Milky Oats


Green Milky Oats with sky background

Avena sativa, Milky Oats, is as nourishing and comforting in its fresh, milky stage as it is a delicious porridge on a chilly morning. When I learned that the same rolled or steel-cut oats I ate for breakfast were from the same plant that grew lush milky oat seed heads; life seemed to full circle in the understanding that some herbs are truly both food and medicine. Many years ago, I sat at Susun Weed’s feet to learn more about the herbs I had been reading about and growing in my garden. I knew and appreciated the gifts of Calendula, Hypericum, Lemon Balm, and Echinacea, but there were so many others I was just beginning to cultivate a relationship with. Susun encouraged her students to make time to learn from only a few plants each year, trusting that over time we would deepen our relationships with these plants as we included other herbs into our growing personal pharmacopeias. 

As a young mother seeking good nutrition for my family, I was most drawn to the plants considered nourishing herbs as well as those classified as tonic herbs. The first two I met and called food as medicine were Nettles and Milky Oats. The first summer I grew and harvested Oats, I delighted in the sensual feel of pulling up on the stem, filling my cupped hand with the green seed heads. Like a zipper, I drew the seeds up from one plant after another, soon filling a small basket with this fragrant harvest. Drying in a roomy basket, with enough air circulating, I would stir the seed heads daily till dry. To be double sure there was no moisture left, I then placed the oats in a paper bag in a dry, warm room for a few more days before storing in a glass jar with top on, and placing in a cool, dry cabinet. One year, I did not dry them enough and sadly, the whole gallon jar of green oats molded! Since then I am extra careful to be sure seed heads are absolutely dry!

Sweet, nutritive and calming- Milky oats and Oatstraw gathered when green, make their way into teas and infusions. As well as being prepared as an alcohol extract using 40-50% alcohol; oat powder can be placed in the bath to help with acute itchy skin conditions such as poison ivy, chicken pox, and dermatitis. Two of my children spent a few summer days in a small pool of cool water blended with oat powder, content to play in their “oat medicine bath” as their chickenpox healed. As I remember, after their baths they easily fell asleep for an afternoon nap. Nice!

Oats, green Milky Oat seeds and Oatstraw, high in calcium and other minerals ~ are excellent support for healthy strong bones, shining hair and nails, along with an overall sense of calm and centeredness. They are soothing and restoring to frayed nerves, helping with sleeplessness and exhaustion and the effects of stress. Milky oats are also used by those trying to break an addiction to smoking, alcohol or drugs. For those dealing with acute or long term anxiety, depression and accompanying exhaustion, oats have both an immediate effect and long term strengthening benefit. 

Over the years, I have successfully used Milky Oat seed and Oatstraw for stress related hair loss, cranky babies, to improve fertility, increase milk flow for nursing moms, soothe skin eruptions, address nervous ticks, lack of zest, (tired adrenals) as well with people with tight schedules,“burning the candle at both ends”, and parents of little ones who are desperate for sleep (given to the babies/ toddlers as well as mom and dad!) This herb/grain is a “must-have!”

- Kate 

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