(adapted from Make your own AphrodisiacsAphrodisia, p62)

Scottish poet Robert Fergusson wrote these lines in 1771: On sicken food has mony a doughty deed / by Caledonia’s ancestors been done.

It is indeed a blessing that oats (Avena sativa) is such a ready source of nutrition in illness and convalescence (‘sicken food’), especially for ‘nervous’ and deficiency conditions. Also, having insignificant gluten content, oats makes excellent recuperation fare for those with wheat intolerance.

Oats products are easily made and digested, with more fat than any other cereal, significant protein, vitamins, minerals, saponins and digestible fibre. If porridge is too solid for the patient’s easy eating, then an oat gruel is an old sickroom standby in the form of a pottage or broth.

Modern research has established that eating oats regularly helps reduce blood cholesterol levels by lowering ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and raising ‘good’ HDL cholesterol. This action makes oats a dietary ally in combating coronary heart disease and a preventative measure against colon cancer.

The gardener’s rule applies to youth and age:
When young, sow wild oats; when old, grow sage.
– H.J. Byron, ‘The Pilgrim of Love’ (play, 1860)

If you’re worried about blood cholesterol, there hardly seems a better food pharmaceutical than oats.
– Jean Carper, The Food Pharmacy (1989)

Athol brose

We have adapted a traditional Scottish sweet recipe from one made with whisky to one using a herbal tincture, in this case ginseng.

Toast 1 cup rolled oats in a cast iron or non-stick pan, using a medium heat until they gently brown (do not allow to burn).

Meanwhile mix 2 tablespoons runny honey, 2 tablespoons ginseng tincture and 1 teaspoonful vanilla extract in a bowl.

Whip 300ml (10oz) double cream or whipping cream until it feels light and stir into the bowl. Add the crunchy oatmeal before serving, folding gently into the cream mixture. Spoon into two tall glasses.