“Go forth and sow your wild oats, my son!”, my Dad used to say when I was a teenager.
This well known catchphrase refers to some of the benefits of eating oats.
The answer to easing my troubled mind was probably sitting in our pantry, if only I had known about it at the time.
Still, it was hardly the kind of thing I wanted to hear when I was already feeling awkward and nervous about the night ahead.
My father was a bit of a nutter.
In any case, the health benefits of oat straw extract have been a popular topic of folklore since medieval times.
Oats have been used to treat skin issues, heart disease, and to enhance sex drive in men.
In particular, young oat straw seeds have been found to be very effective as a ‘Nervine Treatment’.
The young tops of the oat plant before they mature have a milky consistency when crushed, and can be used as an herbal remedy for anxiety and stress.
Oat straw has also been found to increase energy, improve cognition, and elevate mood.
Neuro-hackers are starting to realize just how valuable oat straw extract can be as a nootropic.
Add to that its’ easy accessibility, and reasonable price tag, and you’ve got a real winner!
So without further ado, I’m going to explain how oat straw extract acts as a nootropic in an attempt to showcase it’s true value.
The Health Benefits of Oat Straw Extract – History
The modest oat plant, or Avena Sativa, has been cultivated as a food grain for almost 3,000 years.
The Romans used it as feed for their horses, and folklore has it that people in Scotland were the first to start eating it as a hot cereal in the morning.
The oat plant is descended from A. Sterilis, a cross between wheat and barley, and it was first grown in the Fertile Crescent between Israel and Western Iran.
Oat straw tea was then used to boost mental health, and to calm the nerves in Medieval Europe.
Recently, nutritionists have found that oats are excellent for preventing heart disease and stroke.
Beta-Glucan is a type of fiber that soaks up cholesterol and other fats as it runs through the GI tract, and oats are loaded with it.
Studies have shown that eating oatmeal daily will help improve peoples’ blood lipid profiles, all other things being equal.
Ground up oat powder is often used for irritated skin, and is a common ingredient in many cosmetics.
I used to put oat powder in the bath for my daughter when she was a baby. It does wonders for diaper rash.
Oats have also been found to provide a more gradual increase in blood sugar than white rice or bread, which makes it a great food choice for diabetics.
This means that oats can provide a nice steady flow of energy throughout the day without a blood sugar crash.
So now that we have an idea of what oats can do for our general health, what can a concentrated oat extract do for our brains?
Oat Straw Extract – Nootropic Benefits
There are a few key ways that oat straw extract can improve cognition.
This is the short list:
- Cerebral Circulation
- Alpha Brain Wave Enhancement
One of the active ingredients in oats, Avenanthramides, have been shown to increase levels of Nitric Oxide(NO) in smooth muscle cells.
What are smooth muscle cells?
They’re the epithelial cells of the body; they account for the majority of cells in your intestines, skin, arteries, and veins.
When smooth muscle cells come in contact with nitric oxide, they open up, or dilate.
When cerebral blood vessels allow more oxygen and nutrients to get to the brain, cognitive function is improved.
The avenanthramides in oats also have the ability to suppress the effects of cytokines during an immune system response.
Basically, when your immune system senses that there is a threat somewhere in the body, it encourages the production of cytokines in order to increase circulation to the area.
This is the inflammatory response.
Normally, this is a good thing. More blood flow to the area means that the immune system can send more white cells to fight off invading bacteria and the like.
However, when the inflammatory response is too severe, it can cause damage to certain tissues like arteries and veins, resulting in atherosclerosis and other vascular disorders.
The avenanthramides in oats permit the cytokines to signal the inflammatory response, and dilate the blood vessels in the brain.
However, they also reduce the intensity of the response so that it doesn’t cause damage, effectively modulating the immune response.
Clear as mud?
Oat Straw Extract Benefits – Boosts Mood & Enhances Creativity
Oat straw extract increases the amount of dopamine in the brain by blocking the effects of monoamine-oxidase B(MAO-B).
MAO-B is an enzyme that reabsorbs dopamine as a normal part of brain metabolism.
Preventing the uptake of dopamine could certainly explain the ‘feel good’ experience many people have when they consume oat straw extract.
It also explains the, “Go sow your wild oats”, thing.
Dopamine has been studied extensively for its’ key role in sexual arousal, especially in men.
Studies have also shown that taking oat straw extract results in slight improvements in memory, reaction times, and a stronger resistance to stress.
Theta brain wave activity has been proven to increase significantly while performing concentration tasks just 2 hours after supplementing with oat straw extract.
Theta brain waves are closely associated with creativity and free flow mental states.
We also know that oat straw extract inhibits the effects of phosphodiesterase-4(PDE-4), which is an enzyme involved with inflammatory immune responses.
Suppressing the effects of PDE-4 benefits brain health by dilating cerebral blood vessels, and protects the CNS from attack.
When taken into consideration together, these mechanisms do a pretty good job of explaining how oat straw extract protects our nerves from stress.
It’s also believed that the suppression of MAO-B and PDE-4 gives oat straw the ability to combat major depression.
However, the research in this area is still inconclusive…
Another footnote I should let you know about briefly; researchers also found that the cognitive enhancement seen in healthy individuals was pretty minimal.
By comparison, test subjects who were suffering from mild cognitive impairment(MCI) showed the most improvement.
In other words, a normal, healthy individual will not see too much performance enhancement. Oat straw extract is not a super nootropic like NALT.
But older folks who are experiencing mental decline from age, or who may be dealing with a condition like dementia will really notice the difference.
Oat straw extract can ‘bring them back to normal’, so to speak.
OK. So we have established that oat straw extract is a pretty good nootropic, and have a fair idea of how it works.
What’s the best way to use it as a supplement?
Oat Straw Extract – Where’s the Research Today?
The most current clinical trials on oat straw extract have been funded by a company called Frutarom Health Ltd.
Frutarom recently won an award for the ‘Best Cognitive Health Ingredient of the Year’.
They have over 90 R&D labs worldwide, and went to the trouble of testing 36 different varieties of Avena Sativa.
Finally, they were able to develop Avena Sativa L., a specific strain of green oats that provides the best benefits for nerve function in humans.
Fascinating stuff, don’t you think?!
Avena Sativa L. is now available on the market as Neuravena, a pure oat straw extract made using Frutaroms’ patented ‘Hyperpure Technology’.
As with all herbal nootropics, the effectiveness of a supplement can vary based on the quality of the raw ingredients, and the method of extraction.
If you can get your hands on Neuravena, it’s basically the golden standard for this type of supplement.
It’s what I like to call, ‘A sure thing’.
That being said, there are a lot of other options available to you out in the world…
Oat Straw Extract Dosage – Need to Know Guide
Oat straw extract is available as a powder, tea, tincture, or in capsules.
The recommended dosage for powders and capsules is 800-1,600mg/day.
You should look for a ‘Certified Organic’ product to ensure it’s effective and free of any contaminants.
Tinctures typically use alcohol as a solvent, and are not as potent as extracts.
If you can manage to find a good extract, look for either a 10:1 or 20:1 ratio. The 10:1 ratio means that 10 times the amount of raw oat straw was used to create 1 unit of the extract.
Do the math. A 20:1 ratio means an even more potent extract, so if you can find a 20:1, that’s your best option.
Oat Straw Extract Side Effects – Should you be Worried?
Oat straw is a food grade product, so unless you are allergic to it, there are no contraindications for side effects.
The only caution I would give you is that if you do go over the maximum recommended dosage of 1,600mg/day, you could raise the dopamine levels in your brain to a pretty high level.
You could experience issues with insomnia if you take your supplement closer to the end of the day.
The best way to supplement with oat straw extract is to shoot for 800mg/day.
The studies that were conducted found that there was little to no benefit for most test subjects after that point.
They all ‘peaked’ at around the 800-1,000mg/day mark.
Oat Straw Extract – Final Thoughts
Avena Sativa, or green oats, have some significant nootropic benefits.
When taking an oat straw extract or supplement, neuro-hackers can expect to see increased levels of dopamine.
This elevates mood, improves memory & reaction times, and gives libido a boost.
It may even help them shake off any feelings of depression.
Oat straw extract increases blood flow to the brain, and helps protect the nervous system from inflammation and stress.
Moments of Zen can also be enjoyed thanks to enhanced Theta brainwave activity. Creativity can also see a boost.
The health benefits of oat straw extract are very impressive! It’s a great natural nootropic that’s extremely safe and affordable.
I sincerely hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it!
If you have any questions that come to mind, please leave a comment, and I’ll get right back to you.
In my next article, I will go over the many nootropic benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushroom! Hope you like fungus!
Until next time,
P.S. – If you find a good oat straw supplement, please post a comment. I’d love to share your knowledge with other members of the nootropics community.