The common oat used in herbal supplements and foods is derived from cultivated sources. For some herbal supplements, the green or rapidly dried aerial parts of the plant are harvested just before reaching full flower. Many herbal texts refer to using the fruits (seeds) or green tops. Although some herb texts discuss oat straw, there is little medicinal action in this part of the plant.
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3 StarsReliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 StarsContradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 StarFor an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
Refer to label instructions
Oats are part a group of “nerve tonic” (nervine) herbs used in traditional herbal medicine for people with anxiety, with few reports of toxicity.
Herbs used to treat anxiety are sometimes recommended as part of a smoking cessation program, including oat straw.
Herbs used to treat anxiety are sometimes recommended as part of a smoking cessation program, including oat straw (Avena sativa), scullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), valerian (Valeriana officinalis), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), and vervain (Verbena officinalis). Of these herbs, only oat straw has been investigated in human research for smoking cessation. At least three trials have reported no effect of oat straw on smoking cessation, but one controlled study in India found that taking 1 ml of an alcohol extract of oat straw four times per day significantly reduced the number of cigarettes smoked per day.2
Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)
In folk medicine, oats are used by herbalists to treat nervous exhaustion, insomnia, and “weakness of the nerves.” A tea made from oats was thought by herbalists to be useful in rheumatic conditions and to treat water retention. A tincture of the green tops of oats was also used to help with withdrawal from tobacco addiction.1 Oats were often used in baths to treat insomnia and anxiety as well as a variety of skin conditions, including burns and eczema.
How It Works
Oat, Wild Oats
How It Works
The fruits (seeds) contain alkaloids, such as gramine and avenine, and saponins, such as avenacosides A and B.3 The seeds are also rich in iron, manganese, and zinc. The straw is high in silica. Oat alkaloids are believed to account for the relaxing action of oats, but it should be noted this continues to be debated in Europe. The German Commission E does not approve this herb as a sedative.4 However, an alcohol-based tincture of the fresh plant has reportedly shown some promise in countering nicotine withdrawal and helping with smoking cessation.5
How to Use It
A tea can be made from a heaping tablespoonful (approximately 15 grams) of oats brewed with 1 cup (250 ml) of boiling water. After cooling and straining, the tea can be taken several times a day and shortly before going to bed.6 As a tincture, oats are often taken at 1/2–1 teaspoon (3–5 ml) three times per day. Capsules or tablets, 1–4 grams per day, can be taken. A soothing bath to ease irritated skin can be made by running the bath water through a sock containing several tablespoons of oats, then bathing in the water for several minutes.
Oat, Wild Oats
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.
Interactions with Medicines
As of the last update, we found no reported interactions between this supplement and medicines. It is possible that unknown interactions exist. If you take medication, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
Oat, Wild Oats
At the time of writing, there were no well-known side effects caused by this supplement.
The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.
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