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Learn about Oat Straw

Botanical name: Avena sativa
Other names: Oatstraw, Green Oats

The humble oat is well known as a healthy breakfast cereal, but did you know it is also a nutritive and restorative herb that has beneficial effects on the nervous system, energy levels, brain function and bones?

Oat straw is used to calm, nourish and tone the nervous system, and is a favourite of herbalists for conditions such as anxiety, nervous tension and depression. Think of using oat straw tea when you are burnt out, frazzled and edgy. 

Oat straw is a nutritional powerhouse boasting high amounts of iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, manganese, vitamin A, vitamin C and antioxidants. It is high in polyphenols, which help fight oxidative stress. It also contains dietary fibre, which supports healthy digestion.

Oat straw is also used to help strengthen bones and teeth, due to its high calcium content. It also contains antioxidants that reduce the production and secretion of cytokines, which are pro-inflammatory compounds that are linked to an increased risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions. 

Research has shown oat straw to boost memory and cognition in adults [1,2]. Oat straw contains unique antioxidants called avenanthramides, which have been shown to improve blood flow by increasing nitric oxide, a molecule that helps dilate blood vessels. More blood to the brain = improved memory and cognition. Researchers have also found Oat straw to increase alpha brain waves [8], which we experience when we are relaxed and are associated with improved learning and joy.  

Oat Straw also has a beneficial effect on dopamine levels. According to nootropics expert David Tomen [3], as we age, we produce more MAO-B which reduces dopamine levels in the brain. Oat straw extract inhibits MAO-B which protects dopamine levels in the brain, helping increase feelings of happiness, libido and sexual pleasure, as well as benefiting brain disorders like ADHD and Parkinson’s Disease. 

Oats also have a reputation as a mood-enhancing herb. Saint Hildegard of Bingen (a famous herbalist of the 12th century) named oats as a favourite ‘happiness’ herb. As well as its effect on dopamine, research suggests that oats may improve mood by inhibiting the enzyme phosphodiesterase type 4 (PDE4) which may reduce stress, anxiety and depression [4,5].  

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a cup of oats! In fact, this is a herb that so many of us can benefit from in these times of increased stress and burn-out. Those of us that are over 40 can definitely benefit from regular use of Oat Straw, to protect our dopamine levels, improve brain function, libido and protect against age-related decline. 

[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21711204/

[2] http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1028415X.2015.1101304

[3] https://nootropicsexpert.com/oat-straw/#_edn18

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4689010/

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4519694/

[6] https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/abstract/10.1055/s-2006-954926

[7] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2505007/

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21563962/


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