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What Is Avena Sativa?
In latin Avena sativa means 'cultivated oats'. Its grains are an important food staple for people, as well as for animals. The stalk and leaves, which are cut and dried to make oat straw, are even more nutritious than the oats themselves. Avena sativa is one of the most prolific plants, growing wherever there are grassy plains, in North America, Asia, Europe, Australia, and South Africa.
Oats are well-known as a cholesterol-lowering food, as well as a good source of fiber; however, both the whole food and the herb have many more nutritive benefits. Oats and oat straw are rich in calcium, iron, phosphorous, the B-complex vitamins, vitamin E, and vitamin K. They are also a good source of potassium, magnesium, zinc, protein, and vitamins A and C, although drinking oat straw tea will provide more of these vitamins. The straw also has a high concentration of the trace mineral silica, which is responsible for many of the health benefits of oat straw tea.
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Oat Straw Tea
With its sweet, delicate flavor, it may be surprising to learn of the strengthening ability of oat straw. This herb fortifies not only the nerves, but also bones and teeth, the lungs, and the circulatory system. It supports the endocrine system, and stabilizes blood sugar levels. Oat straw nourishes the skin, hair, and nails. It is hard to turn away from the soothing promise of oat straw tea.
For any nervous disorder, oat straw tea can be used on a daily basis. It nourishes and rejuvenates the nerves, alleviating feelings of anxiety and stress, as well as emotional disturbances such as grief or exhaustion. Its nutritive content is a perfect cocktail for a weakened nervous system. Calcium, magnesium, zinc, and the B-complex vitamins all are necessary for mental well-being.
Through nerve support, this herb actually increases sensory sensitivity. It allows both the body and the mind to reach a state of calm relaxation. Combined with its promotion of a healthy endocrine system, allowing juices to flow easily and freely, oat straw has a reputation as an herbal love potion. It is not technically an aphrodisiac, but it does nourish the body, allowing it to thrive and enjoy life.
The health benefits of oat straw tea also extend to bone health. Not only is this plant rich in calcium, but also silica. This mineral, also known as silicon dioxide, is found in the bones, teeth, ligaments, and skin. Although there is at this time no research to validate the connection between Avena sativa and strong, healthy bones, oat straw has been used traditionally to support the skeletal system. Its silica content, combined with its soothing mucilage content also relieve joint inflammation. The saponins in oats and oat straw provide softness for cells, allowing them to release excess fluid and relax. Because of their soapy texture, saponins also help to remove cholesterol and toxins from the blood, improving the health of the circulatory system.
To make oat straw tea, infuse two teaspoons of the dried herb for every one cup of water. Drink one to four cups a day, for as long as you like. Oat straw tinctures are also available; simply dilute twenty drops in water or juice, one to two times a day.
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Oat Straw Bath
Drinking the herbal infusion is a soothing experience, but taking an oat straw bath can greatly enhance the health benefits of oat straw. A bath is particularly useful for nourishing the skin. The mucilage and silicon content once again work to moisturize and cleanse cells. For serious, or chronic problems that call for oat straw therapy, use both the tea and the bath. Long-term nervous disorders, varicose veins from poor circulation, very dry skin, and arthritis will all benefit significantly from a combined treatment.
Use a strong oat straw tea infusion to make a medicinal bath. Infuse three ounces of the herb for every two quarts of boiling water. Add the infusion to bath water and soak for at least twenty minutes.
Other than its gluten content for those who have a gluten allergy, there are no side effects of the Avena sativa plant, so it can be enjoyed all day. Eat a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, drink a cup of oat straw tea in the afternoon, and take a therapeutic bath in the evening. We all can benefit from the healing qualities of oats.
Hoffmann, David. "The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies" (Element Books, 1996).
Weed, Susan. "Healing Wise" (Ash Tree Publishing, 1989).
photo by Phil Dubois
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