Natural ingredient that is equally kind to the brain as it is to the body, oat straw extract has been in use for hundreds of years.
This deeply nourishing and nutrient-dense supplement is chock full of minerals and vitamins that deliver several benefits for emotional and brain health.
Plus, it comes with the ability to ward off conditions associated with chronic inflammation, oxidative damage, and age-related mental decline.
So, is oat straw with its impressive nutrient profile a good match for whole oats, or does it fall short on its health claims?
Let’s find out.
What is Oat Straw (Avena Sativa)?
To start things off, let us first be clear about how oat straw is different from oats.
Oats, a type of cereal grain, are a breakfast food staple and well known for their immense health benefits. The oat seed or grain is one of the most fiber-dense foods with many health benefits.
Oats are available in a few different varieties, such as whole oat grouts, steel-cut and rolled oats, quick oats, and even oat bran or oat flour. All offer excellent nutritional value, with the more intact forms yielding better nutrition than the processed varieties.
Based on extensive research, there’s the well-deserved praise of improved heart health, sustained energy levels, type 2 diabetes prevention, cholesterol management, and even low blood pressure due to their beta-glucan and fiber content.
Beta-glucan can also improve skin conditions like eczema, bedsores, wounds, and radiation therapy burns, but what about brain function?
Do Oats Help In This Area?
This is where the often neglected parts of the Sativa plant come in, namely the oat stems and leaves.
Known as oat straw, this is the hay-like grass of the Sativa plant that grows with green oats. But, whereas the oat grain is highly praised for boasting healthy features, the potential of the green stem of the plant goes unnoticed.
Both parts of the oat plant have an equally impressive nutrient profile. For instance, while the seed is rich in nutrients like magnesium, phosphorous, copper, and selenium, the extract from the stems and leaves boasts iron, zinc, and manganese, along with essential antioxidants, flavonoids, and dietary fiber.
The Sativa plant has a long history as an herbal medicine for treating various health conditions. Traditionally, oat extract was used to provide nervous system support, treat insomnia and exhaustion, and relieve painful muscles and kidney problems.
Traditional Chinese Medicine associates oat extract with conditions related to anxiety, mood imbalances, and even sleeping restfully.
How Does Oat Straw Extract Work?
One of the most prominent ways oat straw extract works in the brain is by stimulating alpha brainwave activity. Many of its health properties stem from this mechanism.
Research suggests that alpha brainwave activity may be beneficial in several ways, such as boosting cognition, triggering creativity, and reducing depression and anxiety.
Another pathway is inhibiting MAO-B, the enzyme that breaks down dopamine. This helps raise dopamine levels in the brain that uplifts mood.
A third mechanism is PDE4 inhibition which is an inflammatory enzyme.
Oat straw extract uses a combination of these mechanisms to deliver its health benefits.
What Are The Health Benefits of Oat Straw?
As a nootropic agent, oat straw offers cognitive properties that seem to be mostly concentrated in the straw component rather than the grain itself.
You have anecdotal support for its efficacy on anxiety, mood, and libido, and now scientific research is increasingly focusing on its various benefits for brain function.
Boosts Brain Function
Like very few other healing herbs, Avena sativa holds the potential to boost alpha brainwave frequencies.
Alpha waves are associated with the cognitive processes of rapid learning, memory formation, and recall.
One study investigating EEG brainwave activity showed that healthy adults who used oat straw supplements have improved brainwave activity in the brain’s governing cognition. Study participants were able to perform better during arithmetic testing and made fewer errors (1).
Research confirmed that the effects were increased brainwave frequency in the left frontotemporal lobe, which is the brain region involved in cognitive tasks demanding concentration.
Another aspect of brain function is supporting long-term memory. Avena sativa can help with this by prolonging cAMP activity in the brain.
In another nootropic capacity, Avena sativa has a beneficial effect on monoamine oxidase-B (MAO-B), which can protect against cognitive disorders due to aging.
MAO-B levels start to accelerate as people age, which causes a deceleration in dopamine levels leading to decreased mental function.
Research studies with older adults show that supplementing with green oat extract has beneficial effects on memory, attention, and cognition (2).
Oat straw extract also has a history of being used to calm an anxious mind and reduce stress and anxiety. The mechanism behind this activity is, once again, boosting alpha wave activity in the brain.
Alpha waves are produced when the brain is in a relaxed and restful state. That is why this activity is magnified when people engage in stress-relieving activities like yoga and meditating.
Research shows that the stress-busting potential of oat straw extract is further amplified by its ability to improve dopamine levels. This neurotransmitter yields a sense of satisfaction and pleasure.
The mechanism is the same as mentioned previously; by inhibiting MAO-B. This prolongs the effects of dopamine which is good for mood.
In modern herbology, its tincture is a simple remedy to calm mild anxiety and take the edge off low mood.
Oat straw extract suppresses the activity of inflammatory cytokines through the antioxidant activity of avenanthramides (3).
Along with brain inflammation, many cytokines also increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
The cognitive benefits of reduced inflammation mean a lower risk of brain disorders such as schizophrenia, manic depression, and Alzheimer’s since higher cytokine levels are detected in these conditions.
Another mechanism that comes into play is the inhibition of phosphodiesterase-4 (PDE4), an enzyme that can cause inflammation (4).
PDE4 is linked closely to inflammation, and active compounds in oat straw prevent PDE4 from overactivation in the body.
Low, chronic inflammation may also promote arterial plaque growth and loosening of plaque to trigger blood clots that raise the risk of heart disease.
The use of avenanthramides may also help manage inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, lower skin redness, and itchiness caused by allergic and non-allergic inflammation.
It is easy to find skin products that use oats as an ingredient to provide soothing relief from itching and inflammation.
Improves Blood Flow
Oat extract contains antioxidants known as avenanthramides that possess the potential for enhancing heart health.
Specifically, these may boost nitric oxide levels and assist circulatory performance by helping blood vessels relax.
Among other things, this naturally translates into a lower risk of heart disease.
Eating oats and oatmeal is also recommended for adults who want to keep their sugar and cholesterol levels checked. Its fiber content will also help keep the heart healthy and pumping well.
Also, the process of vasodilation can deliver better blood flow to the brain in terms of both quantity and quality. A steady supply of oxygen and nutrient-dense blood affects brain health and performance positively.
Improves Bone Health
The plant extract is enriched with many bone-strengthening nutrients, most notably calcium. Its calcium content is organic and quickly assimilated into the body without any side effects.
Calcium keeps the bones strong, muscles functioning, and the heart working optimally.
Research also indicates the herb to be a preventive measure against osteoporosis. The condition involves progressive boneless and decreased bone density due to calcium loss (5).
Taking an oat straw supplement is a safe way to maintain calcium levels and prevent deficiencies.
Oat straw extract has a calming impact on the mind that helps you get a good night’s rest. An infusion can help relax the body and mind and resolve sleeplessness.
Alongside calcium, the plant is also a good source of magnesium. Both trace minerals are essential for adults to rest well at night.
Calcium utilizes the amino acid tryptophan to make melatonin that improves rest performance. Research on the subject has found that calcium is associated with less trouble falling and staying asleep (6).
Low levels of this vital mineral can trigger extreme fatigue, sluggishness, and a lack of energy, leading to insomnia.
Magnesium works by activating mechanisms that quiet and calm the mind. It may also help with anxiety and depression, which can prevent you from sleeping well.
There are different forms of magnesium available, and you should consult with your doctor to see which supplement will suit you best.
Some consider it a potential treatment for insomnia.
Promotes Sexual Health
Also considered an aphrodisiac, oat extract is used to promote libido. This effect likely traces back to its potential to improve blood flow to different body parts.
Once again, we will refer to nitric oxide with vasodilatory effects playing an important role in erectile dysfunction.
In male adults, the extract from oats is believed to increase luteinizing hormone levels, instructing the testicles to produce more testosterone. This helps balances the hormones needed to support a healthy sex drive and response.
In women, it is believed to boost vaginal stimulation and the physical and emotional desires for sex. Some traditions even hold the herb helpful in relieving menstrual cramping and bloating.
May Help With Addiction Treatment
There is some evidence that Avena Sativa may help people quit addictions and treat withdrawal symptoms.
Some research looked into its properties for treating opium addiction and observed some positive results.
On another note, oat straw extract also seemed to help with quitting smoking (7).
Even though promising, this possible benefit is still preliminary, and results are somewhat mixed. More research is needed to establish it as a treatment for helping addictive habits.
How To Take Oat Straw?
Many people eat dried oat straw sprinkled over food like you would flaxseed, for instance. Or, you could include it in the form of a tea in your diet.
Its powdered form is a product that makes for a healthy addition to smoothies, baked goods, or tonics.
As a supplement, oat straw is available as a pill, powder, tincture, or extract. Oat straw tea is also a popular option for stress and relief and pain management.
There is no recommended dosage for oat straw, but research suggests taking between 800 – 1600 mg daily to experience benefits.
Oat straw extract works quickly, but you should use it regularly over time to experience its effects fully.
Does Oat Straw Have Side Effects?
Avena sativa has never been the focus of controversy and is known to be well tolerated without the reputation of causing any nasty side effects.
The most common complaints that users experience is feeling flatulence, bloating, and skin irritation when an oat-containing product is used topically for treating skin disorders.
However, anyone with food allergies or severe gluten sensitivity should avoid oat straw extract. This is because while oats do not contain gluten, there is a chance of cross-contamination where oats are grown or processed alongside wheat products.
If you have celiac disease, then carefully look at the manufacturer’s instructions to see whether the product has been in contact with other gluten-containing ingredients. Better still, call to confirm if they can guarantee no cross-contamination.
Oat straw extract offers excellent value as a nootropic ingredient. Not only does Avena sativa boost brain function, but it also supports protection against mental decline, whether it is due to aging or disease.
Its nutrient and safety profiles make it safe to consume for most people, and its gentle nervine support is highly prized among herbalists.
So, while you should still eat your oats and oatmeal, don’t forget about its equally nutrient-dense leafy sheaves and stalks.
- Does oat straw extract make you sleepy?
Oat straw is considered a nervine, so it helps calm the mind.
In this way, taking a warm, brewed concoction of oat straw extract may assist with sleeping soundly.
- Does oat straw extract contain gluten?
Oats are naturally gluten-free, which means that oat straw extract doesn’t contain any gluten either.
However, always check the product for the possibility of cross-contamination.
- Is Avena sativa good for anxiety?
at straw extract works quite effectively for anxiety, given its mildly sedative properties.
The extract from the stems and leaves of the oat plant relieves stress, possibly by inhibiting PDE4 levels.
- Does Avena sativa increase testosterone?
Some limited research indicates that Avena sativa may help increase testosterone levels, but the evidence is not substantiated well.