Flakes prepared from the oat plant by pressing oats into ground grain are an integral food popular in Central and northern Europe. Moreover, oats have stimulating effects on the nervous system.
Healing Properties and Uses
Oat grains contain about sixty to seventy percent of starch and other sugars (carbohydrates), about 14% of proteins, about 7% of lipids (fat). Among other substances, they contain a significant amount of lecithin, B vitamins, pantothenic acid, enzymes, minerals, mainly calcium and phosphorus, certain trace elements, and an alkaloid (avenine), which have balancing and invigoration effects on the nervous system.
The use of the oat plant is very advisable in cases of depression, insomnia, and physical or nervous fatigue. Those people suffering from stress or sexual impotence, students—mainly during exams—athletes, and breastfeeding women, will find that oats from the oat plant are an excellent medicine food. Because of its practical use in poor digestion, it is also suitable for convalescents and those experiencing gastritis, colitis, and other digestive problems.
The bran of the oat plant contains silicon and vitamins A and B. It possesses soothing effects on the nervous system when taken orally as an infusion and used externally during bathing. Some research has demonstrated that oat bran reduces cholesterol in the blood. This decrease only affects the so-called “noxious” cholesterol (LDL). Still, it does not influence the level of “good” or protective cholesterol (HDL), which, as recently discovered, acts to help avoid arteriosclerosis.
This action of oat bran on the cholesterol level is common to all products containing vegetal bran, especially when the bran is soluble, for example, apples.
Oat Plant Scientific Facts
- Scientific name: Avena sativa L.
- French: Avoine.
- Spanish: Avena.
- Environment: Originally from southern Europe, its cultivation has spread to all five continents.
- Description: Annual plant of the Gramineae family, growing up to 1 m in height. The oat plant’s flowers, and its grains, are grouped in pairs in ears.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: Bran and grains.
Oats and Cholesterol
Dr. James Anderson of the University of Kentucky was working with diabetic patients, trying to find out whether there was a grain that was efficient in controlling the level of sugar in the blood. Dr. Anderson found out that when these patients ate oat flour, not only did the level of sugar in the blood improve but so did that of cholesterol.
When studying the issue in detail, he concluded that the agent which caused these decreases was the bran that oat flakes had. The soluble bran that makes oat bran acts by absorbing bile acids in the intestine and expelling them with defecations.
Bile acids are formed in the liver from the blood cholesterol and are poured into the intestine along with the bile. Most of the bile is usually reabsorbed in the ileum (the third portion of the small intestine), passing again to the blood and serving as an essential element in the production of cholesterol.
Oat bran forces the liver to produce more bile acids, which are essential in digestive processes, by absorbing bile acids and eliminating them along with feces. Thus, the liver must use the cholesterol that blood contains, which decreases its level. Hence, the consumption of whole oat flakes (with bran) is an excellent way to reduce cholesterol.
How to use the Oat Plant
- Flakes (pressed seeds) cooked with milk or vegetable broth.
- Infusion. Prepared with a tablespoon of oat bran per cup. Drink two or three a day.
- Relaxing bath. Oat infusion may also be added to bathwater, in a proportion of one liter per middle-sized bath, to achieve adequate relaxation
REFERENCES George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. Vols. 1 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 150, 151. Print.