Making a Healing Plantain Oil
Summer is nearly here and the thought of farmer’s market melons and sweet corn is making my mouth water. I watch eagerly for the first signs of vibrant red tomatoes and peppers in the garden. Yet, with all of this outdoor activity my chance of being bitten or stung by something increases.
Don’t get me wrong-most bugs fascinate me. (Those on the “not-so-fascinating” list: ticks, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, roaches, mosquitoes, and the tiny gnats that fly in your eyes.) A day in the garden being interrupted by an irritation sting or bite is not particularly appealing.
To prepare for such an event, I need a quick, effective, and all-natural remedy to have on hand. Plantain, a medicinal herb, found nearly everywhere, is easy to identify and safe to use for a variety of health problems. (Read more about it’s superpowers here.) To relieve itchy, painful bites and stings, a plantain infused oil is superb. Preserving the plant’s healing and soothing properties within a skin-friendly oil turns your next first aid need into a much less daunting experience.
Making Plantain Oil
Collect your Materials
You will need:
- oil (I use grapeseed oil because it is less greasy when applied topically; but you can also use coconut, olive, or apricot)
- 2 glass jars with lids
- plantain (either Ribwort or Greater Plantain; I like to mix them)
- cheese clothe or a fine mesh strainer
- drying rack (optional)
Gently was the dirt away.
Take a damp towel and brush each leaf, front and back. This will eliminate dirt from ending up in your oil.
Wilt-dry the leaves.
For several hours or overnight, lay the plantain leaves out to dry. Oil and water don’t mix, so letting the plant wilt-dry decreases it’s water content. The leaves don’t need to be completely dry, just limp and wilty. Of course you can use completely dried leaves if you wish. I placed mine on a drying rack on the screened-in porch overnight.
Cut the leaves, and cover with oil.
Chop or cut the leaves into small bits and cover with oil. The smaller you chop the plantain, the more you open the pieces to release their healing properties. Place the leaves inside the clean glass jar. Ideally, the jar will be filled to within an inch of the top-it just depends on how much plantain you collect. Pour the oil over your leaves filling up that inch of extra space in the jar.
The plant material will soak up some of the oil. If you notice that the plantain leaves stick up out of the oil, top off the jar with more oil at any point in this process.
Cap it, and let the sun do the work.
Put the lid on, and label your jar. Be sure to include the oil type used and the date this infusion was made. Set the jar in a sunny spot for four weeks. Keep it within sight so you remember to shake it a few times a day to keep everything mixed up.
After four weeks, sift the plantain out of the oil using cheese clothe or a strainer. Pour the oil into a glass jar and label your now ready-to-use healing oil. This will keep for some time if left in a cool, dark place. Be sure to check for rancidity from time to time. The smell will give it away! And don’t forget to compost the plantain leaves.
Plantain is such a wonderful (overlooked) resource for healing. Making my own plant medicine connects me intimately with nature, and helps grow my appreciation for the lovely plants growing all around. Now you, too, have a quick and effective remedy for the minor bites, stings, and scrapes that often accompany summertime fun. I hope you enjoy this wild crafting project and feel the sense of self-sufficiency that I do when making simple plant medicines.
(Note: This is the solar method for making plantain oil. I prefer it when making medicinal oils, however it will take four weeks for the oil to be ready, as it needs to sit in the sun for this length of time. For instructions for a quicker method check out this tutorial at Bella Vista Farms.)