Plantain: First Aid Hero

Plantago major

Plantain is an herb that has made itself so widely available to us, it practically calls out to be of use. City sidewalks, roadsides, fields, practically any place with lots of sunshine, Plantain will be there, and its uses are precious and practical.

One of Plantain’s finest uses is as a first aid herb. One of its names is “Soldier’s Wort” because of its heroism on the battlefield in the first aid capacity. The leaf is chewed or chopped up and applied wounds to stop bleeding, ease pain, protect the wound and promote tissue healing. If you ever find yourself in need of a band-aid, scan your feet for Plantain, and more likely than not it will be right there, ready to help.

Plantain is known as a vulnerary herb, which means that it encourages the healing of damaged tissue. It is very often a chief ingredient in healing salve recipes. Bend down and touch the young green leaves of a Plantain plant and you will feel how soft, cool and inviting they are- a sure sign of the healing mucilage within. Plantain is incredibly healing for the skin with its nourishing combination of moisturizing, tissue-healing, astringent, and emollient properties. And of course, you don’t have to be wounded to use it! But should you find yourself with a burn, a bug bite, eczema, or dry skin in need of some TLC, Plantain will help.

Plantain’s internal uses are just as wonderful. Just as it soothes and heals external tissue, it does the same with inflamed and sore mucous membranes. It is also a gentle expectorant, which makes it a perfect herb for getting over coughs and colds. Plantain’s astringency helps tighten up and strengthen weakened GI tissue, and this property combined with its soothing mucilage makes it an excellent treatment for diarrhea and hemorrhoids.

This herb is also safe for dogs. Case history: A friend of mine used a glycerin extract of Plantain to treat her dog’s diarrhea. Why was it so effective? The herb’s mucilaginous content soothed and healed the inflammation in the digestive tract, and its astringent action tightened up the tissues of the intestine and stopped the flow of the diarrhea. The herb can also be used externally for wounded paws.

There are two varieties of Plantain that you’re likely to see, Plantago major and Plantago lanceolata. Plantago lanceolata has narrower leaves than Plantago major, but they are similar in their medicinal capacities.

 

Healing Plantain Salve Recipe

Ingredients:
A handful of Plantain leaves (washed and dried)
4 oz Coconut oil
½ oz Beeswax
10-30 drops of Lavender essential oil (optional, or any essential oil you like the smell of)
8 oz heatproof jar
Saucepan
Storage tins or jars

Directions:

  1. Tear or chop the plantain leaves and fill the jar halfway full, packing the leaves tightly.
  2. Add the oil on top of the leaves. Place the jar in the saucepan and fill the pan halfway full of water. Bring the water to a low simmer and let the oil infuse for 2 hours, and up to 5 hours if you’ve got time.
  3. Strain out the plantain leaves from the oil.
  4. Add the beeswax to the oil and put the jar back into the saucepan until the beeswax melts.
  5. Remove the jar from the heat, let it cool slightly and add your essential oils, stirring well.
  6. Pour your salve into your storage containers and let it cool and harden.
  7. Enjoy! Use on bites, burns, cuts, abrasions, dry skin, irritated skin, etc.

 

Plantago lanceolata

Plantago lanceolata

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4 Responses to “Plantain: First Aid Hero”

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  1. Diane Smile says:

    Wow Nicole! What a beautifully written article! It’s so engaging and encouraging! You’re so explicit about the history and applications of the plant, where to access it and how to prepare the salve. The photos should make it very easy to recognize. When you use it for gastrointestinal issues do you chop it up and make tea, or can it be used in a soup, salad or other dish?

    • Nicole says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the article! For gastrointestinal issues, Plantain would be better (and more palatable) as a tea than as a salad herb. You can also get or make a glycerine extract or tincture for ease of use.

  2. Melinda says:

    Surprise Surprise! I appreciate the information as it is very timely for me. I just went to my backyard and found PLENTY of this herb between the bricks of my walk way. So instead of cursing it as a weed, I appreciate its healing powers. Thanks!

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