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Plant Family: 



Habitat & Cultivation: 

Oat spread from the middle east to Europe, then was brought to the USA. Apparently, it can grow in many different climates.  It is mostly grown in Russia, Canada, US, Australia, near the Baltic Sea, Sweden, Finland, Poland and Germany (Oatstraw).  Oats do grow in Washington state, they are not being grown as a staple crop at this time but was in the 1950s.  I could not find any information about oats growing in the wild in the state.


Parts Used/Collection:

Milky oat seed

Medicinal use (nervine action) is most often derived from the seeds, although the whole plant (leaves/stems) can be utilized (Hoffman, 2003).


“Oatstraw” refers to the leaves, stalks, and stems (aboveground) parts of Avena sativa (ABC, 2000). These parts are rich in “minerals and trace nutrients including iron, calcium, magnesium, silica, phosphorus, chromium, and vitamins A, B, and C” (WishGarden, 2017). “Milky oat” refers to oat seeds that are immature, green, and fresh (WishGarden, 2017). They release a “white, milky sap when squeezed” (Herbal Academy, 2014). This stage “lasts approximately one week … after the oat begins flowering and before the seed hardens and becomes the oat grain we eat as oatmeal” (Herbal Academy, 2014).

Herbal Actions: 

  • Milky Oats

    • tonic

    • nervine

    • relaxant

    • stimulant

    • antispasmodic

    • anti-depressant

    • nutritive

    • endocrine restorative

  • Oatstraw

    • Nervine tonic

    • Antidepressant

    • Nutritive

    • Demulcent

    • Vulnerary

  • Oatmeal

    • Vulnerary

    • Relaxant



  • Indications of Avena sativa include: nerve tonics, stimulants, and antispasmodic.  Certain disorders affecting the nervous system and are associated w/exhaustion, cardiac weakness,or swelling.  Avena sativa can be indicated in individuals experiencing paralysis, weakness, nerve issues, or debilitation (especially those conditions related to aging).  Over an extended period of time, Avena sativa can enhance stamina and strength. It can also be indicated for children or adults with hyperactive personalities inability to focus or concentrate.



  • Use with caution in those with celiac or known gluten sensitivity due to avenin content .


Plant Constituents: 

  • Mucilage & Starch

  • Triterpenoid saponins (avenocosides)

  • Proteins (avenins)

  • Indole alkaloids (gramine)

  • Silicic acid esters

  • Nutrients and Minerals

  • Flavonoids


System Affinities:

  • Nervous System



  • Warming 

  • Moistening



No known contraindications for Avena sativa during pregnancy or lactation. The only possible contraindication I was able to find was avoiding use of Avena sativa when there is a known gluten sensitivity or intolerance.



Personal Experience:





ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs. New York, NY: American Botanical Council. Accessed online at


American Herbal Pharmacopoeia. (1999). Scotts Valley, CA: American Herbal Pharmacopoeia.


Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Healing Arts Press: Vermont.


Herbal Academy. (2014). Oats Benefits: Getting To Know Avena Sativa. Accessed online at


Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2005). The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety. Philadelphia: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.






Oats (Avena sativa)

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