Medicinal herb – Plantain

Plantain 1 Plantain 2

Medicinal Herb Post #5 written June 5, 2018

Plantain – P. major (broad leaf), P. lanceolata (narrow leaf) and P. ovata (psyllium)

Plantain isn’t native to the US. The American Indians used to call it Englishman’s footprint because it is an invasive species from England. However, they didn’t mind too much because this plant has many health benefits! The broad leaf grows in more wooded and watered areas, whereas the narrow leaf tends to grow in desert areas, but as you can see I grow both very easily. One plant can produce up to 15,000 seeds and has been documented to remain viable after 60 years (the seeds that is). I like to cut back the seed stalks so I’m not fighting it too much the following year. The ovata species is where psyllium husks come from and is used to soothe the digestive track and get things moving along. It is the main ingredient in Metamucil.

Plantain is edible and used for many ailments. It is an anti-inflammatory, demulcent (soothing to upset tissues), diuretic, vulnerary (accelerates cell repair and healing), astringent (tightens swollen tissues) and is very good at drawing out poisons. The Herbalist I learned from had a friend who was a die hard survivalist. This particular adventure he decided to go on was a hike down through the Snake River Canyon up in ID. He was days away from any town and was rock climbing. As soon as he put his hand up on a rock he felt a very painful bite. It was a rattlesnake that bit him and it wasn’t a dry bite either. His hand swelled up immediately and he knew he could die if he didn’t do something quick. So he climbed down and walked along the river knowing that the broad leaf plantain likes water. He ate plantain and chewed it putting it on the bite, changing the dressings every 2 hours. Within just 48 hours the swelling had gone down and the pain went away. He only has 2 small scars on his hand from the fangs of the snake. Pretty impressive! It’s one of those must have first aid herbs for all kinds of poisonous bites and wounds, including animal bites (dog), bee stings and spider bites.

Other uses I have applied plantain for:

Stomach issues, especially leaky gut or IBS.
Tea or capsule, equal parts plantain, licorice, marshmallow and bentonite clay. You can add peppermint, chamomile or calendula too depending on your needs. 1-2 tsp 2x a day or more if needed.

I use plantain in my salve recipe (search calendula herb post in this group for it).

A great venomous bite poultice would be equal parts plantain, marshmallow root, dandelion root, yarrow or echinacea and calendula. Grind into a powder or poultice and apply to the bite. It’s also found in wound formulas by adding comfrey, lobelia and cayenne. Plantain is particularly good for puncture wounds because it doesn’t close up the wound too fast like comfrey.

Plantain is great for coughs, colds and bronchitis. When combined with another good expectorant like gumweed it’s ability to moisten tissues makes it easier to move mucus out of the lungs.

Plantain should be used with caution in pregnant women as it has been known to cause uterine activity. It has also been known to decrease the effectiveness of carbamazepine and lithium drugs.

Emily Saddler

Emily is first a wife to her best friend Ryan, homeschool mom of 7 awesome kids, Holistic Health Practitioner in the state of Utah and Traditional Naturopath outside of the state of Utah, master gardener, yoga/pilates instructor, certified clinical and master herbalist, licensed massage therapist, and doula. She is a very passionate advocate of all things Mother Nature! Emily maintains a blog called “The Organic Farm Girl” where she shares gardening advice, delicious recipes made with fresh, organic ingredients, herbal and natural home care product recipes and loves teaching classes on gardening, plant identification and herbal remedy workshops. Check out the events and classes page for more info.

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