You many of you may have this “annoying weed” growing in your yard, or you may have seen it in a local park. Let me tell you this “weed” also knows as plantain is one amazing herb. It ranks up there with my all time favorite herbs like echinaeca and elderberries. Keep reading to find out why plantain is one of my must have herbs for my medicine chest for all times of the year.
Common Names: longleaf plantain, ribwort (P. lanceolata); broadleaf plantain, greater plantain, waybread, white man’s foot, englsih”s man”s foot (P. major)
Latin Names: Plantago major, P. ovata, P. phllium, P. lanceolata
Tell Me More
Plantain is an amazing “First Aid” herb. It has been revered since ancient times for it”s powerful astringent, anti-venomous, anti-microbial and expectorant uses.
Plantain leaf was used by the ancients to heal the bites of “mad dogs, snakes, and venomous creatures.” Interestingly, Native Americans quickly learned to use Plantain leaf in the same way, and the colonial assembly of South Carolina granted a handsome reward and freedom to an African slave who taught them how to use Plantain Herb to remedy the bite of rattlesnakes. (Practical Herbalism, page 241)
Interesting Fact: Native American”s noticed plantain growing wherever “white man” set foot , hence two of it”s names.
What Is It Used For?
The easier question is almost, how is it not used?
Indicated Usages – Internal:
- Irritable Bowels
- Kidney/Bladder Inflammation
- Liver Problems
- Mouth Ulcers, Canker Sores
- Uterine Tonic
Indicated Usages – External:
- Bites, Stings
- Eczema, Psoriasis
- Rashes, Contact Dermatitis
- Ulcers, Cold Sores
- Cuts, Bleeding Wounds
- Varicose Veins
How Is It Used?
Plantain can be used in many ways depending on what you are intending to treat. Here are some common uses:
Bug and Spider Bites/Stings, Skin Conditions and Rashes:
Salves, like my “Healing Garden Salve”, made from plantain and other healing herbs mixed with olive oil or coconut oil and bee”s wax bring almost immediate relief. In case of an emergency you can crush or chew on a fresh leaf and place it directly on the skin. I”ve done this before and noticed plantain”s fast working action. It eases the itch, draws out poisons and reduces swelling.
Plantain can even be used to treat poison ivy. Generally you will find plantain and jewelweed (another awesome herb) growing near poison ivy. Both can be applied to the skin to bring relief. I think it’s so cool how God plans things like that!
Minor Bleeding: Applying crushed or chewed plantain can quickly stop bleeding from a minor wound.
For acne: A simple tincture made from plantain leaves and apple cider vinegar will clear up most acne and blackheads.
Indigestion and Diarrhea: A strong cup of tea made from plantain leaves will clear up indigestion and diarrhea in no time.
The whole plant can be used but the leaves are most widely used.
Where Can I Find It?
You can find plantain practically everywhere! It grows on every content except for Antarctica. You can find it on yards, parks, meadows, road sides, you get the picture. Take caution where and how you harvest it. Stay clear from areas high in pollutants where the may have been sprayed or exposed to chemicals. Billions of dollars are spent each year to radiate this wonderful herb!
Be a good steward when foraging for plantain, don”t take more than you can use it a short period of time. Be sure to leave plenty to propagate.
If you can”t find a “safe” place to forage grow your own! That”s what I have done. Warning, once you plant it, it is hard to get rid of. In my opinion that”s okay since there are so many uses for plantain.
I don”t have any plantain growing near me and I can”t/won”t grow my own, now what?
You can buy dried plantain from stores on line such as Bulk Herb Store and Mountain Rose Herbs. I am a frequent customer of both stores.