Ask An Herbalist: Oat straw and Wheat allergies

Cait asks:


Hello April!

Hope you are well.

I've been following your posts and guidance for a couple years now and am familiar with your ideas on restrictive/heroic diets. I had been a vegetarian for 10 years (ages 13-23) and left that lifestyle after developing food allergies to gluten-containing things. I have no doubt that I did serious damage to myself by not allowing myself to eat enough or healthfully. But it even went beyond "normal" celiac symptoms to the point where even touching inadvertantly something with gluten causes me painful, raised "burns" on my skin, lips, fingers and if eaten my tongue begins to feel odd and numb. I don't tend to experience a tightness in my throat or breathing problems unless it's anxiety. (I also suffer from depression & anxiety but those showed themselves before the vegetarianism). I'm fairly sure it's not all psychosematic, as the reactions are consistent even when I am not aware of gluten's presence.

I want to begin your infusion advice but am a little unsure of what to seek other than the miraculous Nettle (raspberry leaf speaks to me, as well). I've been told before that with true deep healing I may recover somewhat from my food allergies.

So my question is this: Is it advisable to make oatstraw infusions since oats are related to/grown in the same fields as gluten grains?


Hello Cait! 

I feel like infusions would be a great way for you to overcome allergies  nettle is really specific for this I mean I've seen people with severe allergies  like anaphylactic type recover substantially after 6 months to a year of using nettle infusion daily . 


All of that aside with this level of contact allergy I think if possible and you have the insurance to do it it would be worth seeing an allergy specialist to determine if you are actually allergic to, the wheat or the gluten, or potentially something entirely different such as things that are often sprayed on comercial wheat products . 


I knew one gal who swore she was deathly allergic to gluten and it turned out she was actually allergic to the fungicide type stuff they spray inside of most bread bags(even the organic brands)to make the bread on the store shelf last longer ,they then don't have to add this as an ingredient because it's not actually baked into the bread. She is able to eat flour now as long as its 100% treated and she bakes her own bread. That might not be your case but it's just some things to consider . 

Also when I was pregnant with my daughter I suddenly became gluten intolerant and this was back in a time where gluten-free wasn't a thing on top of I live in wheat country LOL I noticed that I could eat spelt bread / flour so I started to kind of look into what might be going on.


Within 3 months of giving birth I discovered that I was really low in magnesium and ironically enough being low in this critical mineral can cause gluten intolerance but this again probably isn't your case because it's actually causing a reaction on your skin. These are just thoughts that are rattling around in my head so I figured I'd share them!

As far as what other herbs you could use to do your nourishing herbal infusions I'd for sure add Linden, Comfrey, Red clover alongside your Nettle and Red Raspberry leaf.

As far as the issue of wheat contaminated oats the way that actually works isn't how people thing, it's not that the oats are being grown in the same field as the wheat at the same time as they both have different harvesting times as well and even if they did share a filed every other season when they were doing crop rotation most Farmers burn their fields in between or they are completely stripped and any left over hay/straw will have fully composted by next growing season so there's no contamination factor there.

The real concern that comes in with wheat contaminated oats is in the grain itself and that's because farmers use the same combines/ threshers/grain trucks to harvest these grains and the way that works is it all dumps into one big truck and then they drive it to their scales to get their weight so they can sell their grains and such. I'm speaking from experience here having grown up working harvest, so the contamination comes in at the grain truck level as the wheat berry dust is still inside of the hauling truck and the 16 year old they hire to air blast the bed does a half ass job at best because it's 100+°F dusty hot and he's not getting paid well enough! So the oat berries that get harvested now have wheat dust on them.


Now making hay is completely different process with completely different equipment so they're going across there knocking down the cuttings after they've already taken off all the grain tops and they're running it through a baler that kicks out individual string wrapped bails now normally this would be turned into animal food but some of it such as the oat straw which is really really high in protein and favored by Pig farmers is set aside to sell to people like us. It's not as likely that it's contaminated because this equipment is just so different and there's no dusty grain truck involved.

That being said it really might be worth the effort if you reached out to whoever you're going to buy your bulk herbs from such as Mountain Rose Herbs or Frontier Botanicals and ask them if they're oat-straw is certified gluten-free.


Because companies these days really like to put that mark on a package for the sake of charging more if we're just being honest like one time I saw a bottle of water marked gluten free LOL and it was a dollar fifty more than the water not marked gluten free, but anyhow this means they are very willing to make sure or probably tell you that it is gluten free.

I hope you found some of this helpful and if oat straw can't be in your rotation that's okay cause we have lots of other herbs we can work with😊


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