Avena sativa (Oats)

Most of us have eaten Oats for breakfast. But did you know they are a potent medicine added to a Herbalist's repertoire? 

On Greenmedinfo (2017) Oats have 55 study abstracts showing they have therapeutic effects for hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia, obesity and diabetes type II. 

Its main actions are:

Oat seeds blowing in the wind

Oat seeds blowing in the wind

·         Nervine (Used to calm the nerves)

·         Anti-depressant (Enhances mood)

·         Sedative (Promotes calm)

·         Nutritive (Nourishing to the body, tissues and organs)

Avena sativa is well known for effects on cholesterol but it also has value for patients with ADHD. By exhibiting a calming effect on hyperactivity in children it calms the nervous system. 

As a nutritive tonic it contains more than 20 polyphenols and avenanthramides which have all been shown to provide potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activity in vivo and in vitro (Meydani, 2009). Oats are a wonderful addition to a herbal or nutritional protocol for elderly patients who struggle with sleep and mood related issues. 

The daily dose of Avena sativa seed is 1-2 teaspoons for a tea. In tincture form 1-2ml/day of a fluid extract or 1-5ml/day of 1:5 extract is normal (Bartram, 1995, 315).

Avena sativa appears to have no restriction on its long term use. Mills and Bone (2013, 276) state that long-term therapy with trophorestoratives is generally normal.

In clinical practice I find Avena sativa used as a tincture is fantastic for a burnt out nervous system. Patients who exhibit anxiety and depression attributed to drug abuse from prolonged exposure to stimulants such as MDMA and amphetamine respond very quickly to having Oats in their tincture. Thus proving how potent a medicine Oats really can be to somebodies nervous system. 


I often ask patients with diabetes II to include Oats at breakfast as a healthy start to the day. Keeping blood sugars from spiking is key alongside other herbal treatment for diabetes II. Oats provide a much healthier start to the day over a wheat based cereal. 



Bartram, T. (1995) Bartrams’s Encyclopaedia of Herbal Medicine, London, Robinson.

Greenmedinfo (2017) Oats [Online] Available at:http://www.greenmedinfo.com/substance/oats [Accessed 27th October 2017].

Meydani, M. (2009) Potential health benefits of avenanthramides of oats, Nutrition Reviews, Dec; Vol. 67(12): p. 731-735.

Mills, S. Bone, K. (2013) Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy Modern Herbal Medicine, 2nd Edition, London, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.


Jonny Woodall
Medical Herbalist and Flower Essence Therapist
Bsc (Hons) Herbal Medicine
National Institute of Medical Herbalists

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