Oats (Avena sativa)

Traditional Indications

Oats are anticholesterolemic, antispasmodic, anti-cancer, cardiac, diuretic, emollient, nervine, nutritive, poultice and stimulant. Oats are the trophorestorative to the nervous system. Oats gently restore vigour after debilitating illness, helps lower cholesterol levels in the blood and increase stamina. Avena sativa is useful as a nervine and uterine tonic. A decoction strained into a bath will help to soothe itchiness and eczema. A poultice made from the ground seeds is used in the treatment of eczema and dry skin. When consumed regularly, oat germ reduces blood cholesterol levels. Oat straw and the grain are mildly antidepressant, gently raising energy levels and supporting an over-stressed nervous system and used to treat general debility and a wide range of nervous conditions. Oats are of particular value in helping a person to cope with the exhaustion that results from chronic degenerative neurological conditions and insomnia. Oats are an excellent remedy for hair loss associated with stress. (1)


Several varieties of oats are available. It is a rich source of protein, contains a number of important minerals, lipids, β-glucan, a mixed-linkage polysaccharide, which forms an important part of oat dietary fiber, and also contains various other phytoconstituents like avenanthramides, an indole alkaloid-gramine, flavonoids, flavonolignans, triterpenoid saponins, sterols, and tocols. Traditionally oats have been in use since long and are considered as stimulant, antispasmodic, antitumor, diuretic, and neurotonic. Oat possesses different pharmacological activities like antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, wound healing, immunomodulatory, antidiabetic, anticholesterolaemic. (2)

In seeds and leaves of oats (Avena sativa L.) 12 different sterols (cholesterol, cholstanol, Δ(7)-cholestenol, campesterol, campestanol, stigmasterol, lophenol, sitosterol, stigmastanol, Δ(5)-avenasterol, Δ(7)-avenasterol and Δ(7)-stigmastenol) have been identified. (3)

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study on cognitive function in middle-aged adults concluded wild green-oat (Avena sativa) extract increased the speed of performance a range of computerized tasks measuring attention, spatial/working/episodic memory, and executive function. (4)

Active constituents identified including p-Hydroxybenzoic acid, vanillic acid, caffeic acid, vanillin, p-coumaric acid, and ferulic displays antioxidant activity. (5)

Oats are hypocholesterolaemic and positively affect plasma lipid profile. (6)

A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled multi-centre study in 200 patients using β-sitosterol treatment concluded that β-sitosterol treatment resulted in significant improvement in symptoms and urinary flow parameters showing the effectiveness of β-sitosterol in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. (7)

1. PFAF. Avena sativa 2019.
2. Singh R, De S, Belkheir A. Avena sativa (Oat), A Potential Neutraceutical and Therapeutic Agent: An Overview. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2013;53(2):126-44.
3. Eichenberger W, Urban B. Sterols in seeds and leaves of oats (Avena sativa L.). Plant cell reports. 1984;3(6):226-9.
4. Kennedy DO, Jackson PA, Forster J, Khan J, Grothe T, Perrinjaquet-Moccetti T, et al. Acute effects of a wild green-oat (Avena sativa) extract on cognitive function in middle-aged adults: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, within-subjects trial. Nutritional Neuroscience. 2017;20(2):135-51.
5. Emmons CL, Peterson DM, Paul GL. Antioxidant Capacity of Oat (Avena sativa L.) Extracts. 2. In Vitro Antioxidant Activity and Contents of Phenolic and Tocol Antioxidants. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry. 1999;47(12):4894-8.
6. Czerwiński J, Bartnikowska E, Leontowicz H, Lange E, Leontowicz M, Katrich E, et al. Oat (Avena sativa L.) and amaranth (Amaranthus hypochondriacus) meals positively affect plasma lipid profile in rats fed cholesterol-containing diets. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 2004;15(10):622-9.
7. Berges RR, Windeler J, Trampisch HJ, Senge T. Randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial of beta-sitosterol in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia. Beta-sitosterol Study Group. Lancet. 1995;345(8964):1529-32.