Most people are familiar with oat as a cover crop or as a cereal grain, however, here in the Westgarden we grow it for medicine!
Milky Oat is among our favorite herbs to grow because of its subtle beauty and strong medicinal value. Milky Oat is a Nervine, meaning it is incredibly nutritive and restorative to the body’s nervous system. It is known to help subdue anxiety, calm nerves and help those who are feeling exhausted and stressed. It is a particularly gentle and safe herb as well.
We sowed our oats from seed in the spring and watched them grown throughout the season. Once the oat tops have emerged it’s important to check them often because they must be harvested when they’re in their ‘milky’ stage. In order to tell if the plant is ready, gently squeeze the tops to see if a sweet, milky substance emerges from the flowers.
If the milk appears, then the oats are ready to harvest! Run your hand along the flowering tops to remove them from the stalk as shown below. We tincture some of our oat tops fresh with alcohol, and dry some to have in tea throughout the winter!