Plantain is a common weed found in many parts of the country. While most people try to eradicate it from their lawn, little do they know the healing power of this “weed”. Plantain can be used both externally, as well as internally. Plantain has been used for hundreds of years both in folk medicine, as well as in herbal healing.
Medicine In Your Own Backyard
Plantain (plantago major) grows wild everywhere in the Northeast, and is little known as a healing herb. In fact, most people think of it as a weed, and try to eradicate it. While not exactly a pretty plant, plantain has it’s place in your natural medicine cabinet. There are several uses both internally and externally. Plantain is also known as Broad Leaf Plantain, Ribwort, and Ripple Grass.
Other species of plantain, such as plantago lanceolata are native to Europe, while others are native to Asia and the Mediterranean.
Using Plantain Topically for Insect Bites
Topically, plantain is great for bug bites. The natural chemicals stops the sting and itching in just minutes. When bitten, take a plantain leaf, and chew it up a bit. Then rub it gently on the stung area. If possible make a poultice and tie a cotton cloth around the wound. The pain and swelling will go down in just a shot time.
Plantain oil, made from steeping plantain in a carrier oil, is a wonderful remedy for rashes and skin irruptions. It also makes a wonderful massage oil for lymph node swellings. You can also use the oil for bug bites and stings. Rub just a little bit of the oil onto the area and then bandage if necessary. Plantain as an oil or ointment works wonderful to help stop itch of bites, rashes, eczema and other skin disorders. It is an ingredient in many natural herbal eczema preparations.
How to Make Plantain Oil
If you want to make plantain oil, instead of buying it, you will need a carrier oil (such as almond, apricot, or olive oil). Grape seed oil is another choice, but it goes rancid quickly and chemicals are used to extract it. You will need either dried or fresh plantain. If using dried, you need half as much as you would fresh, as the dried herb is concentrated. You will also need a jar with a tight fitting lid. A half pint canning jar will work well for this. If using fresh plantain, you need to wilt the plant for at least 24 hours to allow moisture to escape. If you don’t do this, your oil could get a fungus.
After you have all the ingredients ready, here are the steps to making plantain oil.
- 1. Sterilize glass jar in hot water bath for at least 5 minutes. This will help with any contamination.
- 2. Fill glass jar a little over half full dried herb (full if using fresh).
- 3. Pour oil of choice over herb. Leave just a little head room as you may have to add more oil once the herb starts to absorb it.
- 4. Place on sunny windowsill for 8 weeks. Shake jar every couple of days.
- 5. After 8 weeks, strain oil into a dark amber or other dark glass bottle. Be sure to label and date the jar as to what it is.
- 6. To preserve the oil, you can add a few drops of essential oil to it. Lavender, works well because it has it’s own natural healing properties for skin.
Drinking Plantain Tea
Making plantain as a tea, or otherwise known as a tisane, is very simple indeed. Take one tablespoon of herb per cup. You can make a single cup, or make a pot of it. Warm the pot with hot water. This is called “hot the pot”. Dump out that water, and add the desired herb into the pot. Heat enough water for each cup you are making in a separate vessel. Now, pour the heated water over the herb. Let steep 10-15 minutes. Strain off the herb with a tea strainer. Add a little honey, or your favorite sweet. Drink, and enjoy the benefits of nature’s “weed”.
Plantain Tea for Allergies and Congestion
Plantain can be made into a tea or tisane by infusing it as you would other herbs. A tisane is actually a tea made from herbs.
Plantain is a very useful herb in the treatment of allergies and chest congestion. It’s mucilage content helps to decongest and loosen mucous during colds, flu, and seasonal allergies. The expectorant action of plantain helps to clear up a cough. You can drink 3-5 cups a day to clear the chest during an illness.
Drinking a tea, or syrup made with plantain can be very beneficial to easing the cough and phlegm of bronchitis and asthma. The syrup is also wonderful in helping to ease sore throats. Other herbs such as slippery elm can be added to the syrup.
Plantain Seeds for Constipation
Due to the fact that the seeds and seed husks of the plantain plant are so small, they have been nicknamed “flea seed”. The seeds, also known as psyllium, have been used as a laxative for thousands of years all over the world. To use the seeds, they will need to be infused as a tea. Add one teaspoon of dried seed to a cup of boiling water. Let the infusion cool. Drink 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the infusion at night before bed to help with easing constipation. It should only be used for up to a week. If you have trouble with regular constipation, seek professional care. Constipation can be signs of serious disease.
Psyllium seeds were considered a high-fiber food that was part of the Aztec diet, and still used today by many people.
Using What Nature Gave Us
Remember, when those bugs bite, grab some plantain, chew it up, and rub it on your skin. It will take away the sting and the itch.
The next time you see plantain in your yard, pick it, dry it, and save it for later use. You can dry it, and make it into an oil, or use it a tea.
This is written for informational purposes only.
Remember, herbs are natural, but they are medicine. Know which herb is best for you. It is best to contact a health care professional that is well versed in herbs before starting an herbal remedy. Herbs can have contraindications with medications you are currently taking. Herbs can also have interactions with foods you eat, or even other herbs.