A wonderful healing herb, right in your backyard. I like to call it the band-aid herb. Plantain (not the banana!) is a common backyard herb with broad leafs. Most people think of it as a weed, though it is an incredibly useful herb.
Many of its active constituents show antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, as well as being anti-inflammatory and antitoxic. The leaves, shredded or chewed, are a traditional treatment for insect and animal bites and the antibacterial action helps prevent infection and the anti-inflammatory helps to relieve pain, burning, and itching.
The herb is native to North America, Europe and Asia. Cultures “around the world have used the plantain leaf to help relieve health ailments for hundreds of years. The plant is one of nine sacred herbs mentioned in the ancient Lacnunga (‘Remedies’), a collection of Anglo-Saxon medical texts. During the 1500s and 1600s, it was used by Europeans for everything from dog bites and boils to fevers and the flu” (source).
Native Americans used plantain leaves to relieve the pain of bee stings and insect bites, stop the itching of poison ivy and other allergic rashes, and promote healing in sores and bruises. Plantain tea can be used as a mouthwash to help heal and prevent sores in the mouth.
Other uses include:
- Varicose Veins
- To help get cholesterol to healthy Levels
- To aid those with diabetes
- For hemorrhoid relief
- To help relieve IBS
- To sooth kidney and bladder problems and to aid with bladder infection
- For indigestion and ulcers
Plantain is very high in vitamins A and C and in calcium.
How to Use
If fresh plantain grows in your yard, make sure it has not been sprayed by pesticides (always make sure!) and use in teas or in salads. I prefer to sautee it with onions and garlic to cut the bitter taste.
For stings and bites, make a poultice of fresh plantain leaf. If you have time and want to be fancy, combine the plantain leaf with bentonite clay and water to form a paste. Both ways will take the pain away immediately when placed on the bite or sting. Sometimes it’s just easiest to chew up a plantain leaf and place it on the bite especially when you don’t have the other ingredients around. Leave the poultice on for however long you’d like. I usually just leave it on and forget about it for a couple of hours but all that time is not necessary.
A cup of plantain tea from fresh or dried leaves will sooth indigestion, heartburn or IBS. It is calming for all digestive disturbances.
Resources <<Learn More>>
Practical Herbalism: Gives detailed step-by-step instructions on preparing remedies of all kinds at home. Not only does it go into detail on the history of herbs and how traditional healing has been a part of our culture for centuries, but it also helps you understand herb’s “actions” in the body and how to use them to bring about the healing you desire.
Nutritional Herbology: A one-of-a-kind resource book giving you a complete and comprehensive summary of what nutrients are in your herbal supplements and how they work. You will find detailed nutritional analysis for hundreds of herbs, including Chinese constitutional combinations. With each herb’s nutritional profile is an historical summary of the herb’s use, a list of medicinal properties as well as folk remedies.