Oat Straw Tea & Infusion
If you've visited the Tonic Room before, you may have noticed the jars of dried herbs beautifully lining the shelves of our herbal dispensary. Of those herbs, one of our favourite herbs to make teas and infusions is Avena sativa, also known as oats. Whole oats are a household dietary staple for good reason – a warm bowl of oats as porridge is a fantastic example of food as medicine. Oats promote healthy bowel function due to fibre content, balance blood sugar levels, support cardiovascular health, and lower cholesterol due to beta-glucans. The different plant parts from the whole oats to the aerial parts including the stems/straw and the oat tops vary slightly in their profiles and uses. However, overall, oats are a nutritional powerhouse high in silica, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, manganese and zinc, and vitamins A, B-complex, C, E, and K and amino acids.
Oat straw is a trophorestorative that restores and nourishes the nervous system. It is nutritive in cases of debility from anxiety, depression and fatigue and supports stress, insomnia, neuralgia, and exhausted adrenals. It is an incredible herb for individuals recovering from illness or fighting recurring infections such as cold sores and shingles. Oat straw is high in silica and minerals, which help restore connective tissues, including hair, nails, bones, muscles, tendons and nerves. Finally, oat straw acts as a gentle aphrodisiac, improving sexual interest and performance, especially with nettle (another one of our favourites!).
Teas and infusions are two of the most accessible ways to bring medicinal herbs into your everyday routine. Medicinal teas are made by steeping and infusing plant material in water and you can increase the medicinal properties by brewing them for longer. Softer plant parts such as flowers, leaves, stems, and buds are best suited for teas. Herbal infusions are similar to tea, although they are infused for an extended period (i.e. overnight) to gently extract minerals, vitamins, and beneficial plant constituents. Like medicinal teas, overnight infusions are best made with softer plant parts. Preparing an infusion before bed and leaving it to infuse overnight is one of the easiest ways to incorporate this healing plant medicine into your everyday routine. Whether you choose to make a tea or an infusion, they are always best used straight away as they are free from preservatives. Keep infusions refrigerated and drink within 24 hours to avoid any mould formation.
Place approximately 3 teaspoons of oat straw into a teapot and add 3 cups of boiling water. Put on the lid and steep for 10-20 minutes before straining to serve. Makes about 3 cups.
Pack a sterilised 1-litre heatproof glass jar about halfway with oat straw. Pour in 1 litre of boiling water, seal the lid and give it a shake. Leave it to infuse for 4 to 10 hours before straining to serve. If you prefer a warm infusion, gently reheat it in a saucepan on the stove to your desired temperature. You can also add lemon, a touch of raw honey, or blackstrap molasses for additional benefits. For general use, have 1 to 4 cups throughout the day.
Note: use oat straw with caution if you have coeliac disease or high sensitivity to gluten and always follow the advice of your health practitioner.
Written by Jessica Lloydd, Naturopath & Medical Herbalist