This is another one of the herbs that I like it grows almost everywhere and was one of the first herbs I started using.
Habitat and Description
Plantain is a lot like dandelions, it is considered a weed, and it grows almost everywhere, in yards, fields, meadows, and roadsides.
It is native to Europe and parts of Asia but is said to have been introduced to North America when the settlers came from Europe.
Plantain is a low growing perennial plant the leaves are broad and oval shaped. The seeds and tiny flowers extend just about the full length of the spikes. Ribwort plantain leaves are narrower and the seeds and tiny flowers are at the end of the long stocks. The stocks holding the tiny flowers grow up from the roots. A sure way of identifying plantain is to take a close look at the leaves. The leaves have very strong and deep veins which extend in a vertical direction. If the veins of the leaves are in a horizontal direction it is not a plantain.
It also goes by the names English plantain, Englishman’s foot, white man’s footsteps, ripplegrass, snakeweed, Broad-leaved Plantain, Ribwort, narrow leaved plantain.
As with dandelions you need to be careful where you harvest it make sure it hasn’t been sprayed with anything and don’t collect from the roadside. Plantain can be harvested from spring to fall.
Plantain is rich in magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. The seeds contain vitamin B1. Young leaves can be eaten raw in salads and sandwiches. Very similar to spinach.
For external application, it can be made into a salve, lotion, oil or compress. Plantain’s anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties make it one of the most effective herbal remedies for topical treatment of skin conditions such as rashes, wounds, ulcerations, cuts, swelling, sprains, bruises, burns, eczema, cracked lips, poison ivy, mosquito bites, diaper rash, boils, hemorrhoids, and blisters. You can make a poultice to draw out splinters or thorns. It can also help reduce some of the scarring with more severe cuts and scrapes. It also draws out the poison of bee stings, snake bites, and spider bites, if stung immediately rub some crushed or slightly chewed leaf on the area and around the sting to prevent swelling and itching. According to many herbal practitioners plantain may be used as a substitute for comfrey to effectively treat bruises and broken bones.
Internally you can use in tea, tinctures, or syrup. Plantain has demulcent properties, making it soothing to mucus membranes. It is used to treat conditions of the respiratory tract including sore throat, cough, bronchitis, asthma and emphysema. It also has expectorant properties which help to expel mucus from the lungs when the respiratory tract is congested due to colds or hay fever. A number of studies have found that diabetics who drink plantain tea often have an easier time managing their blood sugar levels, and it can also reduce the body’s desire for sugar. Bladder problems can also be treated with this tea.
There is also some evidence to suggest that it can lower blood pressure. Stomach problems are often helped with plantain tea as well. Both diarrhea and dysentery have been relieved through the use of this tea
The demulcent properties of plantain are also beneficial in treating urinary tract infections including cystitis with blood in the urine, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and diarrhea. The seeds of plantain contain mucilage and can be used as a laxative to relieve constipation. They can also be dried and infused in water for a soothing eye lotion.
How to use
Tea / Infusion
You can use a combination of the leaves, roots, and seeds to make plantain tea or each by themselves. To make a plantain tea( infusion) simply add a small handful of fresh or dried plantain leaves to a cup or two of water, and bring to a gentle boil. Turn off heat, and let steep, then strain out the leaves. The infusion is best when fresh, it can however be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. This tea can be taken with a little honey for lung congestion illnesses like bronchitis and asthma.
Make a tea with just the seeds to treat constipation by adding a teaspoon of dried seeds to a cup of boing water let cool and drink (with the seed) at night.
Salves and Oils
Oils are great for coving large areas such as several bug bites, chapped skin, cradle cap, and sunburns. You can use the oil to make a salve for bug bites, cuts rashes, diaper rash, bee/wasp stings, spider bites, eczema, psoriasis, and poison ivy.
You can use a motor and pestle to crush the leaves until the juice comes out then apply directly to the skin and cover with a band aid or piece of cloth and leave on for at least 30 minutes. If outside and have an immediate need for it (bug bite, bee sting) then you can chew on it a few minutes to break it up, then apply to wound or bite. Cayenne added to the poultice can assist to draw out any foreign objects in the flesh.
Do not just use the whole leaf, it has to be broken down so the active ingredients can do their work.
The root can be chewed to ease the pain of a toothache. You can also sprout the seeds to eat. The seeds can be ground into a flour although I am thinking that would take a lot of seeds haha.
As with any herb you should consult your doctor if pregnant or breastfeeding.
So next time you see this in your yard you may want to just harvest it instead of trying to get rid of it.
So have you every used Plantain ?