Plantain (Plantago lanceolata & Plantago major)

Identification: This is a perennial plant, which dies to the ground each winter and sprouts anew from its fibrous taproot around mid-spring. The oval, ribbed, short-stemmed leaves form basal rosettes which tend to hug the ground. The leaves may grow up to about 6″ long and 4″ wide.Several grooved flower stalks may grow from 6 to 30 inches high, tipped by a short spide of tiny white flowers whose brownish sepals and bracts give the spike its predominantly dark color.
Family: Plantaginaceae (Plantain family)
Flowers: April – November
Other Names: Lance-leaf plantain, buckthorn, chimney sweeps, English plantain, headsman, ribgrass, ribwort, ripplegrass
Habitat: Native of Europe; common throughout parts of North America; meadows, roadsides, pastures, waste places and lawns.
Parts Used: Leaves and seeds.
Medicinal Properties:
Properties: Astringent, demulcent, emollient, cooling, vulnerary, expectorant, hemostatic, antimicrobial, antiviral, antitoxin, and diuretic.
Constituents: Allantion, apigenin, aucubin, baicalein,linoleic acid, oleanolic acid, sorbitol, and tannin.
Main Uses: A tea can be used to treat lung disorders and stomach problems.This same tea may be used as a mouthwash to treat sores in the mouth and toothaches. It may also be used externally to treat sores, cuts, scratches, blisters, insect bites and stings, hemorrhoids, burns, rashes, and other skin irritations. A poultice of the leaves may be applied to the affected area. This is probably plantain’s most common use. For relief from an insect bite, simply shred (or chew) a plantain leaf and hold it on the bite for a few minutes. Plantain is currently being marketed as a stop smoking aid. It is said that it causes an aversion to tobacco. Plantain seeds are very high in mucilage and fiber. The seeds of a closely related species (Plantago psyllium) are the primary ingredient in laxatives such as Metamucil. Common plantain seeds may be used in the same fashion. The mucilage from the seeds may also reduce high cholesterol.
Preparation and Dosages:
Infusion: Steep 1 tablespoon leaves in 1/2 cup water for 5 minutes. Take 1 cup a day.
Decoction: Boil 2 ounces dried leaves in 1/2 quart water. Helps coagulate blood.
Juice: Take 1 tablespoon in water or milk or mixed with 1 tablespoon honey, three times a day.
Ointment: For hemorrhoids, boil 2 ounces of the plant in 1 pint olive oil.

Plantago major

Identification: Common plantain is a perennial plant. Its leaves are broadly ovate, entire or toothed, and characterized by a thick, channeled footstalk. The flower stalks grow from 6 to 18 inches high and are tipped with long, slender spikes of greenish-white flowers whose color is again over-shadowed by brownish sepals and bracts.
Common Names: Common plantain, broad-leaved plantain, dooryard plantain, greater plantain, round-leaved plantain, way bread, white man’s foot.
Flowers: May – October
Habitat: Native of Europe; common throughout parts of North America; meadows, roadsides, pastures, waste
places and lawns.
Parts Used: Leaves and seeds.
Medicinal Properties:
Properties: Astringent, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, hemostatic.
Main Uses: Common plantain can be used the same way as lance-leaf plantain (above). In addition, the juice or infusion can be taken for bladder problems and for gastrointestinal ulcers. A decoction can also be used externally for various skin problems, including ringworm, and also as a douche for leucorrhea. Chewing in the rootstock will give temporary relief from toothache.
Preparations:
Infusion: Steep 1 teaspoon fresh or dried leaves in 1/2 cup water. Take 1 to 1-1/2 cups a day, a mouthful at a time, unsweetened.
Juice: Take 2 to 3 teaspoons a day in milk or soup.
Plantain is also a wild food.

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