Oat-Stones (Avenoliths)

By Atom Bergstrom

Atom’s Blog

Less than three bowel movements a day is job security for your gastroenterologist …

or, if you’re holistically inclined, your colon hydro-therapist.


What follows was written before the oat-bran mania of the 1980s.

According to Samuel Goodwin Gant, M.D. (1902) …

“Concretions of this variety are rarely seen in this country, but not infrequently met with in Scotland. They are found principally in persons who consume large amounts of oatmeal; they occur less frequently at the present time than formerly, because the Scotch are now eating more meat and less meal. Avenoliths vary from cherry to orange size, and are of firm consistence. They are oval or flat in shape, dependent upon location and pressure, and yellow in color unless mixed with salts [calcium phosphate, magnesium phosphate, ammonium phosphate], when they have a whitish appearance. ‘They are formed of concentric rings of vegetable fiber, intermingled with lime, water, feces, and silica [silicon dioxide] from the oat’ (Maclagan). During the Irish famine of 1846 many concretions of a similar nature were encountered, caused by eating the skins of potatoes. In some cases it was found that a cherry-stone or plum-stone acted as a nucleus for their formation. Any vegetable food having long and coarse fibers, if eaten in large quantities, may result in the formation of an intestinal concretion of this type.”


Any vegetable food having long and coarse fibers?



Ellen Goodman (“We Used to Brake for Oat Bran,” The Washington Post, Jan. 27, 1990) wrote …

“In pursuit of low cholesterol and long life, what fun they had mixing up muffins, downing batches of cereal, sprinkling their frozen yogurt and each other with oat-bran abandon. How happy they were driving together down the road of life in a car with a bumper sticker boasting, We Brake For Oat Bran.”


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