Plantain is one of the most abundant and widely spread medicinal herbs in the world today. Both broadleaf plantain (Plantago major) and ribwort or narrow leaf plantain (Plantago lanceolate) are common weeds that many people can easily recognize.
Plantain has been a significant healing herb throughout history, and was used by many cultures the world over. The Saxons considered it one of their nine sacred herbs. In Gaelic plantain is known as “the healing plant” due to its amazing healing qualities.
Plantain is highly nutritious as it contains seven flavonoids, beta-carotene, mucilage, dietary fibre, fatty acids linoleic and oleic, protein, and carbohydrates. It also contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C and K, as well as calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, silica, sulphur and zinc.
It was used as food as far back as 4,000 years ago in Europe and there is some indication that this plant was even cultivated. As people left Europe to explore and settle in other parts of the world they took many seeds with them, including plantain.
The young leaves can be eaten raw in salads while they are tender but once they mature they are best boiled in stews, steamed or made into a tea. All parts of the plant, including the seeds, are edible.
The leaves, shredded, bruised/crushed or chewed, are a traditional treatment for insect and animal bites as their antibacterial and antimicrobial action helps prevent infection, while the anti-inflammatory, anti-toxic properties help to relieve pain, burning, and itching. Plantain is useful for nearly all skin complaints and even arthritis.
Plantain tea can be used as a mouthwash to help heal and prevent sores in the mouth, as an expectorant, or to ease a sore throat.
It quickly staunches blood flow (both internally and externally), and encourages the repair of damaged tissue – due to it’s allantoin content, often replacing comfrey in treating bruises and broken bones. Pick some leaves, crush them and place them on the cut, holding in place with a bandage/clingwrap or similar.
It stops itching from insects, stinging nettle, and it can help to draw out poisons from snake bites. (Although always seek medical help if you have been bitten by a poisonous snake.) Because it draws toxins from the body with its astringent nature, plantain may be crushed (or chewed) and placed as a poultice directly over the site of bee stings, bug bites, acne, splinters, or rashes. Bandage the area and allow the plantain to work its magic for 4-12 hours. Not only does it have the ability to draw out infection, but splinters as well.
An infusion or strong tea of plantain leaf (dried or fresh) sprayed on a sunburn will cool the burn and relieve the pain. An even more powerful remedy can be made by steeping plantain leaf (fresh or dried) in apple cider vinegar for a few weeks and then strain. The infused vinegar will sooth itching, burning and pain on the skin very quickly.
Plantain is also a diuretic so it is useful for bladder and kidney problems and it helps reduce water retention. It is also helpful for UTIs, Bladder infections, kidney infections or infections of any kind.
Plantain is renowned for its healing effect on the digestive system. This is especially useful for anyone who has been damaged by antibiotics, food allergies, IBS or other digestive disorders. Both leaves and seeds specifically target the digestive system for healing. The leaves may be steeped as tea, or added to soups. The seeds – a type of psyllium – can be ground or soaked for bulk mucilage.
Because plantain is a gentle expectorant and high in silica, it can be helpful for lung problems such as pleurisy, pneumonia, coughs, and colds.
Taking Plantain tea or tincture can help balance hormones, easing the unpleasant symptoms of Menopause and menstrual problems; hot flushes, mood swings and emotional highs and lows soon become a thing of the past.
It has been found that plantain is a superb eliminator of heavy metal toxins from the body. Broadleaf Plantain can help you eliminate the heavy metal toxicity caused by mercury amalgam fillings, and is much cheaper than having a dentist remove the fillings.
Plantain, one of the most widespread “weeds” in the world, is a first-choice remedy for many ailments. It is safe and effective, integrating the best of Nature’s Magic.
It is due to these absolutely wonderful qualities and more, that it is a prominent ingredient in three of my first aid creams – Stay Cool, Mum’s Magic Touch and Christie’s Miracle Cream. I have found it to be an amazing healing herb with many uses. I remember watching one of my milking goats, who got mastitis, picking all the plantain out of the paddock and just eating those. She knew instinctively what to do to heal herself.
To enjoy plantain’s healing properties year ’round, it’s easy to make your own plantain oil (click here for instructions). This oil will last you through the winter when plantain dies back. You can also dry the leaves or infuse vinegar (OACV) with the plantain leaves, for later use.