Keeping it Simple with the Power of Plantain
I first encountered plantain as a child. I picked the broad leaves from my grandparents’ yard to feed their rabbits. Carefully plucking from the Earth, I would try for the entire stem. I imagined its purple tip was an extra tasty treat for those bunnies. At the time, I was oblivious at the time to the plant’s medicinal properties—or that humans could even use plants for healing. I simply enjoyed making friends with those rabbits as they nibbled the greens I stuck in their pen. This is a memory that comes to me when I see the plantain popping up throughout the yard today.
It’s easy to want to grow and craft with more exotic herbs than just the ones found in your backyard. I know this, because I seem to fall into this trap often. But, I don’t want to lose sight of the real magic of herbalism—which is most visible when I keep things simple. Sometimes I need to be reintroduced to a plant in order to regain my balance. It is the easily overlooked, but wonderfully common plantain that has helped me back there this time. Bringing to light this plant’s healing power will grant you a renewed appreciation and better health—for only the price of a little time and attention.
Plantain & It’s Powers
Greater Plantain (Plantago major) and Ribwort (Plantago lancelota) are the two primary species (of 250 found worldwide) that you’ll find in the yard, at parks, filling the cracks of concrete, or just about anywhere the Earth is trampled regularly. Plantain has been highly regarded throughout history for its cleansing properties. The Anglo Saxons even listed it as one of nine sacred herbs.
Plaintain’s most noted use early on was as a blood cleanser (alterative). Since then, we know that plantain does a lot more cleaning up of the body when given the opportunity to do so. Should you find worms plaguing the digestive tract, plantain can help to wipe them away when consumed as a tea. Furthermore, as a deobstruent, plantain has a drawing out effect on particles and substances not naturally found within the body. Examples of this would be splinters, bug bites, stings, or snake venom.
Plantain is a cooling, soothing herb. Perhaps this is why it is a go-to plant for healing wounds. In fact, it’s use is said to shorten recovery time on a variety of painful, irritating levels, such as bronchitis, sore throats, heavy menstrual cycles, and more. It will effectively ease poison ivy, along with any other infection that causes excessive heat in the body.
Using Plantain for Healing
All of these helpful benefits are wonderful, but to see them in action you have to know how to use the herb. For internal conditions (or if you’d like double strength when using externally) make a strong tea from plantain leaves by chopping them up and placing them in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Fill the jar with near boiling water and replace the lid. Let that stand for at least twenty minutes and then strain out the leaves before drinking. For internal issues it is suggest that you drink small amounts of tea frequently throughout the day.
My favorite way to use plantain for skin conditions is by making a salve. You could also extract the benefits into an oil and use that topically. Traditionally, plantain was used topically as a poultice. Simply mash (or chew) the plantain and place it on your bee sting for twenty minutes. The sting will be drawn out and the wound will be nourished with plantain’s lovely healing magic.
Plantain is easy to find, full of beneficial nutrients, and simple to use. Feeling silly for having overlooked this lovely plant, to work hard to get other herbs to grow, I am thankful for the gifts naturally provided. I can’t find an excuse for letting this “wayside weed” (considered by many today) remain unnoticed any longer. I hope you, too, will bring it into your home and let this wonderfully common plant find a new appreciation within your heart.