I would love to share some photos and thoughts on the process of growing and making medicines with Milky Oats. That would be Avena sativa, for those of you who speak Latin! Avena means oat and sativa means cultivated, more or less.
Oats are an easy medicine to grow, an annual with a short growing season and quite hardy. The seed is cheap and easy to come by at feed stores or in bulk bins at the hippie market. I have also ordered a few pounds from Johnny’s. Sow the seed thickly as birds assume you are scattering it just for them! They sprout quickly but then spend quite a bit of time looking like grass, leading passersby to wonder why you devoted so much of your precious garden space to tall grass. But wait! Here comes the oats! When the first little oaty dangles appear you can be excited, but not so excited as to harvest. Oats aren’t like some plants where it is quite obvious when to harvest from 1/2 a mile away, with a big ol’ flashy flower, an enticing scent or a plump fruit. One must observe, and gently squeeze the little oat-seed-to-be, waiting for the miracle. One fine day the milky juice shall exude, and the bees buzz, and the birds sing. Houston, we have Milky Oats!!! The window of perfectness is small here– harvest immediately, and set to medicine making!
I like to strip off the milky seeds and tincture them right away. If I am near an electrical outlet, I will blend them up in my cuisinart. I make a lot of strong tincture, a little nice mellow brandy tincture for blending, and an elixir with vanilla beans and maple. I dry some of the oatstraw for a decoction or winter syrup, feed a lot to my chickens and use some for mulching in the garden. I also like to leave a small amount of the oat plants to go to seed and replant themselves.
Just note here: dried Oat seeds are NOT Milky Oats. They are Oatstraw, which is lovely just not the same thing.
Milky Oats act as a replenisher for the whole body, especially the nervous system. The keywords are nourishing, gently moistening, rebuilding. I think most people could use a little of this medicine, but specifically those dealing with exhaustion, depletion, addiction, cycles of stress and insomnia, dryness and poor tension management. I blend it with Scullcap for a relaxing evening tincture, with Rose for a heart healer, with Blue Vervain for muscle tension and/or high level of stress. Think of the Oats blowing in the breeze. Think of the strong horse running. Think of a cover crop for the garden of your heart. Fortifying your soil.