Often described as "Nature's Viagra", Avena Sativa is soothing and calming to the nervous system, whilst at the same time increasing sexual desire in men and women. In men it is believed to increase luteinizing hormone levels. Luteinizing hormones are released by the pituitary gland and tell the testicles to produce more testosterone. It also stimulates the freeing up of bound testosterone, thus helping to balance the hormones necessary to support a healthy sex drive, sexual response and energy levels.
In women it is a tonic to the nervous system, making it good for recovering from exhaustion. Tradition holds it increases vaginal stimulation and advances the physical and emotional desires for sex. This effect is thought to be due to Avena Sativa’s ability to encourage blood circulation, a contributing factor to boosting sexual desire. Some traditions hold this herb in great regard for the relief of menstrual cramps and bloating.
Oat straw can help to fight inflammation – one of the primary causes of heart disease. It contains molecules called “avenanthramides” which help to reduce levels of inflammatory cytokines. When levels of cytokines are high, this can increase the risk diabetes and heart disease.
According to a Canadian study published in the “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition”, Avena Sativa helps to lower LDL cholesterol, due to the main components of the oat’s soluble fibre – beta glucan. This in turn can help to lower the risk of heart threatening blood clots whilst keeping the arteries flexible too.
Central Nervous System
In October 1987, the German Commission E stated that oat straw could be used as a nervine herb. The German government went on to commission oat straw as an effective remedy for anxiety and stress. Its soothing effect on the nervous system is thought to be due to the powerful vitamin B complex vitamins it contains. A number of cognitive enhancement effects have also been observed such as an increase in attention span, improved mental performance, relief from neurological pain and a reduction in anxiety.
Avena Sativa is rich in many bone-strengthening minerals, the most important of which is calcium. The calcium found in oat straw is organic and thereby easily assimilated into the body without any side effects and is significantly more effective than the inorganic forms found in some supplements.
Research also indicates oat straw as a preventative measure against osteoporosis. A study from 2000 which was published in “Integrative Herbal Communications” showed that this herb triggers the release of luteinizing hormones in rats. M Blumenthal, who led the study, said that this release leads to an overall hormone surge that stimulates cell growth. He says that this ability to stimulate cell growth makes oat straw a great herb for the building of bone strength.
Oat straw tea can be extremely beneficial when fighting addictions – especially to smoking and for nicotine withdrawal. An article from the 1970’s was published in the journal “Nature”, reporting of an Ayurvedic medical practitioner in India who had successfully treated both cigarette and opium addiction with oat straw.
Folklore and history
In folk medicine, oats were used to treat nervous exhaustion, insomnia, and "weakness of the nerves." Oat straw tincture and tea have long been used to treat conditions such as headaches, migraines, shingles and fatigue. There is also a long history of Avena Sativa having been used for the treatment of epilepsy.
In Europe, there is a tradition of using oat straw in baths as a treatment for rheumatism and painful muscles as well as for kidney problems.
According to Felter & Lloyd's Kings Dispensary from 1898: "Oats extracts rank among the most important restoratives for conditions depending upon nervous prostration, and for the nervous exhaustion consequent upon typhoid and other low fevers, and the accidental disorders arising from these complaints, as weak heart, insomnia, etc.
In enfeebled states of the heart muscle it acts as a good tonic to improve the energy of the organ, and is recommended to prevent relapsing cardiac rheumatism.
It has been much used as a remedy to assist the morphine-consumer to throw off the habit, and to sustain the nervous system while undergoing that ordeal."
Whilst many people are very familiar with common oats and their benefits, Oat Straw (Avena Sativa) is the green stem of the plant which has been passed down through generations as a herbal supporter of health – especially in women. It also has a reputation as an aphrodisiac for both men and women, with the saying “sowing your wild oats” thought to have originated with regard to this particular benefit of Avena Sativa!
Oat straw is amongst one of the oldest cultivated grains - the oldest known cultivated oats were found in caves in Switzerland and are believed to hail from the Bronze Age. This hardy plant is harvested during the milky oat stage, when it is still green. Oat Straw was (and still is), used to make corn dollies which feature in harvest rituals.
Oat Straw Herbal Tincture
1-3ml up to 3 times per day.
Seeds: 50% starch; alkaloids including trigonelline and avenine; saponins;flavones; sterols; vitamin B.
None known, however proceed with caution if sensitive to gluten (celiacs disease).