating inflammation of the skin and warts.
Unproven Uses: The drug is employed externally for seborrheic skin disorders, especially those accompanied by itch. Oat straw is used for abdominal fatigue, bladder and rheumatic disorders, eye ailments, frostbite, gout, impetigo and metabolic diseases. It is used in foot baths for chronically cold or tired feet. It is also used as a tea for fluand coughs.
Culinary Uses of Oat
The many methods of processing oats make this grain suited to a wide array of culinary uses. Important ingredient of breakfast cereals, breads, cakes, cookies and muesli snacks.
When whole oats are steamed, then pressed flat with large rollers, they become rolled oats. These come in several varieties. When no more processing is done, they are Old Fashioned Oatmeal, and are great for making granola bars. When oats are pressed thinner than is usually done for old-fashioned oatmeal, then cut into smaller pieces with no additional cooking, the result is quick-cooking oatmeal.
No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages.
Avoid oats if you suffer Celiac disease (gluten intolerance).
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