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Nature’s Eraser- Plantain

Katie March 15, 2013

 

Photo Credit:Cameliatwu

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.

Plantain

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:

  • Acne
  • Cholesterol
  • Constipation
  • Diabetes
  • Diarrhea
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Indigestion
  • 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
  • Yeast
  • Toothache
  • 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.

Parts Used

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.

Here is a fun video from Shoshanna and her son Jeremiah of Bulk Herb Store. They teach you how to use plantain to treat poison ivy and bug bite. 

Do you use plantain? If so tell us how!

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Katie
Katie is a dorm “mama” to 16 amazing girls ages 5 to 18 at a home and school for the Deaf in Baja California, Mexico. She is happiest in the kitchen creating nourishing meals and home remedies or outside with at least one of her girls at her side. She grew up using herbal supplements but didn’t discover the joy of making her own until 2008. Katie is passionate about real food, herbs and simple living. You can find her blogging about all these things and more on her blog, Mexican Wildflower where she is living simply by God’s grace.MexicanWildflower
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5 Comments

  1. Katie, Oh My Goodness, I love plantain! I didn’t know it had so many uses though!
    I had read about chewing it up and putting it on bug bites and had filed that info away in my brain Then when a friend’s son came over and had bug bites all over that were just making him miserable, I went out to the backyard and picked some that I had just noticed that day, chewed it up and put it on his owies. Within minutes the itch and pain went away and he was on his way to playing!
    After that I picked some and set it in some almond oil to eventually make a salve. I never did, so it’s still sitting in my cupboard, but when my daughter came to me with an itchy bug bite just the other day, I just put a dab of the oil on and it was feeling better immediately.
    I had no idea it could be taken internally or had so many other uses! I’m looking forward to adding it to my herbal arsenal!

    Reply

    • Learning from experience is the best! The same happened to me when I was at a park with a friend and her kids. 🙂

      Reply

  2. […] easier question is almost, how is it not used? Join me at Modern Alternative Health to learn […]

    Reply

  3. Great post. Wonderful herb. I add it to others infused in olive oil, add beeswax and it’s great for most anything. Can be safely used on pets also as it’s safe. I dry some every year to have on hand. I took some correspondence courses for master Herbalist till the school closed and have read every herbal remedy book I cna get my hnads on. Been making the salve for 12 yrs. now. It replaces neosporin.

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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