The healthy nature of oats and oatmeal are pretty well-known. But there's a lesser known part of the plant called oatstraw that is used medicinally and has many healing benefits.
While the common oat is a popular cereal grain, oatstraw is valued by herbalists as a nutritious and restorative herb. If you suffer from fatigue, stress, or sleeplessness, oatstraw could become a healing ally for you.
Here's more about oatstraw, its benefits, and ways to use it for your health.
What Is Oatstraw?
Oatstraw comes from the same plant (Avena sativa) as the oats you would use to make oatmeal. Oats have been cultivated and eaten for thousands of years and used medicinally for just as long. (1)
When harvesting for cooking and culinary use, oat grains need to be golden and fully ripened.
When harvesting for medicinal use, the grains should be fully mature but still green. You can tell they are ready if the grains release a small amount of "milk" when pressed. Oats harvested as this stage are known as milky oats, which have their own medicinal uses. (2)
Oatstraw is the stalk of the plant that is harvested at the same time as the milky green tops. It's filled with nutrients just like the rest of the plant.
Although we typically think of oats as a crop grown by farmers, they are hardy plants that can be grown in a backyard garden. Today, oats are cultivated all around the world.
Nutritive Benefits of Oatstraw
Many of the benefits of oatstraw come from the nutrients and minerals contained in the green oat stalk.
Oatstraw is especially high in silicon, which is beneficial for skin, hair, nails, and bone health. (3)(4) It's also a good source of calcium, which is another nutrient essential for strong bones and teeth.
Other vitamins and nutrients include zinc, B vitamins, magnesium, iron, vitamin A, and protein.
The calcium content is beneficial for women going through menopause because calcium levels typically drop. In addition, it's beneficial for bone health, which is crucial for menopausal women. You'll find oatstraw in this Menopause Melody tea.
Oatstraw also has many benefits for pregnant and nursing women because it provides nutrients that are essential during these times.
Nourish your body with oatstraw by drinking this Womb Wellness tea which is formulated for pregnancy and postpartum.
Or try it with other herbs to increase and enrich breast milk in this Milky Mama tea.
Other Top Oatstraw Benefits
One of the most traditional uses for oatstraw is as a nutritive tonic to restore the body and nervous system after prolonged stress, exhaustion, burnout, or illness.
It can also be used as a tonic during pregnancy or menopause to nourish the body and restore nutrients that may be depleted, especially calcium. (Rosemary Gladstar. Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide, pg. 181)
As a tonic herb, oatstraw works to restore and rejuvenate over time. An infusion of oatstraw taken everyday for several weeks will build the body back up.
For more acute situations of exhaustion or stress, the milky oat tops can be used instead as a tincture, which will act more quickly. (2)
Oatstraw has a calming effect on the nervous system that benefits sleep. An oatstraw infusion can relax your body and mind and resolve sleeplessness. (2)
Oatstraw also contains a good source of calcium and magnesium, two nutrients that are important for a good night's sleep.
Calcium is needed for the brain to use tryptophan to produce melatonin, the sleep hormone. Magnesium is also essential for producing melatonin, and magnesium deficiency often results in insomnia. (5)
To get the benefits of oatstraw and other herbal sleep aids, try drinking a cup of this Sweet Slumber tea before going to bed.
Calms Stress and Anxiety
Along with promoting better sleep, the soothing benefits of oatstraw for the nervous system can calm stress, nerves, and irritability. It's one of the traditional nervine herbs used to treat general anxiety. (6)
Oatstraw infusion taken over time can gradually help to reduce daily stress as well as symptoms of depression and anxiety. Some studies indicate that oatstraw reduces levels of cytokines which are linked to depression and other mental disorders. (7)(8)
For more acute symptoms of anxiety, stress, or depression, the milky oat tops can be used instead in tincture form.
Surprisingly, along with its calming effect on the nervous system, oatstraw can also increase libido for both men and women.
It's thought to do this by supporting the endocrine system and regulating the hormones that support a healthy sex drive. (2) Oatstraw is often combined with damiana root to boost libido.
Just like oatmeal is considered a heart-healthy grain, oatstraw also has benefits for heart health.
It contains a rich source of antioxidants called avenanthramides. Avenanthramides have been found to reduce inflammation that contributes to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. (9)
In one study, an oatstraw extract was found to improve blood flow in the heart and brain. (10) Impaired blood flow is another risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Healthy Bones, Hair, and Skin
The silica, calcium, and other minerals in oatstraw provide the nutrients needed for healthy hair and nails. It contains an easily assimilated form of calcium that also supports strong bones and teeth. (1)
Oats have long been used as a remedy for itchy and dry skin. Milky oats can be used in a warm bath just like common oats to soothe and hydrate irritated skin.
Adding an oatstraw infusion to bathwater will also have benefits for skin and nails.
Using Oatstraw and Milky Oats
The most common way to use oatstraw is as a tea or infusion.
- 1 oz. dried oatstraw
- 4 cups boiling water
Instructions: To make your own oatstraw infusion at home, put the dried herb in a quart jar or other glass container. Pour the boiling water over the oatstraw, cover with a cloth, and let it steep overnight. Strain out the herbs and refrigerate if not using right away.
You can drink the infusion throughout the day to support your body and nervous system. Or drink a cup of it before bedtime to help with sleep.
To relieve dry and itchy skin, add about two cups of oatstraw infusion to warm bathwater. Or add 1/2-1 cup of milky or regular oats to a muslin bag or old nylon.
Tie the bag and let the water run over it as you fill your bath. Squeeze oat milk from the bag into the water and directly onto your skin.
Oats, oatstraw, and milky oats are very safe and can be used even during pregnancy and nursing. They are gentle enough for babies and children.
The main precaution to be aware of is that oats can become contaminated with gluten during processing. Those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should use oats and oatstraw that are certified as gluten-free.
Discover the Healing Benefits of Oatstraw
Oatstraw is one of the most nutritive and gentle herbs you will find. It has major benefits for the nervous system and can aid sleep, calm stress, and reduce anxiety.
Taking an oatstraw infusion over time can build you back up after going through burnout and prolonged stress. Milky oats have their own beneficial properties, especially for skin.
Now that you know about the benefits of the entire oat plant, try them out for yourself!