Avena Sativa sounds sort of like a curse from the Harry Potter series, but it is indeed something more mundane: oats or oat straw. Oats might be mundane, but that doesn’t hold them back from being a powerful medicine and food. In fact, oats might be one of the most under-appreciated foods out there. They have humble beginnings: oats started out as weeds often growing in wheat fields and were not cultivated until around 2000 years ago. This is late in the game regarding domesticating grains as wheat started being domesticated around 9,500 years ago.
Oats and oat straw were used as medicine long before they were used as food. Today we use oatmeal to soothe itchy skin from things like poison oak and poison ivy. I remember taking oatmeal baths when I had the chicken pox growing up. Oat straw, the dried grass part of the Avena Sativa plant, can be made into an infusion (tea) that is a nutritive tonic to the nervous system, helping support the nervous system in times of exhaustion, depression, insomnia, and anxiety. Milky Oats, the unripe seed, can be tinctured and used as a nerve tonic as well.
Oats are resilient. They were weeds before every being cultivated. Nowadays, most of the oats in the US are grown for animal feed—95%—only 5% is used for human consumption. Though oats started out as a weed, they pack a punch nutritionally. Oats are low on the glycemic index as they are high in soluble fiber. This means that they keep us satiated longer and don't spike our blood sugar. They also lower the amount of cholesterol in our blood. This is why oats are considered good for the heart. Oats contain many vitamins and minerals: vitamin B complex, vitamins A and C and silica, magnesium, phosphorus, chromium, iron, calcium and even a little protein. Oats also help increase dopamine, serotonin, and gamma-aminobutyric acid, three important neurotransmitters. This is probably why oats are used in herbal medicine to tonify the nervous system in times of exhaustion.
As noted, oats are renowned for supporting the nervous system, especially in times of anxiety and restlessness, which we experience when we are getting off of Suboxone.
Ways to eat and/or drink oats:
• Oatmeal is excellent sustenance and is easy on the stomach. It helps increase important neurotransmitters and many vitamins and minerals. If you aren’t feeling super hungry, try drinking an infusion of oat straw instead.
• An infusion of oat straw is also a great way to get vitamins and minerals. Drink this in addition to eating oatmeal and taking a milky oat tincture.
• A tincture of milky oats is really beneficial and highly recommended for suboxone withdrawal. It is going to have the benefits of the oat straw but more concentrated.
• Make a bath with a 1/2 gallon of oat straw infusion for relaxing. This is a lovely treat when feeling anxious and restless.
Beyond Suboxone Withdrawal
After the initial withdrawal off of suboxone, your body will still be out of whack. Nutritional support and herbal support are super important. Oatmeal can be very dull, but stable, and stability is essential. Stability and routine keep us grounded, something we need extra doses of when we are healing our brain and nervous systems #eatyouroatmeal. Milky oat tincture and infusion of oatstraw will also be beneficial as your nervous system is healing.
Eating and Drinking
OatmealI like to use Bob’s Red Mill Organic Thick Rolled Oats.
-1/2 cup oats
-1 cup water
-pinch of salt
cook until oats are soft.
put it in a bowl
add some ghee or regular old butter
milk (I use soy milk)
blueberries (frozen or fresh)
a small amount of maple syrup or honey to sweeten the pot.
Oat Straw Infusion:
Steep one ounce of oat straw in one quart of boiling water, covered, for at least four hours.
Add some honey (local raw is best if available) to sweeten.
Milky Oat Tincture
3-5 droppers 3x per day
Where to buy
Oatmeal: I prefer organic thick rolled oats. Bob’s Red Mill is a good source.
For educational purposes only. Most or all of 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. Avena Sativa will not take away withdrawal symptoms caused by buprenorphine.
Bennett, R. R. (2014). The gift of healing herbs: Plant medicines and home remedies for a vibrantly healthy life. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Mabey, R., & McIntyre, M. (2004). The new age herbalist: How to use herbs for healing, nutrition, body care, and relaxation. London: Gaia Books.A. (2016, March 17).
Neuropsychobiology: Dopamine, GABA, Serotonin and Acetylcholine. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMuuCS2h5IE&index=2&t=0s&list=PLHE8e9fCn7q_jwjbhF3OKbNvhU2u1VT5p
Oat Straw. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://herbarium.theherbalacademy.com/monographs/#/monograph/2032
Oats Benefits: Getting To Know Avena Sativa. (2018, January 25). Retrieved from https://theherbalacademy.com/oats-benefits-getting-to-know-avena-sativa/