Sunday, July 20, 2008

Plantain (Plantago major)

Plantain is one of my favorite herbs of all time. It grows profusely on my property and I'm never without plantain-infused oil and salve. The fresh juice (a good old fashioned spit poultice) is indispensible. We literally use it for just about every skin condition on ourselves and our pets, from cuts, scrapes and burns to insect bites. It's incredibly versatile and tremendously effective at taking the itch out of rashes, including those from poison oak/ivy, poison sumac and viriginia creeper reactions. Oh yes, and we eat it, too. ;) If you're ever going to try your hand at salve making, I highly recommend plantago!

The following information is from an article I wrote and posted on the Moon Bees/Herbaluna website I share with Mel. Also, my camera is broken (one of the abosolute worst things ever for a blogger, you know), so I borrowed the photos for this post from

Plantain's common names: Ribwort, ripplegrass, waybread, broad-leaved plantain, snakeweed, Englishman’s foot, greater plantain, and lamb’s tongue.

There are a number of species of plantain. The two major species are Plantago major, the broad-leafed plantain, and Plantago lanceolata, the lance leafed plantain. These plants look very different but are treated as medicinal equivalents.

Both species are very familiar perennial weeds and are found anywhere in the country, by the roadside, in pastures, in lawns and in city parks worldwide. The Native Americans called Plantain “White Man’s Foot”, as it came with the Europeans, and followed them westward across the land. Plantain has been naturalized throughout North America and can be found around people: in lawns, fields and disturbed soil. It is often found on trail sides, as people walk through and spread the seed.

Plantain has a very wide range of medicinal uses (see below), particularly in first aid situations as the fresh leaves quickly relieve the itch and heat from insect bites and stings, and the styptic quality will stop bleeding of minor cuts and wounds. Plantain has been reported to heal infected wounds when used as a poultice and taken internally simultaneously. It is also a very useful blood cleanser with a special affinity with the kidneys, bladder, and digestive system.

Parts Used: Leaves, root, flower spikes, and seeds.

Collection: Plantain is such a common weed it is generally collected from the wild. The fresh mature leaves may be used, but are best collected just before flowering. Remember when collecting wild herbs and weeds never collect from the side of the road! Plants absorb toxic substances such as lead and cadmium that would contaminate any medicine prepared from them. Rinse any dirt or debris from plant and pat dry. Dry as quickly as possible but not in the sun. The herb becomes ineffective if dried slowly.

Adult dosage: all 3 to 4 times daily unless stated otherwise.
Infusion: 3 to 4 T.
Powder: ¼ to ½ t.
Tincture: ½ to 2 t.


Bites, boils, bruises, cuts, mastitis, ringworm, scratches, & wounds:
Apply the freshly crushed leaves or juice, over, and keep moist. An infusion of leaves internally can be used simultaneously.

Burns and scalds:
Wash are with a strong infusion and give the infusion internally.

Use the seeds: for adults 2 to 4 t., children 1 t. Soak seeds in a glass of cold water until mixture becomes thick. Stir frequently and drink. It may be flavored with a squeeze of lemon or eaten with yogurt and fruit. This is a mild laxative and will cause no griping.

Cystitis, diarrhea, kidney trouble, leucorrhoea (excessive discharge), lumbago & water retention:
Use the infusion or tincture.

Use the tincture or extract. The affected area can be washed with the infusion.

Prepare an ointment/salve or use the fresh juice externally.

Inflamed Eyes:
Bathe the eyes with the strained infusion

Apply the powdered roots and leaves to area. The homeopathic preparation Plantago is also useful.

Use a decoction of the seeds.

Culinary uses: Plantain can be steamed, the leaves dipped in batter and fried, or the young leaves eaten raw.

Precautions: Excessive internal use should be avoided during pregnancy. Internal overuse can also have a laxative effect.

Please note: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The information I provide is for educational purposes only and not meant to prescribe, diagnose, treat or prevent any disease. It should not substitute the advice or recommendations of your physician or health professional, nor should it replace prescription medications without proper supervision. Thank you and have a nice day. :D

Bookmark and Share

No comments: