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Avena sativa

Avena sativa                   

Common name: Oats, Milky Oat Seed

Family: Poaceae

Parts used:

  • Aerial (milky oat seed tops and/or straw)


  • Carbohydrates: Mucilage (β-glucan), Starch (60%), Mono & oligosaccharides
  • Triterpenoid saponins (avenocosides) & sterols (sitosterol, stigmasterol)
  • Proteins (avenins)
  • Indole alkaloids (gramine & avenanthramides)
  • Nutrients (high source of Vitamin E (tocopherols and tocotrienols) & B, iron, manganese, zinc, calcium, silicon and selenium), choline and phosphatidylcholine
  • Flavonoids

Medicinal actions:

  • Antioxidant
  • Antispasmodic
  • Cardiotonic
  • Nervine Tonic
  • Nutritional
  • Vulnerary (Demulcent & Emollient)




Medicinal use:

  • Overall is a nervous system trophorestorative, is nutritive in cases of debility from anxiety, depression & fatigue. Taken over time will increase one’s stamina and strength. Will “feed” the nervous system especially when under stress, and is specific in cases of nervous debility and exhaustion, especially when associated with depression, insomnia, and “weakness of the nerves”.  Has been given to help with addiction withdrawals (e.g. opium, tobacco).
  • Considered to also have antispasmodic, demulcent, diuretic, and vulnerary actions and is useful in rheumatic conditions. Often used in baths as an emollient and to treat insomnia and anxiety as well as in a variety of skin conditions, including burns and eczema.


  • High nutrient content (e.g silica & minerals) has connective tissue restorative qualities for bones, muscles, tendons & nerves and lends its use as a remedy for skin condition, especially in external applications.
  • Extract has shown ability to inhibit the enzymes monoamine oxidase-B (MAO-B) and phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE 4), resulting in an inhibition of the degradation of monoamine neurotransmitters and the cellular second messenger cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), suggesting a wide range of potential effects within the brain relevant to cognitive function and mood, such as  increased dopaminergic function to cerebral vasodilation.
  • β-glucans have proven to help in lowering cholesterol.
  • High starch and silica content acts as a demulcent, emollient and vulnerary, being incredible healing to the skin.
  • Triterpenoid saponins (avenocosides) may act as precursors to steroidal hormones and are anti-fungal.
  • High nutrient content is partly responsible for sedative action on the nervous system (has the highest content of iron, zinc and manganese of all grain species). Is theorized to stimulate the limbic system and motor ganglia, thereby increasing energy levels and one’s sense of well-being, and indole alkaloids (gramine) have relaxant properties.


  • Infusion: 1 Tbsp/cup water; steep until at room temperature.  Drink freely throughout the day.
  • Tincture: (1:5, 40%), 1-5 ml TID, 100 ml/week.
  • Bath: Add 1 heaping cup to bath water.
  • Topical in creams, lotions, oils and poultices.


  • Potential for hypersensitivity in some individuals.


  • Use caution in those with celiac or known gluten sensitivity (theoretical).


  • None reported.



  • Find a complete list of references for this monograph as well as images and a review of its evidence based applications in Dr. Marciano’s Herbal Textbook.


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