Learning Herbs: Plantain

{click HERE to see entire “Learning Herbs” series}

TT_LH_Plantain

Plantain Herb Profile:

Latin Name: Plantago major

Other names: longleaf plantain, ripple grass, ribwort, wagbread, white man’s foot

Description: This helpful plant (not to be confused with the banana-like fruit, plantain) is often considered a weed. There are actually around 200 species in the plantain family. While they don’t look exactly alike, plantain has green, oval leaves that range in width and have ‘ribs’ that are easily felt on the backside. Maturing plants shoot out spikes that have tiny white/brown/green flowers. Plantain can practically be found everywhere; once you know what it looks like, you will find it all the time.

Parts used: Leaves, fresh or dry. Choose brightly colored, healthy leaves. If you are going to harvest to save/dry…store in fridge/freezer to preserve the medicinal properties.

Medicinal Properties: Plantain is known as a powerful astringent herb. It is often used topically to pull out poisons and infections from something as small as a bug bite to a serious snake bite. Plantain is considered a “First Aid” plant as it is usually close-at-hand, wherever you may be. A simple “spit poultice” can be used to quickly stop bleeding (from wound), stop pain and inflammation, and relieve severe itching (even from poison ivy). Plantain also has a long history for healing skin conditions. The juice from this plant contains antibacterial properties as well as allantoin (anti-inflammatory) that aid tremendously in the quick healing process. While I haven’t used plantain internally, Rosalee de la Foret states that it may help soothe “the heat of urinary infections, ulcers, or other gastrointestinal inflammations. It can also be used for coughs where there is stuck congestion in the lungs. It loosens the phlegm, allowing it to be expectorated more easily. It can also soothe a sore throat.”

Common (therapeutic) uses: Arthritis, Bloody Urine, Bronchitis, Bug Bites, Burns, Cancer (Breast, Colon) Cold Symptoms, Cuts (minor), Dandruff, Diarrhea, Eczema, Hemorrhoids, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, High Triglycerides, Indigestion, Psoriasis, Sore Throat, Stings, Thrush, Ulcers, Wounds, Yeast Infections and more

Medicinal Forms: Here are a few ways to use/apply plantain:

External:

  • Infused Oil
  • Liniment
  • Salve, Balm, or Ointment
  • Poultice/plaster

Internal:

  • Tincture (traditional or cider vinegar)
  • Infusion (herbal “tea”)

Recipe: Easiest Plantain Poultice

(When you need relief in a hurry, you can’t get any faster than this)

  1. Find and snap off several fresh plantain leaves from a clean area.
  2. Place 1-2 leaves into your mouth and softly chew, just enough to release the juices. Chew into a ball and then spit it into your hand.
  3. Apply the green herb ball thickly to the affected area. Change the poultice every 30 minutes as needed.

Precautions: If large amounts of plantain are ingested, it may cause diarrhea. Also, if you are allergic to psyllium, you may be allergic to this herb as well.

Where to find: Plantain is probably growing in your yard, driveway or cracks in your patio. This “weed” can be found just about anywhere. So instead of spraying or weeding this wonderful herb…you may want to leave it handy. You can also purchase bulk, dried plantain at Bulk Herb Store or Glenbrook Farms. Be sure to keep your dried herb in a cool, dry place to preserve freshness.

Resources:

  • The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook by James A Duke, Ph.D.
  • The Herbal Drugstore by Linda B White M.D., Steven Foster
  • Healing Herbs by Rosalee de la Foret (get this book for free)
  • Bulk Herb Store (note: this is my affiliate link)
  • An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs by Jessica Houdret

I taught my younger sisters what plantain looks like and now every time we go for a walk they each pick a leaf “just in case they get bit by something”. Isn’t that cute!?

I love letting my plantain grow in my flower bed…it an easy place to remember and it doesn’t get mowed over.

Where have you found plantain? I’d love to hear about it!

 

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Comments

Learning Herbs: Plantain — 3 Comments

  1. I just recently learned about Plantain and have made some plantain oil- it works great! I’ve used it on bug bites, rashes, burns, diaper rash, bruises, it is amazing how quickly it soothes and heals the skin. Thanks for some more great information on this great herb!

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