A quick introduction to me; Some call me Natalie, and I go by Willow. I’ve been the bulk herbs buyer at Rainbow Remedies a little over half a year and delight in the position. I have been enthusiastic and bewildered with earth medicine since I was crawling around in the dirt, eating chive flowers and sneezing in the waves of sweet grass as a child. I would still call myself an amateur (latin: to love) herbalist, after all it’s a life long journey of learning and spreading the knowledge and wisdom.
So I shall begin a series of blog posts exploring and introducing you to herbs that I consider my closest friends. Yes, I call them friends. They range from nurturing, nourishing, strengthening, cleansing and purifying, uplifting, relaxing… and I could keep going on. When introducing a plant I will touch on botany, history and folklore, medicinal qualities, energetics, and ideas of how to connect with them.
The first friend I would like to introduce you to is Oats (Avena sativa). Oh she’s a delight. A traditional staple in Europe as a sweet and nutritious food. Related to wild oat (A. sterilis) native to the Fertile Crescent of the Near East. Her family, Poaceae, the grass family. A. sativa is an annual growing in temperate regions, and can be found in disturbed habitats, meadows and fields. She is also known as a cultigen (a plant species or variety known only in cultivation). The crop is harvested when the grain is ripe and the aerial parts are dried and chopped (sold usually in oat straw form or oat bud/ milky tops) At Rainbow we sell both cuts. I’ve also read from other herbalists fresh buds in tincture form is the most potent form to take as medicine. When harvesting; connect, ask, and give gratitude and then it is important to make sure the plant is at the right reproductive stage, after flowering and before the seed turns hard and is fully mature (the immature seed expresses ‘milk’ which is immature liquified endosperm). If you squeeze the seed heads you’ll find your answer if they’re ready or not to harvest!
Oats in both forms are an incredible tonic for the whole system and prepared in many ways. Warming, moist and sweet. It’s rich in many minerals such as iron, calcium silica, zinc, phosphorus, and magnesium. It also contains alkaloids, and vitamins B1, B2, D, and E. Both the straw and the bud are a restorative nerve tonic, antidepressant, and nutritive. Also very helpful for blood cholesterol levels. Beloved by many for it’s use for anxiety, adrenal exhaustion, stress and transitioning out of addiction. It’s definitely an herb I’m excited to introduce folks to because of its nourishing and safe spirit. The seed can be a cooked grain, or prepared as a poultice, soak and bath. Oat straw can be used in herbal infusions, broth, and vinegar. Milky oats are also incredible as a fresh tincture with alcohol or vinegar. I usually carry around a fresh milk oat tincture when I need a consoling and gentle spirit, and my other favorite way to commune with her is through infusion; adding a cup or so of oat straw to a quart jar, adding hot water and letting it sit for four hours or overnight straining and drinking throughout the day, yum.
I hope you feel well introduced to A. sativa. Come in and say hello some time, we’ve got two different cuts of oat straw, and the buds in bulk, plus you can find her in tincture form and in more than a few tincture blends at Rainbow!
Thanks for your time, blessings and warmth!