Oat grass (Avena sativa) has been cultivated for its edible grain crop for thousands of years. Oat seeds dating back to 2000 years have been found in Egypt, although, these were probably from wild oats. Cultivation as a food crop started in Europe around the Bronze Age and then spread throughout the world. Oats tolerate cold climate very well and some of the major commercial producers are USA, Canada, Belarus, Finland, Poland and Germany.
The Roman historian, Pliny, and his contemporaries, mention the use of oats as a topical, skin-soothing treatment in the medical texts of their time. Oats, and the extracts made from them, became popular in cosmetics after information was published in the 1930s about the ability of oats to relieve itching and to protect skin.
Used widely as animal feed, oats are also a highly nutritious and popular food source for us. Oat grain in its natural state takes a long time to cook, and oat flakes, which are rolled, flattened and flaked to make them more convenient to prepare, are now very popular. Rolled oats infused in water produce a, cooling and calming liquid known as oat milk.
While we are probably most familiar with oats cooked into porridge, oats are also used in savoury dishes, cereals and cakes. Ancient Romans recognised the beneficial properties, both externally and internally, and there are mentions of the nutritional and health benefits of oats in many Roman writings of the time.
Oats are a source of calcium, iron and vitamin B1. They are high in carbohydrates and contain more protein and lipids (fat) than other grains. Oats also contain avenanthramides, a type of antibiotic produced by the plant, which act as an antioxidant and may contribute to the topical soothing effect of the grain. Cosmetic and medicinal preparations containing oats and oat extracts have been shown to be anti-inflammatory, to relieve itchy, irritated skin and to help with allergic reactions as oats are antihistamic.
Old remedies for using whole oats and oat milk include poultices pressed directly onto sore skin and colloidal oat treatments made from infusing oats in water and using the resulting starchy liquid to soothe itchy, dry or sensitive skin. Doctors may recommend oatmeal baths for the treatment of infants with skin problems.
We’ve put whole oats inside the muslin bag of loveliness that is our Ceridwyn’s Cauldron bath melt. A traditional way of enjoying the effects of oats, the skin is left softened and nourished.