Oats are one of the most nutritious foods there are and their health benefits have been confirmed time and time again, plus, they make a delicious meal.
But, did you know that the extracts derived from the green straws of unripened oat plants (Avena sativa) contain potentially nootropic phytochemicals?
Because of these properties, the plant has been used in traditional medicine to treat diverse conditions, including insomnia and anxiety for a long time.
The phytochemicals in the oat plant contain numerous compounds that can modulate the human brain function.
They do this by interacting with neurotransmitter receptors, either directly or indirectly.
Several studies, both mouse and human model, were conducted in the past to demonstrate this nootropic property of the oat plant extract.
The mouse model study demonstrated that the extract had a beneficial effect on the response to stressors and social behavior , while the human model focused on the effect of single doses, which increased the speed of performance post-dose, and an overall improvement in brain function was also observed.
In a recent study, however, a group of scientists from Germany and the UK assessed both the short-term and long-term psychotropic effects of taking Avena sativa extract.
How Was the Study Conducted?
The study was placebo-controlled and double-blind, which means that none of the participants or researchers had any additional info that might influence their behavior during the testing period of 29 days.
A total of 132 healthy adult participants between the ages of 35 to 65 were randomly put into four groups.
One of them was the placebo group, and the other three were instructed to take different doses of green oat herbal extract, namely, 300mg, 600mg, and 900mg.
The pill was taken once a day, and the long-lasting and short-lasting effects were assessed pre-dose, and 2h and 4h post-dose, on both the first day and the last day.
In between, the participants were in their own homes, taking their prescribed doses each morning.
The goal was to evaluate the changes in mood, as well as assess general cognitive function, and changes in psychological state during a laboratory stressor.
What Were the Results?
The study was successful, as there were notable cognitive improvements in the participants.
The improvements in both cases, the single-dose and the 29-day supplementation depended largely on the dose.
The highest dose of 900mg was found to be the most beneficial, however, the lowest dose of 300mg was also very close.
On the last day of the trial, after regularly taking Avena sativa extract, the participants demonstrated positive cognitive changes both an hour pre-dose, and 2h and 4h post-dose, which points to the long-lasting effects of the extract when taken regularly.
It’s also worth mentioning that despite the overall improved cognitive function and working memory, the participants demonstrated an improved ability to multitask, which these scientists view as a very helpful property for the demands of today’s world.
According to them, the exact mechanisms of action supporting the cognitive benefits are difficult to pinpoint, considering the complex phytochemistry of green oats extract.
However, it should be noted that the extract’s ability to inhibit the enzyme that metabolizes dopamine may be one of the primary mechanisms, as this enzyme has an important part in working memory and executive function.
But, while there were notable cognitive changes, no major effects on mood were observed, albeit the possibility shouldn’t be excluded and should be further investigated, given that the Avena sativa extract is only beginning to gain recognition.
What’s the Conclusion?
The findings of this study are obviously very promising and make a solid foundation for not only further studies but also for possible widespread use of the green oat extract.
The cognitive improvements they recorded seem to be very beneficial and in line with the previous studies, as well as anecdotal historical evidence.