Common Name: Oats
Latin name: Avena sativa
Family: Poaceae (Grass family)
Parts used: fresh milky green seed heads, dried stalk, dried seeds
Tissue or system affinity: nervous system, mucous membranes, skin
Taste: slightly sweet
Energetics: neutral & moistening
Actions: nervine, nutritive, mineralizer
Uses: Oats are really overlooked as an herb. Milky oats (tincture of the milky seed heads) are used to restore depleted, overstimulated, and damaged nerves. Some herbalists classify milky oats as a trophorestorative, which refers to an herb that has a particular affinity for an organ or organ system that corrects imbalance through vital nourishment and replenishment.
The dried stalk (oatstraw) is used as an herbal infusion to remineralize the body (calcium, magnesium, other nutrients and trace minerals). It is commonly prepared as an infusion which is a longer steep of 2-4 hours. You can drink 2-4 cups at a time. It is often combined with nettles (Urtica dioica).
Oat porridge is traditionally used in many cultures as a easy-to-digest food for those who are ill or recovering from illness. It will also moisten dry mucous membranes (think of the mouth all the way south) and soothe irritated, red skin (oat bath).
Side note: Out of all of the grains, oats have the highest amount of phytates, an anti-nutrient that can block absorption of vitamins and minerals. You can denature these anti-nutrients by soaking the oats in their cooking water with an added tablespoon of kefir, yogurt, or liquid whey (start soaking the night before preparation).
You can also just let the oats sour naturally by soaking them in water and letting them sit for 3-5 days before cooking them. Finally, you can make a sourdough starter from oat flour and put a spoonful of that starter into your oats or oat flour to sour (they will just have to sit over night and then you can cook in the morning).