Wait – that’s supposed to be “sow your wild oats” – isn’t it?
It makes more sense to reap them. At this time of year in the Middle East, native Avena sterilis sends up its nodding seed heads in empty lots, fields, and neglected gardens everywhere. All you have to do is yank up a handful, stalk, leaves, seeds and all, and bring it home to make tea. The oat kernels hidden inside the bearded husk are tender and difficult to extract by hand, but the good news is, you can cut up an entire stalk (minus the root), take this oatstraw and brew a nourishing tea out of it.
How is oatstraw tea good for you? This home remedy is rich in calcium and the minerals and vitamins that nourish bones (helps prevent osteoporosis). It helps to stabilize blood sugar. Nowadays people know that when you eat the grain as oatmeal, you reduce cholesterol and improve blood circulation, but fewer take advantage of wild oats to make the infused tea, which does the same.
Herbalists often prescribe a soothing cup of oatstraw tea as a tonic to strengthen the nerves and help reduce tension and anxiety. It’s a good hot drink for jittery adolescents – or their stressed-out parents. Drunk before bedtime, it helps you sleep better. It is said to reduce headaches and menstrual cramps.
Oats combined with nettles, are known to be a sexual stimulant to men and an aid to lactation for nursing mothers. For these purposes, use one tablespoon of oatstraw and two teaspoons of nettles per two cups of boiling water.
Use this soothing plant to ease skin irritations. Simmer a good handful of oatstraw in a liter of water for twenty minutes. Strain the tea and add it to your medicinal bath. Or put oatstraw into a clean nylon sock and let it steep in the hot water while you bathe. For children with chicken pox, an oatstraw bath is one of the kindest things you can do.
How do you use oatstraw? Pick it now, while it’s still green and tender. A bagful will keep you going for a long time. Cut off any dirty parts near the root. One long green stalk is enough for two cups of infused tea. Cut it up with scissors, put the pieces into a cup, and pour two cups of boiling water over it. Allow the tea to infuse for four hours. Even better, overnight. Strain and drink, either gently re-heated or cold. It is mild-tasting and good; very slightly sweet.
Oatstraw dries quickly, which makes it easy to store. Just put the stalks in a jar or spread them out on a cloth and allow them to dry, in the shade. When the stalks and heads are a light golden color and rustle dryly, you can store them in a glass jar. It will keep a year.
To brew tea from dry oatstraw, take a tablespoon of the chopped material and pour two cups of boiling water over it. Allow it to steep four hours to overnight, as with the green stuff.
Dosage is three cups of oatstraw tea a day, for any purpose.
If you keep birds, try poking a stalk, either green or dry, through the bars of the cage. Budgies, especially, love them.
And children love to gather them. If you’re not going to be planting a tree for Tu B’Shvat, you might take the little ones out to discover the wild oats. It’s free, green food and medicine. Just remember, when you forage it, to take only what you think you’ll need and no more.
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