Secrets of the Bach Flower Remedy Plants #35 Wild Oat

Wild Oat (Bromus ramosus)

Wild oat, the remedy to help those at a cross-roads in their life to find their true direction, is made by the sun method.

Chemical diagram of peramine

Bromus ramosus is commonly known as the hairy brome – one of around 170 brome grasses in the genus.  The brome grasses are classified in a different genus but within the same family as the common oat (Avena sativa) and both their genus names are Latin words for oats.  Other relations include the wheat-grass family (wheat, barley and rye).

Brome grasses are susceptible to infection by endophytic fungi which live within the grass but for the most part do it no harm.  The fungi do, however, produce chemical compounds to protect their hosts.  One common example is peramine, an alkaloid which acts as a deterrent to insect feeding, found in Bromus ramosus infected with Epichloё bromicola.

A well-known example of an endophytic fungus is Claviceps purpurea, which often affects rye, producing the disease ergot of rye.  Ergot produces toxic alkaloids known as the ergot alkaloids which cause two types of illness – one convulsive and the other, commonly known as St. Anthony’s fire, gangrenous.  Medicinally, ergot was traditionally used to induce childbirth and study of the ergot alkaloids led their common nucleus to be identified as lysergic acid.

Chemical diagram of lysergic acid; LSD is the diethylamide, where the H atom of the OH group is replaced by N(CH2CH3)2

In the 1930s, chemist Albert Hofmann was working on making derivatives of lysergic acid and first made the diethylamide which he called LSD-25.   After taking some by accident in the 1940s, he described the hallucinatory properties of the compound, now known just as LSD, and it went on to be used both legally and illegally for its hallucinogenic effects.  The discovery and study of LSD and its effects on the brain made a significant contribution to the understanding of the link between neurochemistry and mental illness.

LSD was tested in a CIA mind-control programme, Project MKUltra, a series of illegal experiments carried out between 1953 and 1973.  The drug was often given without consent, including to prisoners, military and government employees and the general public.   The programme aimed to develop and test drugs and procedures for use in interrogations and torture specifically by altering the victims’ mental state.   Use of LSD was eventually abandoned due to its unpredictable effects.

Wild oat;

Hairy brome; image by Leo Michels (Own work, www.imagines-plantarum.de) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Brome grasses have little economic value and are often considered to be weeds.  The common names of Bromus sterilis are poverty brome or barren brome, attesting to this.  Bromus diandrus is known as ripgut brome – this refers to the danger posed to animals from the seeds.  These are sharp with backward-facing hairs which can become lodged like a fish hook.

The invasive weed cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) is relatively fast-growing and fire retardant so interferes with the fire cycle in natural plant communities.   It is combustible so increases the number of fires but is adapted to survive these events better than most other plants.   Stemming the spread of cheatgrass is a significant issue in parts of the USA, due to the increased occurrence of wildfires.

For an introduction and sources and more info., click the links.