Plantain-Plantago psyllium, Plantago ovata, Plantago lanceolata, Plantago Major
Also known as Waybread, Englishman's Foot, Ribwort, White Man's Foot, Snakeweed, Devil's Shoestring, Chimney Sweep, Cuckoo's Bread and Ripple Grass (amongst a host of others).
Parts used: root, leaves, flowers spikes, seeds
Meridians/Organs affected: bladder, small intestine, gallbladder, skin, liver and blood.
Properties: antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, aperient, antihistamine, expectorant, antivenomous, anti-toxin, demulcent, cooling alterative (yin), vulnerary, diuretic, astringent, emmenogogue, styptic, antisyphilic, deobstruent, anthelmintic, emollient, refrigerant, depurant.
Plantain is a member of the plantain family. It is found all over the world, commonly where people walk or where there are animal trails (which is where the term "waybread" came from as it is found 'by the wayside').
There are several different varieties of plantain. The most common are the broad-leaf and the lance-leaf types. The broad-leaf is oval to rounding in shape with a rounded edge and tip; the lance-leaf is long, tough and sharp-pointed. The spikes and seeds are where psyllium comes from (commonly used as a bulk laxative).
The best time to collect plantain is May through September, although it may be gathered before or after that (it is just at its most medicinal stage during those months) between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The young leaves can be eaten raw, sauteed or boiled for use as a side vegetable or in salads (the young leaves are similar in taste to swiss chard).
Plantain is an amazing herb both in its nutritive qualities (has been said to have a higher nutritive value than most vegetables in the garden) and its medicinal capabilities to heal things where others fall short. Dr. John Christopher said it is the best plant for blood poisoning that we have. He stated in his book, 'The School of Natural Healing' that plantain "reduces the swelling and completely heals the limb where poisoning has made amputation imminent." Quite a powerful little plant! He gave an example of a man who had blood poisoning where red streaks were running up his arm and he had a large lump in the armpit and was in a lot of pain. Dr. Christopher bruised some plantain leaves and put them over the man's entire arm. Within 24 hours the lump and the red streaks were gone entirely. Tell-tale signs of the power of plantain and its ability to draw out poison.
For your information:
The term "plantago" comes from the planta or 'sole of the foot.' The Native Americans often used plantain for maladies relating to the foot, including plantar fasciitis. They would take plantain leaves and stick them in their moccasins or shoes and walk until the leaves dried out and then replaced them with fresh leaves. Apparently this was very effective for sore feet. In fact, the Native Americans referred to plantain as "indian bandaid."
One of the authors of "Backyard Medicine" (Julie-Bruton Seal) used plantain juice mixed with slippery elm powder for radiation burns that one of her friends suffered on their legs. After several weeks of this the friend was completely healed without need for further treatment.
Plantain poultices also are said to be good for varicose veins and eczema. Abbe' Kneipp (Swiss herbalist, 1821-97) said of this plant that, "plantain closes the gaping wound with a seam of gold thread; for, just as gold will not admit rust, so the plantain will not admit rotting and gangrenous flesh."
When used with elderflowers and mint, plantain has been proven effective for allergies and hayfever. Taken as a tea, it has been useful for a number of bronchial maladies including asthma. The leaves used fresh are an effective antidote for stinging nettle, poison ivy and oak, bites (including poisonous spider and snake bites) stings, pus, cuts, wounds, etc. Due to its demulcent and styptic abilities among others, it has also been useful for such things as ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel, stomach ulcers, sore throats, digestive issues, excess mucous, inflammation, pink eye, boils, staph infections, diarrhea, leucorrhea, hepatitis, urinary infections, blood poisoning, hemorrhoids, gangrene, impetigo, breast and colon cancer, tuberculosis and much much MUCH more!
The fibers in the leaves (especially the older leaves) are very strong and can be pulled away from the leaf to reveal a string like fiber that can be used for thread, suturing or fishing line. (I would personally use the older leaves for these things).
As plantain is an anti-inflammatory (I have used it many times for bee and wasp stings for instantaneous relief) it is great for sprains, swollen joints, strained muscles and sore feet. Freshly bruised leaves can also be put inside a diaper to relieve diaper rash.
The seeds of plantain have been shown to reduce one's blood cholesterol. The roots have been used to relieve pain associated with headaches, toothaches and poor gums.
Plantain is very nutritious containing good amounts of calcium, iron, phosphorus, niacin, thiamine, protein, zinc and vitamins A, C and K (your blood clotting vitamin).
As with all my posts, I have recipes that I use for certain things but I will not publish them here. If you are interested in them please email me personally via the site.
Listed below are some links to some items you might be interested in. Be well!