The History of Oats
The humble oat - a plant we are all familiar with that has likely graced our breakfast bowl or granola countless times. Its place as a pantry staple is for good reason, as oats are an ancient food that has nourished humans for thousands of years. In Italy, traces were detected on a pestle-like object found in caves occupied by paleolithic hunter gatherers. With this discovery, our knowledge of their first consumption dates at over 32,000 years ago, far before their domestication.
A belly warming essential during cold winter months, we often associate oats as a healthful food, yet their healing potential extends far beyond the breakfast table. Fresh oat seeds harvested at the immature 'milky' stage are a supreme tonic to restore a depleted nervous system or soothe a weakened stomach, and the straw is deeply nutritious with a host of different vitamins and minerals. Their sweet, moist nature gently soothes nervous tension when one is exhausted from overwork or a stressful lifestyle and beset with anxiety or worry. They are also a helpful, building ally when recovering from illness, and Oats pair particularly well with many other immune enhancing, nervous system soothing herbs. We include oats milky tops in our ADAPT formula and NOURISH and SUNRISE tea blends, to support the body and mind to cope with physical, mental and emotional stress.
Oats offer their medicine at the times where we might need it most, and are best taken cumulatively, over several weeks to months. The fresh milky seeds are ready for harvest at the perfect time of the farming season, after the height of summer frenzy has passed and our bodies could use a little more nourishing support. Tending to the oat patch becomes a bit of a ritual, with a daily check to see the plump seeds swelling, in order to catch them at their peak. Once they are ready to harvest, a light squeeze of the immature seed pod will produce a small drop of white latex, which is the health-giving 'milk' of the oat. We then gather them at the height of their medicine to make tincture and fresh glycerite, and what seeds remain will be dried for use in tea. The straw too is then harvested and dried.
Using Oats to Heal Soil
In addition to their potential to support a depleted body, oats are also building for the soil. When used as a cover crop or green manure, the extensive root system helps to stabilize the ground and retain water more efficiently under stress. After we harvest the oat straw, we leave the plant roots in the ground to decompose and release nutrients to feed the surrounding soil community of fungi, bacteria, and insects. Vibrant soil supports vibrant plants for medicine, and caring for the earth is a dynamic give and take, a lesson in the medicine of reciprocity. ☀️
Give Oats a Go
Give oats a go in your life - in teas, tinctures, home made oat milk, or oatmeal with fresh berries and herb infused honey for breakfast. It will deeply nourish and support your body and mind in the coming season.
Late Summer Blessings, 🌻