If you spend any time in the natural health space, you’ve probably heard the term “milky oats.” If you’ve spent any time in the Instagram natural health community, the term is likely accompanied by a picture of bright green and white wild oats. This plant, Aneva sativa, is known to have many benefits in the natural health world, but how much stock should you place in this trendy remedy?
As it turns out, quite a bit.
To introduce you, we’ve put together this “milky oats guide” to answer any and all questions you may have. The plant makes an excellent salve for itchy skin and can help with anxiety. However, if you experience any of these conditions chronically, we recommend seeking out a health professional to better control symptoms.
What Makes Milky Oats So Special?
The entire plant is rich in silica, magnesium, phosphorus, chromium, iron, alkaloids, protein, iron, several vitamin Bs, vitamin A, and vitamin C. If this sounds like a plant designed to calm nerves and aid in sleep and digestion, you’re right! Oats are considered to be one of the best remedies for “feeding” the nervous system when experiencing anxiety and general exhaustion. Milky oats help mellow your mood, ease anxiety, and resolve sleeplessness. It’s almost like a better-researched CBD alternative.
However, milky oats are for more than ingestion. The white sap inside is an excellent relief for itchy skin conditions, like poison ivy and chicken pox. That said, if you have a more intense skin condition, like eczema, this might not be strong enough.
Milky oats and oatstraw, the green stem oats grow from, are safe for almost everyone, including babies, expecting parents, and the elderly. However, if you have celiac disease, this might not be the natural medicine for you.
How to Identify Genuine Milky Oats
Milky oats are the oat tops harvested while in their “milky” stage, or when the oat tops release a white, milky sap when squeezed. The stage lasts only about one week and often occurs after the oat begins to flower but before the seed hardens into the grain we know so well – the one that goes into breads and oatmeal.
While milky oats are only harvestable for a week out of the year, tincturing the plant while fresh will preserve its potency. The oats can also be dried and used in tonics and tea blends.
Growing and Harvesting Oats
One of the best things about milky oats is the ease with which you can grow them at home. Spring is the best time to sow the plant; oats planed in the spring do well for a mid-to-late summer harvest. Here’s a quick, step-by-step guide to getting your little oat plot up and running.
- Rake the soil to loosen the dirt.
- Plant the oat seeds by hand. Keep the seeds very close together to suppress weed germination.
- Rake the seeds into the soil and/or cover them with one inch of soil. This will protect them from birds.
- Water regularly.
When seed heads begin to appear, squeeze their tops daily to ensure you don’t miss the milky stage. To harvest, simply pinch the stem between two fingers and slide up; the grains will pop off one at a time.