Avena. Avena sativa.

Botanical name: 


Avenin, fixed oil.


Specific Medicine Avena. Dose, from five to sixty minims.
Concentrated Tincture Avena. Dose, from five to thirty minims.

As a nerve stimulant and permanent tonic, this valuable agent was comparatively unknown, when the first edition was issued. The writer took the responsibility of introducing it here through the confidence acquired by observing its prompt and satisfactory action during an experience of twenty years in the treatment of nervous diseases. There are many well-known and lauded agents that are hardly to be compared with this for prompt action upon the nervous system.

AdministrationAvena Sativa should always be given in appreciable doses. Fifteen drops, three or four times daily, well diluted, will usually meet the case. It may be given in doses of from five to sixty drops in rare instances. It should, however, never be given in larger quantities than twenty minims unless the patient is thoroughly accustomed to the remedy, and has found the usual dose insufficient. Otherwise there is danger of obtaining the physiological effect of the drug, which is announced by pain at the base of the brain. When this symptom makes its appearance the medicine should be discontinued for a day or two, and then given in reduced doses.

If administered in hot water during the day, its action is much quicker, and in cold water at night on retiring it has a more extended influence. When given in hot water, its action at times, is almost instantaneous.

Physiological Action—Its selective influence is directly upon the brain and upon the nutritive functions of the organism, increasing nerve force and improving the nutrition of the entire system. The influence of a single full dose is promptly felt, similar to the influence of any active stimulant, but more permanent. It is a stimulant, sedative and direct nutritive tonic, apparently restoring the wasted elements of nerve force.

Specific Symptomatology—The following indications for the use of this remedy are given by King: Spasmodic and nervous disorders, with exhaustion; the nervous debility of convalescence, cardiac weakness, from nervous exhaustion; spermatorrhea, with the nervous erythism of debility. In general neurasthenia it promptly relieves the almost unbearable occipital headache, so constant, and evidenced by an enormous waste of the phosphates in the urine, common with nervous exhaustion.

It is a remedy of great utility in loss of nerve power and in muscular feebleness from lack of nerve force.

In the overworked conditions of brain workers-ministers, physicians or lawyers—in the general prostration from great anxiety and worry, it acts in the same lines as phosphorus and in many cases fully as satisfactorily.

With these, there is so-called nervous dyspepsia, atonicity, in fact, of the entire gastrointestinal tract. There is heart feebleness with some irregularity; there is cool skin and cool or cold extremities: there is melancholia, irritability, peevishness, vagaries of thought, morbid desires and fancies, usually accompanied with autotoxemia which demands persistent elimination. With these avena is directly indicated.

In sexual neurasthenia it is the remedy par excellence, as it has a selective influence upon the nerve structure of the genito-urinary apparatus.

Therapy—It will be found directly serviceable in paralysis and wasting disease of the aged, in nerve tremors, and especially in chorea and in paralysis agitans. It has been beneficial in epilepsy.

In the convalescence of prostrating disease, and during the asthenic or later stages of inflammatory and exanthematous disease and diphtheria, it is as important as quinine and strychnia, and certainly as reliable.

The local paralysis of diphtheria, has no better antidote, and if given in hot infusion during the course of acute exanthematous disease, it quickly determines the eruption to the surface and promotes convalescence.

Because of its selective action upon the nervous structure which supplies the reproductive organs, it will be found to allay nervous excitement, nervous palpitation of the heart, insomnia and mental weakness, or failure and general debility caused by masturbation, over sexual indulgence, or onanism. It is a sovereign remedy in impotency. This writer has had better satisfaction in the use of this agent in the temporary impotence of young newly married men, than from any other single remedy or combination of remedies. If there be prostatic or other local irritation, a combination of this agent with saw palmetto will cover the field.

In uterine or ovarian disorders with hysterical manifestations it is of much service. The nervous headaches of the menstrual epoch, especially those accompanied with burning on the top of the head, and sick headaches apparently from disordered stomach at this time, or in fact sick headache at any time if accompanied with nervous weakness, are all promptly benefited by Avena Sativa, provided gastric acidity is neutralized. In atonic amenorrhea with great feebleness, it is valuable. In neuralgic and congestive dysmenorrhea, with slow and imperfect circulation and cold skin and extremities, it is an excellent remedy.

Dr. Simmons of Toledo, Ohio, in the Gleaner, mentioned the use of avena in acute coryza. His method resulted in a manner highly satisfactory in every case. Those who are subject to colds in the head, he furnishes with a small vial of specific avena. With the first indication he has them take twenty drops of hot water. This may be repeated or increased to thirty or forty drops in two hours, but the third dose is usually sufficient to remove every evidence of coryza if present, and to prevent its occurence. The first evidences of its action may appear in five minutes. If twenty drops do not produce a feeling of warmth in the face and flushing of the skin, the next dose is increased.

This agent exercises a restorative power in overcoming the habits of alcohol, tobacco, morphine, and opium. It will enhance the value of other prescribed agents.

In the treatment of the morphine habit, our subsequent experience has not confirmed our early anticipations, and yet it is a useful addition to the treatment. It should be used in conjunction with capsicum, strychnine, xanthoxylum, or hyoscyamine hydrochlorate, and sustained in its action by persistent concentrated nutrition.

In conjunction with cactus, or apocynum, as these remedies are indicated, it will be found of much service in the treatment of weak heart, and the resulting complications. Webster lays much stress upon its action as a remedy to prevent the recurrence of cardiac rheumatism. This influence would be facilitated by combination with specific alteratives, and remedies that will facilitate the elimination of uric acid, without depressing the action of the heart.

The persistent use of this remedy, especially if conjoined with capsicum or minute doses of strychnine, will be found of great assistance in certain cases of paralysis. Its nerve restorative and persistently tonic properties are exercised fully here.

In a case of cerebral hemorrhage, from which recovery was not to be expected, Dr. French used ergot and avena with bromide as an occasional sedative, with satisfactory results. He says: "I also give avena for the symptoms of nervous breakdown and exhaustion, regardless of the name of the special disease from which they may be suffering. Some patients claim to realize almost instantaneous effects on taking it while others are less easily affected. In all well-known cases selected for the indications of paralysis and deficiency of nerve power, it seems to me to be good."

Co-operatives—It works in harmony with strychnine in its stimulating influence, but is more permanent in its effect. It exercises an influence Similar to quinine after prostrating fevers and is similar to coca and phosphorus in its restorative powers. Zanthoxylum will enhance its general stimulant influence, and it may be combined with cimicifuga and scutellaria and gelsemium in chorea. It is antagonized by nerve depressants and nerve sedatives which exercise no stimulant or restorative influence.

There is no danger of forming the habit of taking the drug, as it can be suddenly abandoned at any time without evil consequences, even when given in large quantities.

The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, 1919, was written by Finley Ellingwood, M.D.
It was scanned by Michael Moore for the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.