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Avena Sativa.

Botanical name:

The unripe seed of the Avena sativa, Linné, and the farina derived from the ripened seed (Nat. Ord. Graminaceae). Probably indigenous to Sicily and to an island off the coast of Chili. Cultivated everywhere.
Common Names: Oat, Common Oat.

Principal Constituents.—Starch, oil, albumen, potassium and magnesium salts, silica, and a nitrogenous body, avenine.
Preparations.—1. Avenae Farina, Oatmeal. Chiefly a food and to prepare oatmeal water.
2. Tinctura Avenae, Tincture of Avena. (Cover best unripe oats [in "milk"] with strong alcohol.) Dose, 1/2 to 2 fluidrachms.
3. Specific Medicine Avena. Dose, 1/2 to 2 fluidrachms.
Specific Indications.—Nervous exhaustion; nervous debility of convalescence; cardiac weakness of nervous depression; nocturnal losses following fevers and from the nervous erethism of debility; nervous headache from overwork or depression.

Action and Therapy.—Oatmeal water is sometimes useful to dilute "baby foods" and milk when children are not well nourished and suffering from summer diarrhoeal disorders. It is also used as a demulcent drink in diarrhea and dysentery of adults. When so used, it should be about the consistence of milk.

Oatmeal gruel, when not otherwise contraindicated, as in diabetes mellitus or amylaceous indigestion, is an excellent and easily digested food in convalescence from exhaustive illness. It may be sweetened if desired.

A paste, made by moistening a small quantity of oatmeal, held in the hands, with water, will soften roughened skin of the palms and fingers; and also remove the odor of some substances, as iodoform.

Tincture of Avena is a mild stimulant and nerve tonic. It is regarded by many as a remedy of some importance for nervous debility, and for affections bordering closely upon nervous prostration. It seemingly acts well in the exhaustion following typhoid and other low fevers and is thought to hasten convalescence, particularly where there is much nervous involvement and enfeebled action of the heart. In the nervous erethism or the enervated conditions following fevers and giving rise to spermatic losses it is sometimes effectual, but it seldom benefits such a state when due to prostatic irritation, masturbation, or sexual excesses. It may be given to relieve spasms of the neck of the bladder; and in some cases of relapsing rheumatism. Webster asserts it is useful, not as an antirheumatic, but for the debility underlying the rheumatic diathesis, so that the patient is less affected by meteorologic influences. Probably its chief value as a medicine is to energize in nervous exhaustion with or without spasms. It is useful in headache from exhaustion or overwork, or the nervous headache of menstruation. It is not a remedy of great power and will be found effective, probably, in but few of the conditions mentioned. However, many agents of this type sometimes, in exceptional cases, accomplish that which no other remedy seems to do. To fortify some of the claims made for this remedy is to unwisely challenge the credulity of physicians of bedside experience. The much-heralded reputation of this drug to enable the morphine habitué to throw off the habit has not been sustained. In our own experience we have utterly failed to accomplish any good with it in any form of drug habit.


The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 1922, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D.



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