Avena Sativa is in many testosterone boosting products. The claim is that it helps free, bound testosterone making it more active. Unfortunately this claim seems to be completely fabricated by the producers of such products, since there is absolutely no literature support for Avena Sativa being active in boosting testosterone, reducing estrogen, blocking SHBG or increasing fertility. Avena Sativa seems to have very little use and certainly is useless in testosterone boosting supplements.
Avena Sativa may have some use as an adaptogen and stress reducing agent. There is scarce literature on Avena Sativa being active as an herbal ingredient and even less on the water based extract that you find in most supplements. The only paper we could find showing any activity of Avena Sativa is a paper that shows it has anti-stress effects in rats and may reduce the effect of certain stimulants like nicotine (1,2,3).
Adaptogens are not well understood and don’t provide much for the bodybuilder or sports enthusiast in general. I would avoid any product that contains Avena Sativa, since it is important to spend your money on companies that at least have the savvy to do a basic literature search to see if the ingredient has any data behind it. The days of “traditional use” being substantial are well behind us as a community and it’s time to put some of these ingredients to bed.
1. Phytother Res. 2009 Oct;23(10):1371-7. An extract from wild green oat improves rat behaviour. Schellekens C, Perrinjaquet-Moccetti T, Wullschleger C, Heyne A.
An extract of wild green oat (Avena sativa L.), was tested in vivo in rats for its behavioural effects after chronic oral administration via extract-admixed food. Thirty six male Sprague-Dawley rats received (A) standard diet (controls), (B) 10 g/kg extract-admixed food or (C) 100 g/kg extract-admixed food. The following behavioural tests were performed: elevated plus maze, forced swimming, conditioned avoidance response and tetradic encounter. Body weight, food and fluid consumption were measured and apparent physical appearance was determined twice a week. Apart from a slightly decreased food and fluid intake in the high dose group there were no side effects observed during the treatment. The low dose led to an improvement of active stress response, an enhancement of shock avoidance learning and an increased synchrony in social behaviour. It may be concluded that the wild green oat extract is suitable to improve behavioural initiative in different situations.
2. J Pharm Pharmacol. 1975 Feb;27(2):92-8. The pharmacology of Avena sativa. Connor J, Connor T, Marshall PB, Reid A, Turnbull MJ.
The pharmacology of Avena sativa has been investigated in laboratory animals following a report that tincture of Avena sativa reduced the craying for cigarettes in man. The tincture, evaporated to dryness, craving for cigarettes in man. The tincture, evaporated to dryness, re-constituted in an equal volume of water and administered by stomach tube or intraperitoneal injection, antagonized the antinociceptive effect of morphine in two separate test (hot-plate and tail flick). Compared with animals made depedent on morphine alone, mice pretreated with repeated injections of morphine plus extract passed a smaller number of stools and tended to jump less after administration of nalorphine. The pressor response to intravenously administered nicotine in urethane-anaesthetized rats was also antagonized by prior administration of Avena sativa. However, the aqueous extract prepared from the tincture did not affect the seizure threshold to bemegride or nicotine or the sleeping time induced by barbitone sodium.
3. Int J Clin Pharmacol Biopharm. 1976 Oct;14(3):214-6. Pharmacotherapy with avena sativa – a double blind study. Schmidt K, Geckeler K.
Hundred non-hospitalized smokers with an average consumption of 20 cigarettes per day were treated with an alcoholic extract of Avena sativa for disaccustoming. The study was double blind. By using query-sheets personal contact was excluded. The first result was a placebo-effect of 35% for disaccustoming of smokers and no statistically significant effect of the extract of Avena sativa. The second result was a difference of disaccustoming between light and heavy smokers. It was shown, that the rate of disaccustoming was higher for light smokers than for smokers with a high consumption of cigarettes.