The Plain and Underrated, and often called common, but truly impressive Master Oats

The plain and ordinary young man and sometimes called ‘common’, Master Oats, has suffered badly with the middle child syndrome, older brothers such as Mister Wheat, Mister Barley and Mister Rye, have taken the limelight for too long and now it is time for Master Oats to rise and shine. This very gifted young man has more ability than you think. I ask you, “what are oats good for?” Breakfast cereal you say, well that is a good start but, he is a greater contender for a fight than just a bowl of porridge, or glue, as some may dare to judge.

Well, how good is he then, I here you say, okay, I’ll tell you how good he is, when Tina Turner sang, “We don’t need another hero”, I’m sure she must must have been singing about Master Oats, I’m not sure who this Mad Max guy is anyway.

Okay, I hear ya, that does sound a little ‘extreme’, but seriously, he is made of good stuff and if given half the chance, he could become a hero for our modern heart-failing age, which is full of depression, anxiety, stress, fatigue and bodily weakness.

Yes, Master Oats has been around for quite some time, so why do I call him ‘Master’, as if relating to him as if being ‘younger’, because he just hasn’t been allowed to ‘come of age’ such as his older half brothers wheat, barley and rye, as they all do come from the same family, ‘Poaceae/Gramineae’, but wheat, barley and rye come from a different Genus. Oats is a native to Europe and does still grow there wild. Back then, as is often today, animals are fed better than humans, and traditionally it was fed to the livestock at that time, but there is records of it being used in the human diet.

Mr John Gerard an Elizabethan physician had this to say about it: “Some of those good house-wives that delight not to have anything but from hand to mouth, according to our English proverbe, may (while the pot doth teeth) go to the barne, and rub forth with their hands sufficient for that present time.” … and “Otemeale is good for to make a faire and wel coloured maid to looke like a cake of tallow,”.

Oats – Avena sativa, with the name Avena coming from the Romans calling it Aveo, meaning to desire, and the term Oat comes from the old English – āte and nobody seems to know where that came from.


How to use Oats

So lets discuss some of Oats many uses. Historically, it seems to be the food of the poor or just a feed for livestock, and during the 1500’s it was turned into various forms of bread and cakes, and a replacement for “want of Barley”.

The first thing that comes to most peoples minds are its many Culinary uses and the most well known is Porridge, which can be made very basically or can be almost stylised into something very fancy, and if you want to then do it. Another more popular use of rolled oats is Muesli, developed by the Swiss Doctor – Bircher Berner and also in ‘muesli bars’. Using rolled oats has health benefits, but not as much as the original green product, for example ‘green oat straw’ and ‘green seed’.

Basic Porridge

  • Put 50 grams or 1/4 cup of rolled oats into a saucepan
  • Add a pinch of salt
  • Add 350ml (12fl oz) of water to the saucepan
  • Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes
  • Stir regularly to prevent sticking to the bottom
  • Pour into a bowl
  • Add some milk and sweetener
  • And enjoy

From this point you can multiply the formula to suit extra persons, and once you have completed this highly complex recipe, you can now move on to adding extras. Instead of adding water you can add your preferred milk to simmer the oats in or have half water and half milk. You can add many herbs and spices to your porridge during the cooking process or after you have put it in the bowl: these can be cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Or, you can add various berries such as, strawberries, cranberries, blueberries, mulberries or blackberries, as well as raisins and sultanas or fruit such as bananas. You can add extra fibre through various types of brans too. To add a little bite to your breakfast, you can throw in Greek yogurt, I have even tried a small splash of apple cider vinegar at the beginning, as it helps to break the oats down – predigestion, which is good for those trying to recover or convalescence. For sweeteners you can use honey, stevia, erythritol, and monk fruit, to name just a few. If I had to use sugar, I would use Jaggery or molasses, due to being very raw, and containing more nutrients.

Simple is usually the best

Lazy porridge

  • At night…
  • Place all your chosen ingredients from the list above (except for the water) into a Thermos, Vacuum or Dewar flask and evenly mix them up
  • Pour in boiling hot water, you may need a little extra hot water if adding more ‘dry’ ingredients
  • Place the lid on immediately
  • Leave until the morning
  • Open and enjoy

Oat Bread

Ingredients
  • 3 cups of wholemeal flour
  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 2 Tablespoons of finely chopped dandelion leaves or similar
  • 5 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons of honey or similar
  • 1 table spoon of coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups of milk
How to
  • Place flour, rolled oats, baking powder, and dandelion leaves into a bowl
  • Throughly and evenly mix
  • In another bowl beat the egg
  • Then to the beaten egg add the 2 tablespoons of sweetener, 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 1/2 cups of milk and mix
  • Add and mix in these to the dry mixture above
  • Put this mix into a suitable sized cake or bread tin
  • Cook at 177 C / 350 F for about 1 hour
  • Allow to cool and enjoy

Being an Aussie, I cannot dare to leave this thought here, as one of the most famous oat biscuit recipes in The land of Oz, is the ANZAC biscuit. The popular modern recipe for Anzac Biscuits has rolled oats, flour, sugar, butter, baking soda and boiling hot water and the modern version has desiccated coconut. These should never be called cookies and I won’t bother giving the recipe as there are many on the internet, and you promise to stick to the original recipe, hey mate.

Oat teas

Most of the oat plant can be used in a therapeutic manner, so with Oat tea, you normally use the oat straw, and on the whole it has the same values, but not exactly.

Simple Oat Straw Tea
  • Place 1 – 2 teaspoons of green oat straw into a cup (Dried or fresh)
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Steep for 10 – 15 minutes
  • If necessary, you can add a little sweetener
  • Drink freely

Please note: Green oat straw is better than dried, but if you can’t get the green version, then dried will do.

Strong Oat Straw Tea
  • Place equal parts of Oats, hops, passionflower and valerian into a cup
  • (Total amount should equal about a tablespoon)
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Allow to steep for 15 minutes
  • And drink
Menstrual Cramp Tea
  • Place equal parts of Oats, mugwort, chamomile and cramp bark into a cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Allow to steep for 15 minutes
  • And drink
  • Place the hot to warm cup onto the ‘sore spot’ as the heat will help to.

Other very good herbs for Menstrual cramps taken in capsules etc., are: Peony root, Cramp bark – very good and Primrose oil. With oats, both the seed and the straw are safe during both pregnancy and lactation as well.

You can grow oats as micro greens and use them in juices as well, similar to wheat grass.

Oat Straw Bath

  • Throw 2 -3 cups of oat straw into a large pot
  • Pour in 2 – 3 litres of water
  • Bring to boil and simmer for five minutes
  • Strain out the straw
  • Pour into a ready prepared bath
  • Soak to your hearts content

Oatmeal Sponge Bath

  • Place 500grams of ‘uncooked’ oatmeal into a loosely woven cloth bag
  • Tie up with a string
  • Place it under the hot running water whilst preparing your bath
  • Once your bath is ready, and the oatmeal is softened
  • Gently use the bag with the oatmeal as a sponge

You don’t have to use this in a bath setup and it is very helpful with conditions such as eczema and shingles.

Very Old Beauty Treatment

Nicholas Culpeper’s treatment (modified)

For the removal of freckles and spots on the face and other areas

  • Place enough oatmeal into a saucepan to cover the region wanted
  • Pour in enough vinegar to cover
  • Bring to boil and simmer for a few minutes
  • Allow to cool
  • Once cool enough apply to the face

How to grow

From seed

  • Prepare a decent sized container with rich potting mix
  • Evenly spread the seed over the top of the mix
  • You can have it close but not too close
  • Rake the seed into the mix
  • If you are planting the seed out in the garden, bury the seed at least 2.5cm / 1″ deep, to keep birds at bay
  • Water in
  • Keep the soil or mix slightly moist
  • After approximately 45 days depending on weather etc. you should be able to start harvesting
  • Depending how well the oats grow, they can reach anything from 60cm – 150cm / 2′ -5′

To the best of my knowledge, I don’t know of anybody propagating from cuttings or root division and probably not worth it anyway.

Maintenance

Due to the speed of the growth, so except for grasshoppers and other plant eating nasties, oats should be relatively easy to manage.

If you do get any disease it could be one of several things: Crown Rust, Yellow Dwarf Virus, Oats Halo Blight, Oat Leaf Blotch, Culm Rot or Stem Rust. But unless you are growing large crops then generally you should be fine and practice crop rotation and keep a hygenic garden.


Collecting

There is a simple test when to harvest the aerial parts, which at this stage can include young seed. This is described as ‘the milky stage’. Simply place the seed in between your two thumb nails and squeeze, and milky sap should come out. If you are specifically after the seed for things such as making your own rolled oats, then wait until the plant is mature and dry.

Drying

Place your harvest in a warm and dry area, spread it around as you are drying them out to cause even drying. Once they are fully dry, you can either store them or have a go at threshing them.

Storage

Store your product in a cool dry place in a airtight sealed jar or container and they should last approximately three months.




Herbalism.

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Health Care Professional first.

PARTS USED:

Aerial parts and seed

DOSAGE:

Aerial Parts: Infusion is 4 – 8 teaspoons per day

Seed: Minimum to maximum of dried powder is 3.0 – 6.0g per day

Rolled oats: simply a bowl a day

MAIN ACTIONS:

Aerial: Nervine tonic, anxiolytic, antipruritic, emollient, tonic, sedative, and antidepressant

Seed: Antipruritic, emollient, nervine tonic, tonic, antidepressant, lipid lowering, antihypertensive, blood sugar regulator, and mild thymoleptic

INDICATIONS:

Aerial: Fatigue – nervous, anxiety, insomnia, mild depression, dry skin, itching, eczema – bath, neurasthenia, shingles, herpes zoster, herpes simplex, and exhaustion. Convalescence, stress, plus nervous tension, 

Seed: Dry skin, itch, eczema, both topically and bath, neuralgia, anxiety, insomnia, mild depression, exhaustion, convalescence, stress, nervous tension, hyperlipidaemia, hypertension, hyper/hypoglycaemia, melancholia, menopausal neurasthenia, and general debility

CONSTITUENTS:

Aerial: Beta-glucan, triterpenoid, saponins, – avenacosides, alkaloids – avenue and trigonelline, sterol – avenasterol, flavonoids, starch, phytates, coumarins. Nutrients – silicic acid, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, zinc, vitamins A, B-complex, C, E, K, and amino acids

Seed: Beta-glucan, triterpenoid, saponins, – avenacosides, alkaloids – avenue and trigonelline, sterol – avenasterol, flavonoids, starch, phytates, coumarins. Nutrients – silicic acid, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, zinc, vitamins A, B-complex, C, E, K, and amino acids

SAFETY CONCERNS:

Pure certified organic oats, that have ‘not’ come in contact with other grains such as, wheat, barley and rye should not cause any trouble with coeliac or gluten intolerance. Always check before use if unsure. Do not use the seed/rolled oats if you have any intestinal obstruction.

ADULTERANTS:

None known



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-herbarius-logo-2.jpeg

Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is hhaimembertransparent.png

“Never made a mistake? How boring is your life?” – Herbal Panda

Ribwort

Now where to start?

In my last blog, I mentioned that you may have herbs basically at your own back door and not know it. For many people this is true, no matter where you are in the world, but for some this isn’t true. So what is at least one answer to deal with a lack of useful herbs, that’s easy, you import your herbs, no I don’t mean ordering a plant or cuttings or seeds online, although this is okay, and you may have to do this, but what I am suggesting first is to literally go and find a herb in your area, that’s not illegal to take of course, or at least you should ask, and then shove it in a pot a grow it yourself.

A simple place to start

A common herb, which is found in many countries and found close to or reasonably near to civilisation and most would declare a weed is “Ribwort” or it’s botanical name is Plantago lanceolata. Yes I know, it is not a very flattering name is it? But, it is simply excellent for upper respiratory issues as it’s actions are expectorant, demulcent, astringent, anti-inflammatory, anticatarral, antiseptic, mucus membrane tonic, and wound healing. And this being a list of so many human aliments, why wouldn’t you want such a useful herb right there. Which can be used for common conditions such as coughs, rhinitis, sinusitis, nasal catarrh, laryngitis, plus topically for wounds from cuts and abrasions, boths fresh or slow healing, haemorrhoids and mouth ulcers, and that is just for starters.

The Weed File

Plantago Lanceolata does have a few look-a-likes or close brothers if you will, the common one it is confused with is typically called Plantain, which has nothing to do with the thing that looks like a banana. The easiest way to recognise ribwort from plantain is th esize of the leaf, ribwort is long and skinny, and Plantain is broad and wide. Thankfully, they both function the same and mixing them up poses no safety issues.

Some other similar species with possible mix ups are Buck’s-Horn plantain (Plantago coronopus), Sago weed (Plantago cunninghammii, P. drummondi)

Some different species that can be mixed up especially as young plants are: Wireweed (Polygonum aviculare), Corn Spurry (Spergula arvensis), Purple Calandrinia (Calandrinia menziesii)

So how do I do this?

First you need to go and get it, typically it is found where man has interfered with the environment and people traffic through such as foot paths, road sides, fields and vacant lots. Plus it is found more often in areas or groun that tends to more moisture, meaning, if water was moving on top of the ground or just underneath, that little spot tends to stay damper for longer, it is near low lying areas or creeks or slightly more shaded areas, then that is where it is likely to be.

Take with you either damp paper or clean damp cloth and a long philps screwdriver or some other pointy object, locate the plant and use that pointy object to loosen around the roots and lift it out. Roll the damp paper or cloth around the plant and take it back home.

Planting Ribwort

Ribwort is just so simple to plant and care for, Prepare container that’s about 150mm or 6″ in diameter, with some good potting mix, or good soil with compost, and slightly moisten the mix. Then poke a hole about as deep as the root system and just put it in the hole and with your fingers, press around it to stand it up, water inand keep the soil moist from then on, and there you are, it’ll just keep going and going. Always just sitting there, fresh and ready to be used. Personally, I would suggest always keeping it in pots, so as not to spread it all over the country side as this will encourage others to use herbicides, and we frankly just don’t need more poisons.

From seed

Ribwort is quite easy to grow from seed, and you can obtain this seed from the plant itself or buy then online. With any plant which some will call weeds, you may not be able to buy into your state or region.

  • Simply prepare a container with potting mix
  • Make a few holes in it
  • Drop a few seeds into the holes
  • Cover over
  • And well water in
  • In a short while up they come and your away

Maintenance

Ribwort does get pests such as aphids and some moths and other diseases, generally these are not so serious and so long as it is given basic care, that is, some water every now and again, and a spot of fertiliser, it will be fine. Of course it won’t survive snow and ice, but some seed can survive at times until spring.

Due to having a ‘tap root’ it tends to indicate, that the soil in that area has or is becoming compacted, therefore a simple help to remove it out of your lawns and fields is to open up and loosen the soil. This is why regular cultivation, that is, loosening it up reduces it population.

Here’s my very own Ribwort that I have had for several years
A closeup of the leaf for further pictures see the gallery

How do you use it?

So how would you use it for coughs or a sore throat, for example; simply cut off two of the fresh leaves about the same size as the photos above, chop them up a bit with a knife, chuck them into a cup or mug, pour in some freshly boiled water and cover, and wait a 10 minutes. You don’t have to, but you can then strain out the leaves add a suitable sweetener if required such as stevia, raw honey, monk fruit or erythritol, and drink. To help, and not too hot, you can gargle it as well.

You can make a similar tea as above out of the seeds, just use one teaspoon instead of the leaves, or use one tablespoon of dried leaves.

It can add many additional herbs to this simple recipe above if you wish, such as lemon balm or lemon grass, parsley or oregano, even sage, who knows really? An excellent herb to add is echinacea root, which is stronger than the echinacea leaf. In this case, I would make a decoction of the root by boiling it for 30-40 minutes, then add the Ribwort (or any other herbs) once you have turned off the heat, and leave it covered for about 10 minutes. Then drink slowly, but try to finish the drink before it gets cold, as hot teas seem to soothe sore throats and softens mucus.

Culinary Uses

The young leaves can be used in salads, with a slightly bitter taste, older leaves are not very good for salads, butu are fine for teas and decoctions.

The seeds, husks and flower heads are edible and are an excellent source of fibre for your diet. The famous ‘psyllium husks’ sometimes called Fleaseed, Plantago psyllium, is in the very same family as ribwort. The seeds due to their mucilage content can be placed into hot boiling water, which then turn into a jelly-like consistency, these can be added to fruit drinks and smoothies to add a thickener.

If your a rabbit or similar such as a guinea pig you also can eat ribwort.


Collection

The leaves can technically be harvested at any time, but for used in fresh salads only choose young ones, but for herbalism, teas and decoctions it is better to be collected just before or during blossoming time. Don’t remove all the leaves as you don’t want the plant to die off, and you may need some later, only harvest no more than 1/2 to 2/3rds of the plant maximum. Always make sure that the leaves are free from defects, such as insect bites, discolouration and any fungi, plus any chemicals, sprays and other poisons.

Drying

Simply place the leaves on a dry, clean kitchen towel, or paper towel in a well ventilated room, once the leaves are completely dry, place them into a sealed glass container and label. If kept dry, clean and cool and in a dark place, it should keep for up to two years. If you see or smell mouldiness then throw it out.

Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

Parts used:

Leaf and flower and seed head

Dosage:

6.0 – 12.0 grams

Main actions:

Expectorant – global, demulcent, astringent, anti-inflammatory, anti-catarrhal, antiseptic, mucus membrane tonic, and wound healing

Indications:

All types of coughs, nasal catarrh – rhinitis, sinusitis, laryngitis, slow healing wounds – topically, haemorrhoids, and mouth ulcers

Constituents:

Anthraquinone glycosides, phenolics, and tannins

Safety concerns:

Pregnancy and lactation, in high doses, otherwise none known

Adulterants:

Adulterated with similar species of Rheum



As I continue this blog I intend to add more useful, yet easy to grow herbs, which you can keep at your back door, veranda, patio, carport or even on the landing of your apartment. So follow along as there’s so much more to discover.


Please remember, this blog cannot replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a. The Herbarius

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au