Tips for using plantain (plantago) in herbal medicine and home remedies

Plantain seeds and husks have high mucilage content and are often used to treat constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. Pour a cup of boiling water over 1 tablespoon of plantain seeds and husks. Cool and drink several times a day. This not only relieves constipation, but it also cleans the digestive tract removing harmful toxins from the colon. Plantain leaves are also used in natural healing. They make great ointments for treating skin problems.

Plantain is a beautiful medicinal herb with lots of uses.
Photo by Janice Boling at Payne Mountain Farms

These colorful plantain plants will be used to make herbal ointment.

Plantain (plantago) has many uses in herbal medicine.

Plantain (Plantago major) is used in herbal medicine to treat sluggish bowels, to heal wounds, to fight skin infections, to reduce phlegm, to soothe urinary tract infections, to ease dry coughs, to stop bug bites from itching, and much more.

Plantain leaves can be used in herbal teas.

Use plantain leaves in a relaxing tea for treating coughs due to colds and flu. Plantain tea not only soothes sore throat and coughing, but also acts as a gentle expectorant to help clear phlegm from the lungs and nasal passages. Calm a bronchitis cough with plantain tea while also soothing the lungs. Plantain is a natural cough suppressant and fights bacteria. Steep fresh plantain in hot water until cool then drink as needed. Plantain is also useful in the treatment of asthma, allergies, and hay fever.

Plantain is an excellent ingredient to add to herbal lotions and creams.

Plantain is a good addition to lotions, ointments, and poultices. Use for skin inflammation, sores, bee stings, burns, hemorrhoids, and slow-healing wounds. Plantain tea may also be used in gargles and mouth washes. Use regularly to treat gum inflammation, mouth sores, and fever blisters. For added strength add a pinch of myrrh powder or a couple drops of tea tree essential oil.

Old timers used lots of plantain.

Plantain leaves were once used to prevent diaper rash. Fresh leaves were crushed and put in baby’s diaper. Old timers also used plantain as a food source since it is rich in mucilage, oils, protein, and starch. The seeds were often eaten fresh off the stalk.

Native Americans and plantain

Native Americans make good use of the plantain or “life medicine.” Medical research confirms that the plant is good for many of life’s ailments including emphysema, bladder problems, bronchitis, fever, hypertension, rheumatism, dysentery, gastritis, peptic ulcers, and diabetes.

Plantain stops bleeding.

Plantain can stop blood flow and encourages repair of damaged tissue when applied to external wounds. It has natural antibacterial properties that kill germs. Leaves may be used as a poultice on wounds, skin ulcers, spider bites, and snake bites. Plantain poultices may also be applied to draw out splinters and thorns. Use of plantain can help reduce scarring when used over a period of time.

Plantain ointment recipe:

Plantain ointment is easy to make. Mix one cup of plantain leaves with a quarter cup of olive oil and heat in a small, enameled pan over low heat until leaves are mushy. Strain and stir in a tablespoon of grated beeswax. When beeswax has melted, store in a tightly covered container. Use within a couple of days or store in refrigerator for longer shelf life.

Plantain is attractive growing along a fence or in a bed.

Plantain grows wild throughout Georgia and the Appalachians. When spotted in manicured lawns, it is considered a broadleaf weed. Instead of spraying with toxic chemicals, let a bed develop into mature plants. Plantain’s large green leaves are attractive next to a weathered shed or along a fence line.

Plantain is a useful medicinal herb.

For centuries, plantain leaf poultices have helped wounds, sores, sunburn, and stings (just crush the leaves and apply to skin). Plantain soothes pain, speeds healing, and fights infection. Plantain is also used as a spring tonic to build the immunity.

Use young plantain leaves to treat diarrhea.

Young plantain leaves are astringent and make an excellent remedy for diarrhea. Pour a cup of boiling water over a quarter ounce of dried leaves, steep for ten minutes, and drink slowly. Plantain leaf tea us also used to increase uric acid excretion from the kidneys (which helps control gout).

Use plantain seeds for their mucilage content.

Plantain seeds are useful for treating sore throats, ulcers, and other irritated tissues (due to their mucilage content). Plantain mucilage coats, heals, and protects. Just boil seeds in a little water, cool, and drink.

Plantain seeds are good for the whole digestive system.

Be sure to chew well. Plantain seeds can also be made into tea. A cup of plantain seed tea is excellent home remedy for constipation.

Use young plantain leaves in salads.

Young, fresh plantain leaves can be used in salads. The older leaves are tough but make healthy additions to soups and stews. Plantain leaves are nutritious with lots of flavonoids, calcium, and vitamin A. Try stir frying young leaves in toasted sesame oil. Add salt and pepper to taste and maybe a sprinkle of cayenne pepper flakes or fresh lemon juice. Another way to get plantain into the diet is to lightly toss with olive oil, add salt, pepper, or other favorite dry seasonings, and bake until crispy. Much healthier than potato chips!

Add plantain seeds to homemade bread.

Plantain produces long, narrow spikes which rise well above the leaves. Each spike can produce up to 10,000 seeds (small, oval-shaped, and bland tasting). The seeds can be ground and mixed with other grains when making bread.

More about the plantain plant

Eastern box turtles love plantain – it is one of their favorite foods. Plantain is known as White Man’s Footprint. Legends say that the plant was brought to America by Europeans and followed the white men wherever they went. It thrives around old homesteads. Plantain’s roots help loosen hard dirt clods (especially Georgia red clay) while holding together soil particles to prevent erosion. Plantain can withstand heavy foot traffic and has no problem growing in compacted soils.

There are over 200 species in the plantain family.

Plantago major and Plantago lanceolata are the most common. Both have the same medicinal properties. Plantago major has wider rounded leaves, with multiple flowering stalks while Plantago lanceolata has longer, slender leaves with a cone of flowers on the top. (The banana-like fruit known as plantain is not related to Plantago.)

Plantain grows wild in the North Georgia area.

Plantain grows in most soils and prefers full sun. The leaves form a rosette of large, dark green leaves that grow up to 10 inches long. The flower stalks are tall and slender with tiny brown seeds maturing in late summer and early fall. Harvest young leaves to use as a spring tonic. Gather seeds and leaves in late summer to dry for winter use.

* Always consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedy especially when pregnant, nursing, or taking other medicine.

Purchase whole dried plantain plants and plantain seeds at Payne Mountain Farms.

Payne Mountain Farms

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Herb Articles by Janice Boling

"The only way to really learn about herbal medicine is to touch and smell herbs, taste them, use them daily, and grow them if possible. Herbal medicine is a way of life. It is not a quick fix." ... , herbalist, web designer, writer, photographer

"Ointment and Perfume Rejoice the Heart." Proverbs 27:9

Every Green Herb is a place to learn about medicinal herbs and essential oils. Visit my online store to buy wild harvested yellowroot, mullein, bee balm, and other herbal products at Payne Mountain Farms.

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