OatsBotanical Name: Avena sativa (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Graminaceae
Synonyms: Groats. Oatmeal.
Part Used: Seeds.
Habitat: It is unknown when Oats were first introduced into Britain.
Description: There are about twenty-five varieties cultivated. The nutritive quality of Oats is less in a given weight than that of any other cereal grain. In the best Oats it does not exceed 75 per cent. Avena sativa, the Common Oat, has a smooth stem, growing up to 4 feet high, with linear lanceolate, veined rough leaves; loose striate sheaves; stipules lacerate; panicle equal, loose; spikelets pedunculate, pendulous, twoflowered, both perfect, lower one mostly awned; paleae cartilaginous, embracing the caryopsis; root fibrous, annual. The Naked or Pilcorn Oat differs slightly from the other: calyces three-flowered, receptacle exceeding the calyx; petals awned at the back; the third floscule awnless; and the chief difference lies in the grains, which when ripe quit the husk and fall naked. The grains as found in commerce are enclosed in their pales and these grains divested of their paleae are used for medicinal and dietary purposes; the grains when separated from their integuments are termed groats, and these when crushed are called Embden groats. Oatmeal is ground grain.
Constituents: Starch, gluten, albumen and other protein compounds, sugar, gum oil, and salts.
Medicinal Action and Uses: Nervine, stimulant, antispasmodic. Oats are made into gruel. This is prepared by boiling 1 OZ. of oatmeal or groats in 3 pints of water till reduced to 1 quart, then straining it, sugar, lemons, wine, or raisins being added as flavouring. Gruel thus is a mild nutritious aliment, of easy digestion in inflammatory cases and fevers; it is very useful after parturition, and is sometimes employed in poisoning from acid substances. It is found useful also as a demulcent enema and boiled into a thick paste makes a good emollient poultice. Oatmeal is unsoluble in alcohol, ether, and the oils, but the two first move an oleoresinous matter from it. It is to be avoided in dyspepsia accompanied with acidity of the stomach. The pericarp of Oats contains an amorphous alkaloid which acts as astimulant of the motor ganglia, increasing the excitability of the muscles, and in horses causes excitement. A tincture is made by permeating 4 OZ. of ground oatmeal to 1 pint diluted alcohol, keeping the first 5 1/2 OZ. (fluid), and evaporating the remainder down to 1/2 fluid ounce, and adding this to the first 5 1/2 fluid ounces. The extract and tincture are useful as a nerve and uterine tonic.
Dosage: Fluid extract, 10 to 30 drops in hot water. (The last dose at night should be taken in cold water instead of hot, or it may induce sleeplessness. - EDITOR.)