Herb Spotlight - Milky Oats

Milky Oats (Avena sativa)  

Family: Poaceae

Part Used: Spikelets

Flavor/Aroma: Sweet

Energetics: Neutral, Moistening



Milky Oats, or common oats, is a nutrient dense, grass-like plant that has been nourishing livestock and their handlers since herding and farming began. It is known for its neurorestorative properties, aiding in memory, focus, and stamina; and as one of the best ways to nourish our entire nervous system. Milky Oats contains high levels of bioavailable nutrients such as silica, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B complex, and vitamin A and C.  


Milky Oats grows prolifically in most soil types, favoring open fields, roadsides, and generally full-sun conditions. It grows with a smooth stem, reaching heights of up to 4 feet. The spikelets are pendulous, and droop slightly off of the blades of the milky oat leaves.

Cultivation and Harvesting:

Milky Oats is commonly found throughout most northern, temperate climates. Its origins are somewhat unknown, but seem to point to the Sicily region of Italy and Chilean islands.¹ Milky Oats is best harvested when the spikelets are engorged with their white, latex material, which is when the medicinal value of the plant is most concentrated. They are at their peak ripeness in the hottest summer months, and should be harvested with care at this time.

Southern Oregon Cultivation:

Milky Oats are found throughout the Rogue Valley, in low lying, dry conditions with plenty of sun exposure, and thrive in the Southern Oregon heat. In the peak of summer, the oat tops of the plant become engorged with a nutritious, milky fluid that provides foragers with a sweet medicine unlike any others. Its common to find Milky Oats along roadsides, in open fields, and along sunny hillsides.  

History and Folklore:

European Uses: Milky Oats was used to treat a variety of nervous system ailments including fainting spells, headaches, and fatigue. It has also been used to treat excessive worry, involuntary jerking, restless leg syndrome, and turrets. Milky Oats was used to support a low lobido, impotence and wet dreams, premature ejaculation, and general nocturnal loses.

‘Sowing your wild oats’ is an idiom whose meaning refers to the libido enhancing and endocrine nourishing properties of Milky Oats. 4

Modern Applications:

Milky Oats is indicated to support unwanted upregulations of the nervous system, providing an acute calming and balanced effect. It is used to remedy extreme fatigue, both physical and mental, sleeping problems such as falling asleep and insomnia; as well as to help quit nicotine and other addictions.² Milky Oats provide blood-sugar regulating abilities through its high concentrations of oligopeptides and avenanthramides, it also provides a hypoglycemic effect which allows more efficient insulin and glucose regulation. It also is used to treat menstrual related headaches and fatigue, general nerve pain, anxiety, and nervousness.3,5

Uses and Preparations:

Dried Herb Tea Preparation: 

1-2 Tablespoons per cup of warm water.

Using a reusable tea bag or tea ball, immerse the loose dried herbs into boiling water and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes, preferably covered, in order to release the maximum amount of herbal goodness. Some herbal tea can carry a strong flavor. We recommend organic honey as a sweetener which preserves the beneficial herbal compounds. 


4-6 mL up to 4 times per day, and more as needed.

Some herbal tinctures can have a strong flavor on their own. Adding your tincture to a glass of 6-8oz of water is one easy way to help, should you wish to dilute the flavor.  

Recommended Usage:

It is important to remember that some bodies may react differently than others when using herbal products. Our recommended usage amounts are designed to be an average dosage only. If you have specific concerns about the usage amount or interaction with other medication, please consult with your doctor or health care practitioner prior to using our products.


Milky Oats is safe for tonic use. We recommend consulting with your practitioner if you are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant, or if you are using any other medications.  


  1. Avena Sativa. (n.d.). www.henrriettes-herb.com/eclectic/kings/avena.html 
  2. Belkheir, A., De, S., Singh, R. (2013). Avena sativa (Oat), a potential nutraceutical and therapeutic agent: an overview. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23072529 
  3. Gaiping, C., Haoming, T., Ling, L., Qingtao, H., Yun, L. (December 7, 2015). The Metabolic Effects of Oat Intake in patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A Systemic Review and Meta-Anaylisis.www.ncbi.nih.nlm.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4690088 
  4. Edwards, Gail Faith. (2000). Opening Our WIld Hearts to the Healing Herbs. Woodstock, NY: Ash Tree Publishing.
  5. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://cms.herbalgram.org/expandedE/Oatstraw.html

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.