Plantain (Plantago)

Plantain (Plantago)

• The oval, ribbed, short-stemmed leaves tend to hug the ground. The leaves may grow up to about 6″ long and 4″ wide.
• The easiest way to identify plantain (of either type) is that it has leaves with parallel veins. Most plants have leaves with veins that fork outward from a central midrib. Plantain, on the other hand, has side veins and a midrib which all run parallel to one another down to the base of the plant. Plantain doesn’t have showy flowers, but it does have a distinctive, compact seed head that turns from green to brown as the seeds mature.

What to collect:

• Eat the leaves when they’re young. Like most plants, the leaves tend to get bitter tasting as they mature.
• leaves should be collected when they are very young, otherwise they will be too stringy
What to eat:
• The entire plant. Young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. They are somewhat bitter and tedious to prepare because it’s generally preferable (though not required) to remove the fibrous strands before use. Many people blanch the leaves in boiling water before using them in salads in order to make them more tender. Once blanched, plantain can be frozen then used later in a sauté, soup or stew. Seeds can be eaten raw or cooked and can be tedious to harvest. The seed can be ground into a meal and mixed with flour. Dried leaves make a healthy herbal tea.
• They can be eaten raw, used in a salad, or cooked like greens

• The liquid juice clarified and drunk for several days helps distillation of rheum upon the throat, glands, lungs, etc.
• Applied to a bleeding surface, the leaves are of some value in arresting haemorrhage, but they are useless in internal haemorrhage
• The fresh leaves are applied whole or bruised in the form of a poultice. Rubbed on parts of the body stung by insects, nettles, etc., or as an application to burns and scalds, the leaves will afford relief and will stay the bleeding of minor wounds.
• Plantain is an Alterative meaning that it is one of about 100 plants that clean and correct impure conditions of the blood and the eliminative tissues and organs. Dr. John R. Christopher explains that although many herbs might work fast on a given organ to relieve engorgement to really be an Alterative herb it must do the job slowly but surely, toning the organs as well as cleaning the blood. This herb does that and can be used completely. The roots, leaves, flowers and seeds can be used internally or externally.
• Plantain is #1 in the field of blood poisoning treatment. You can see the healing at work. Swelling goes down and the “red” line recedes. Limbs poisoned can be saved using this herb. It is used as a poultice on the outside and taken as a tea on the inside. Michael Tierra, L.Ac., O.M.D. states that plantain is an herb that will “dry excess moisture and remove excess fat where toxins are retained.” (Tierra, p. 13)
• Plantain is also a diuretic so is useful for kidney and bladder problems. It is taken throughout the day as a tea to help the kidneys and bladder. It is used in bed-wetting challenges. It also helps dropsy and water retention. Sometimes diuretics should be teamed with a demulcent herb to buffer the effects on the kidneys. There is no research or recommendations that taking plantain tea requires ones. Actually, plantain itself is a demulcent also.
• As a styptic it can be chewed or pounded into a paste and applied to a wound to stop minor bleeding. It is very soothing and cooling as it heals. Taken as a tea or in soup it soothes irritated mucous membranes. It will stop the bleeding of minor cuts and when taken internally, ulcers. Although Mrs. M. Grieve, author of A Modern Herbal, disagrees with that stating that they are not useful in internal bleeding although historically it had been used for such. It will slow the flow in excessive menstrual cycles. It also is used for bloody urine.
• This herb is used as a vulnerary to heal wounds, cuts and scratches. Because it is found in high traffic areas around playgrounds, baseball fields and parks it is easy to grab, crush and use. Since it contains epidermal growth factor, it can be used in place of comfrey to repair damaged tissue, treat bruises and broken bones.
• Plantain is also used as an antivenomous herb in its role as a blood cleanser. Terry Willard, author of Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rocky Mountains and Neighbouring Territories, states that it is good to draw out the poison of snake bites. It is an excellent choice for poisonous bites and stings of scorpions and insects. It does a good job in easing the pain of poison ivy. “I don’t know of any itch that can stand up to plantain,” states Susan Weed, director of the Wise Woman Center in Woodstock, New York. (Mandile, p. 27)
• Plantain is used to treat many skin disorders. Christopher Hobbs educates us on skin problems. “It is often said that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but what about the human ‘cover’, your skin? Doctors recognize many varieties of problems and diseases of the skin. Although we can visualize the skin (in contrast to, say the liver), it is often difficult to determine whether a problem is due to attack from various fungi and bacteria or to an internal process such as psoriasis or eczema, or from factors within and without such as an allergic reaction to an ingredient in your soap.
• Plantain does an excellent job as a deobstruent. Removing foreign objects and particles from the body. Teamed up with cayenne the unwanted items work their way out even faster. Plantain’s refrigerant qualities soothe and cool sores and ulcers. It is excellent to ease and heal hemorrhoids as a tea injected after each bowel movement and applied externally.
• The leaves of both plantains contain an Iridoid called aucubin, and flavonolds – antioxidants that strengthen blood vessels and are often anti-inflammatory. Plantain also contains soothing mucilages.



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