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Herbalism 101: Tincturing Fresh Milky Oats

This is a tutorial on making the tincture for yourself. I do realize that not everyone has the desire or the ability to make their own Milky Oats tincture. Fortunately, I made enough for both of us and you can purchase it here:

Avena Sativa is the latin name for common oats. Clinically, herbalists use both the unripe oat seed tops (fresh milky oats, pictured below), as well as the whole plant, ripened and dried, which is referred to as oatstraw.

I freeze my fresh milky oats before tincturing. This breaks down the plant's cell walls, making the medicinal constituents of the plant more available for extracting via tincture. The difference in color between a frozen and unfrozen milky oats tincture is remarkable. The tincture of frozen oats is a vibrant, spring green, and the efficacy is second to none.

Why should you be taking this tincture? Excellent question.

  1. As a nervine, Milky Oats are, quite literally, food for your nerves. Taken over time, this tincture will strengthen the frazzled nervous system.

  2. Milky Oats is useful for nervous exhaustion, circular thinking, depression with roots in mental exhaustion, emotional crises, high-stress situations (either acute or ongoing), insomnia with irritability, PMS, and Menopausal Syndrome.

  3. I sent a family member a bottle and named it, "Get Out of Jail Free," with instructions to take it when she feels murdery. By all accounts, it's a hit.

  4. Milky Oats are useful as a sexual tonic for both men and women. I think it is especially useful when the weight of the world makes even the idea of intimacy difficult.

  5. Taken before challenging conversations or when dealing with difficult people, Milky Oats calms the nervous system in a way that helps to put the situation in perspective. Think of it as the perfect remedy for shoulders that are riding up near your ears.

  6. Milky Oats are useful for premenstrual headaches and occipital headaches.

  7. Milky Oats are used for symptoms of drug withdrawal. In this case I would likely combine with Skullcap and Passionflower. The dosing in this instance would be quite high.

So. How can you make your own Milky Oats Tincture?

What you'll need:

-Fresh milky oats tops.

-A good blender and a soft spatula.

-A scale that will measure in grams.

-190 proof ethyl alcohol (if you don't have access to this, buy the highest proof clear alcohol you can find, like a 100 proof vodka). This is your menstruum.

-A glass measuring cup (like Pyrex) that has a 200ml marking.

-mason jars, for storage.

-A canning funnel, to reduce waste and mess

-A Sharpie. Every herbalist stretching all the way back to the Garden of Eden (probably) has made the mistake of thinking, 'I'll remember what's in this jar," and I promise you, IT'S A LIE.

What you'll do:

  1. You can certainly grow your own oats. I do not. You can do a search for "fresh milky oats farmers" and find growers who will harvest and overnight oats in the milky stage.

  2. Pop your oat tops in the freezer for 24 hours.

  3. Get your gear ready. Sterilize your jar(s), funnel, spatula. A quick wash in hot, soapy water is sufficient.

  4. A tincture of fresh milky oats is traditionally 1:2 weight/volume. meaning for every 100g of plant material, you'll use 200ml of 190 proof alcohol. If you are going to use 100 proof vodka, you'll be making a 1:1.75 tincture and add 175ml of vodka to 100g of plant material. It will be important that you ensure that all of your plant material is submersed in alcohol. I'd also advise that you shake it daily. Shaking is not necessary for a 190 proof tincture, because at that strength, the alcohol, over time, will dehydrate the plant material, therefore drawing into solution all of the desired constituents of the plant. The vodka tincture, having more water, will need a little assistance to do that.

  5. Set the jar of your mixer on the scale and zero it out. Add 100g of plant material to the jar. Using your Pyrex, measure 200ml of alcohol (175ml for the 100 proof vodka). Add that to your blender. Blend. The idea is that you want the maximum amount of plant material surface area coming into contact with the menstruum (alcohol). I have a Smoothie setting on my blender and use that. I'm not trying to liquify the plant material, but rather chunk it up really well.

  6. Pour your tincture into your sterilized jar(s), screw on the lid(s), and use that Sharpie to write:

Fresh Milky Oats

1:2 100%

The date

or, for the 100 proof vodka:

Fresh Milky Oats

1:1.75 50%

The date

You'll store your tincture in a dark space for 4-6 weeks before straining it. If using 100 proof vodka, remember to give it a shake every day. Once strained, your tincture is good for 5 years.


Strictly speaking, this is a plant for everyone. Those who are gluten sensitive or intolerant need to do some research when sourcing their Avena Sativa. Because various grains are often farmed in adjacent fields, cross-contamination is a common challenge with oats. A quick search for "gluten free fresh milky oats" will take you to farmers who are committed to providing gluten-free oats and oat tinctures.

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