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Oats – Nourishment for Body & Mind

Oct 11, 2021 | Holistic Nutrition - Food is Medicine | 0 comments

Oats are truly a remedy for our modern time. We live in a culture that promotes stress. We eat a diet that stresses our bodies. We do not sleep enough. Everyday life is filled with “to do” lists and not enough time in nature.  In herbal medicine, oats are considered to be one of the revered nerve trophorestorative plants. While some plants have a broad, versatile effect on the body, oats are a more specific remedy. Milky Oats seedMilky oats remedy is made from the same plant as your breakfast cereal oats, but from different parts of the plant and in different growth cycle stages. The seeds are harvested before they are fully ripe in the short period of time when they exude milky latex compound, after which they are named. The straw is harvested when it is silvery green and known to be rich in minerals.  Milky oats are the green; immature plant tops harvested right when they begin to exude a milky liquid when pressed between the fingers. This stage lasts approximately one week and happens after the oat begins flowering and before the seed hardens and becomes mature oat grains.  I prefer to grow one bed for the seeds and another for the straw and harvest the straw right before seeds are formed when the vital energy in the straw is at its peak. I know of herbalists who harvest the straw after they harvest the seed when the straw is yellow and dry.

History and lore:

Illustration of oat plantsThe nutritive value of whole-grain oats has been recognized for thousands of years. Early records provide evidence for both a nutritional and a medicinal basis for oat utilization—documents of oat cultivation date back to the Early Bronze period, about 2000 B.C.E. According to Findlay (1956), the first records on oat usage described their medicinal properties. The authors included Hippocrates (∼460–360 B.C.E.), Dieusches (∼400 B.C.E.), Dioscorides (first century C.E.), and Galen (130–200 C.E.). Dioscorides in his De Materia Medica referred to the use of oats as a poultice for the skin, the porridge for binding the intestines, and a cream for those troubled with a cough, a cough reliever, and natural food for horses that humans consumed when food was scarce. (Dioscorides 2000) Pliny the Elder (first-century c.e.) considered oats a pest or weed that showed up in wheat and barley fields when depleted. In his book “The Natural History,” he records oat consumption by humans and animal feed by the German tribes in times of famine. (Bostock et.al 1999)

Psychological Profile:

Milky oats are for or people that are burned out—wavering of the mind. Have a hard time focusing, scattered mind, or overwhelmed—a lot of “what if..” that stresses them out—negative thinking in a loop. The mind is ungrounded and is not connected to the heart.  Milky oats are for overdriven workaholics that push themselves too hard. It is for people who tend to burn the candle on both ends. 

Herbalist Jim Mcdonald describes the “Milky Oats person.” “The mental state associated with a need for Milky Oats is one of anxiety and exhaustion. Though there is a lingering feeling of things that must get done, there seems to be no energy with which to do it; linear thinking is hard, focusing on one thing is hard. Simple tasks seem overwhelming. Men may find that their sex drive has dried up; women may find that this same feeling is compounded by difficult menses. Sleep is usually troubled… maybe, for example, the person stays up late because they don’t feel like they’ve accomplished enough, even if they don’t know what else it is they want to accomplish before going to bed. Often, all this has been precipitated by a period of (or predisposition to) intense overwork, without adequate time given to rest and recuperation. People requiring Oats are often “driven” people; perfectionists who always get things done, usually at their own expense. As mentioned above, it could also be that one has spent too much time stoned, and leans heavily on addictions to keep them going. This does not only mean overuse of marijuana, but stimulants, Coffee, Opiates, Tobacco… anything that either keeps the motor going or simulates real rest by forcing the body to shut down. In a nutshell, if you feel like you’ve “bottomed out”, are unable to put things together to achieve your goals, dreams or aspirations, or feel overwhelmed at the thought of trying to break out of habits and/or addictive behaviors, Milky Oats are a must for a long term herbal regimen.” (Mcdonald n.d)

The eclectic considered milky oats a supreme remedy for nervous debility either because of stress or disease such as diphtheria or typhoid (Ellingwood 1919, Felter 1898) Milky oats is for people who are depleted after a long illness or for people who do not get enough sleep. Long-period mental strain (students), overwork, jetlag.Milky oats do not take the stress away, but it helps strengthen the nervous system, build resilience, and promote a calmer disposition. It is a great herb to use alongside therapy or life coach. 

The 4th week in Aging with Grace: The Wise Women Way to Holistic Wellness in any Age, is devoted to learning how to manage your stress using herbs and mindfulness practices.


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Disclaimer: This document is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. I am not providing medical, psychological, or nutrition therapy advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your own medical practitioner. Always seek the advice of your own medical practitioner and/or mental health provider about your specific health situation. You can view my full disclaimer here.

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