Don’t Mow the Grass Please

By the time August and September roll around in this household, every cup hook, doorknob, drawer pull and curtain rod to name a few are loaded up with bundles of herbs from the garden & the wild. Jars line the counter tops with tinctures and liniment preparations of assorted shapes and colors. Not to mention the screens strewn across any surface that will hold them flat for drying dandelion leaves, grasses and others. To the normal person this behavior may seem quite odd but it’s pretty common around here.

Yes, I have some explaining to do when people see weeds hanging and grass drying on screens. It’s the inevitable question, WHAT, pray tell are you doing with that? I said that in my best sister voice. She even thinks I’m weird but I happen to think there is a use for every single living plant on this Earth. Grass included. I’m not referring to the Kentucky Blue that adorns most people’s front yards. No, not the kind that people strive so hard to maintain every year. I am referring to the kind you can just throw into a garden bed, water and let grow. This isn’t the kind of grass that requires mowing. As a matter of fact, the seed is the most important part of this grass and the part we are striving for. I am referring to oat grass or Avena sativa.

Oat grass AKA oat straw grows in the wild here in Ute Country and is easily recognizable by its seed. Once the grass has grown to 3 or 4 feet tall and the seeds emerge, the squeeze test begins.  When the seed pops when squeezed and bleeds a white milky substance, this is the magic of the oat seed. That white milky substance is one of the best nerve healing medicines known to herbalists and who in this crazy world couldn’t use a little of that?

Frayed nerves are a real thing. The myelin sheath that surrounds the miles of nerves running through your body can become frayed over time. Especially if you are a person considered tightly wired. We all know at least one. It seems their energy lingers long after they’ve gone and you feel like you’ve run a marathon after 10 minutes of conversation with them. That person.

Think of a cat. Everyone has seen a startled cat jump straight up into the air. That’s what I mean by tightly wired. Oat grass is also known as cat grass. Cats love it and you can grow it in a pot just for kitty. You will find oat grass under both names in garden centers but don’t be fooled, you can either buy a seed packet of cat grass or you can buy a pound of oat seed for about the same price. Oat grass is considered a cover crop and I’ve bought a pound of it for around $5.00 at Rick’s Nursery in Colorado Springs. Just a warning, a pound goes a long way so a half ounce may be more suitable for most people.

This is a hard world for many people and it’s becoming increasingly so. Nervous system disorders are common; and depression and anxiety seem to be on the rise in epic proportions these days. I’m old enough to know things weren’t always this way and times were much simpler when I was a kid in the ‘60’s. We were barefoot Nature kids outdoors most of the time in the summer and we didn’t let the dark of night or the winter keep us in. Walk back with me for a minute.

There was no wi-fi coming at us from every direction. There were no smart phones and we got our news either by newspaper or twice daily on the television. It wasn’t delivered in rapid succession the way it is today. There were 3 channels then and drug companies were either not allowed or didn’t figure out how to bombard the airwaves pushing pharmaceuticals. Anti-depressants weren’t in nearly every household. In fact, I had not even heard of them back then.

We played in the dirt. So much that we would actually submerge ourselves in manholes or crawl around under grandma’s crawl space.  Outdoors in the sunshine was the place to be. Suffice to say we got our share of Vitamin D and dirt therapy. Two very important things for lifting the spirits. The documentary Letters from Generation RX shows us that minerals play an extremely important role in maintaining good mental health. Dirt provides minerals which is why some children literally eat it. Their bodies are craving minerals. With modern agricultural methods, our soil is being strip mined of minerals and food doesn’t have the same levels as it did just 50 years ago.

Fact: Minerals found in this plant include silica, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron and potassium. Not to mention vitamins B1, B2 and D to name a few.

*The Energetics of Western Herbs Vol 1-Peter Holmes


Per PubMed, exposure to electro-smog from wireless technology is accelerating and has shown adverse reactions in some people such as heart palpitations, pain or pressure in the chest accompanied by anxiety, and an increase in the fight or flight response that causes us to release the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. This condition is referred to as electro-hypersensitivity. Could this be affecting our children and manifesting as hyperactivity?

Those who experience EHS over a prolonged amount of time may develop psychological problems as a consequence of their inability to work in highly technical environments. Their ability to travel could become extremely limited due to electromagnetic frequency overload, and the social stigma that their symptoms are imagined rather than real. Even people that experience these symptoms may not realize where their issues are stemming from. At this point a doctor would probably prescribe an anti-anxiety medication or an anti-depressant or both.

It’s September, where is my sunshine?

Sunshine is so important for people who struggle with depression and most of the people I talk to who are depressed say oh I don’t like the sun. Even 15 minutes of sunshine per day is better than no sun at all.  Although herbs can help with depression and anxiety, nothing can take the place of Nature. Which is why I always did my herbal consultations in the park when treating people with depression and anxiety. Before you knew it, we had our shoes off wading in the creek, swinging on the swings and laughing like little kids. Sometimes you just have to have a little fun to remember how good it feels.

Many seem to want to stay indoors more than they used to for fear of what the wild has to offer. Some parents think they are protecting their children by keeping them from Nature when in fact it is impeding their ability to build their immune and connect with the living beings around them. Every human being needs one on one connection with other living beings whether those beings are people, animals or plants. Walk barefoot on the Earth every once in a while. You’d be surprised how grounding it is and truly does have an effect on your health and well-being.

Speaking of connection, being a people watcher I’ve noticed a hard disconnect going on around me. People from each other, as well as from Nature. Children younger and younger looking down at their phones for extended periods of time. Not to mention their parents. Young and old seem to get caught up in the world of wi-fi. While I appreciate being able to connect with those far away, I see a complete disconnect from the person sitting next to you when you are texting or cruising the net. People in public places walk by each other never looking up to acknowledge each other anymore. While we seem to be more engaged with our devices we are less engaged from each other. It is as though we are removing ourselves from potentially compassionate interactions and genuine validations from our human counterparts.

Gentle and Soothing

Oats are not only known for their nerve healing properties, it’s one of the gentlest herbs I’ve used. People soak in an oatmeal bath to soothe skin conditions such as chicken pox or rash. Oatmeal is considered comfort food for me and is my go to anytime meal on a snowy day. Herbal facial scrubs are made with oats as a gentle exfoliant. I also use the grass or straw in my Better Bone tea blend to nourish and restore the musculoskeletal system. Good for all systems of the body but specific to the nerves, brain and reproductive organs.

A plea for kindness

Gentle and soothing seems to be what we need right now as stated above this is a hard world for many people; having lost two young friends to suicide recently and hearing of many more, I feel it is clearly a time to call for “unity in the community”. So, this is my challenge I would like to throw out to anyone who may be reading this article. In honor of my young friends who could not find their place in this world; If you see someone who may be struggling, show some humanity and extend your hand in kindness. Something as simple as a smile can turn a crappy day into a better one and we are all capable of that. Offer to carry that heavy load for an elderly or disabled person if you can. That person who calls out for help with the sign on the street corner? Share a few dollars with them. One of my favorite things to do is to share my lunch with someone who may not have eaten in a while. Before you know it, you’ll see just how beneficial and nourishing it is to your soul to help another person in need. Show people there is still kindness and compassion in the world. It’s quite possible that your act of kindness could be payed forward a thousand times over. Be an inspiration for our young people. Be the light.

“We must pay more attention to our inner value. We must practice compassion which is our basic human nature. My sole purpose right now is to promote human values and compassion. Our educational system is very much oriented in the materialistic value. This is not good. Our educational system should teach about inner value; compassion.” ~Dalai Lama

How to make oat seed tincture

When the seeds are milky gather the oat grass and seed. They typically ripen all at once and the timeframe to gather them while milky is about a week so be ready!

Strip the seeds off the stem.

Put oat seeds in a mason jar and cover with 100 proof vodka. Shake every day or so for a month. Pour through a strainer into another container and it really is just as simple as that. The liquid should be tinted green and you should keep it in containers away from light and heat.

The remaining grass can be dried and chopped for making tea.

For a homemade oat milk recipe refer to the November 2016 issue of Ute Country News.

Tip: If you would like to incorporate more oats into your diet, oat flour, oat milk and organic rolled oats can be purchased at Mountain Naturals Community Market in Woodland Park.

Mari Marques-Worden is a Certified Herbalist and owner of The Thymekeeper. For questions or more information contact: Mari at or 719-439-7303 or 719-748-3388. Mari is available for private consultation.

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