Plantain is one of the most common herbs in North America. It can be found growing anywhere, from cracks in the sidewalk to most lawns, even in places without any sunlight. However, it’s not a harmful type of weed.

An old saying says that plants grow where they are needed most, which is definitely true in the case of plantain. Plantain is a clumped perennial herb standing 10 cm. tall with 30 cm. dense spikes and vibrant yellow stamens. The plant blooms from May to September. Plantain can be divide into 2 types – plantago major and P. lanceolate. Both are used for healing purposes, although herbalists like the second one better as it has broader leaves.

Plantain has been used as a natural remedy for different conditions for millennia. Native Americans have often used it to heal wounds, cure fever and remove toxins caused by stings and bites, including the ones from snakes!

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Plantain as a food source

A common weed may not seem like a powerful medicinal resource, but plantain is exactly that. It is incredibly nutritious and can be used in different dishes and salads. The leaves can be eaten raw in salads and sandwiches, while older leaves must be cooked. Their taste is similar to Swiss chard, which is certainly palatable. The seeds of the plant can be dried and ground, then added to a meal or used as flour. Due to the rich content of vitamins, plantain can provide your body with quality nutrients.

Health benefits of plantain

Plantain has a wide range of health benefits which range from treating superficial wounds to prevention of infections. The potent antimicrobial effects of the herb are due to a biochemical called aucubin which stimulates dermal wound healing. Plantain also contains allantoin, a substance that accelerates the healing of wounds and soothes the affected area. Allantoin extract can often be found in anti-acne creams due to its ability to heal minor wounds and promote healthy skin. According to studies, the substance can also improve skin repair.

Plantain also has astringent properties that clean the body by drying excess secretion in the respiratory tract and digestive system, which makes the herb a great remedy against colds and diarrhea.

Identifying and collecting plantain

While useful, plantain is still an invasive weed which can overcome your garden quickly. If you find it growing out of control, start gathering it and make sure that it’s not treated with chemicals.

You should also learn to identify plantain. It doesn’t have any stems above ground, which means that it should look like a tuft of leaves stemming from the ground. You can identify it by the flower stalks which may not be present always. It’s best to only pick the leaves as they are the most used part of the plant. Pick the mature ones for medicinal use, and the young ones for your sandwiches and salads.

Using plantain for healing

Burns

Apply a plantain poultice on burnt areas, then follow with a plantain bandage and a plantain salve.

Cuts and open sores

To stop the bleeding from cuts, apply some crushed plantain leaves on the area, or wash it with plantain tea or diluted tincture (1 tablespoon of tincture to a glass of water). This will accelerate the healing and prevent infections.

Boils and acne

To remove acne and boils from your face, apply a drop of plantain tincture directly on them.

Mouth ulcers

Swish 2-3 tablespoons of plantain tea 3-4 times in your mouth every day to eliminate mouth ulcers.

Throat pain/infection

To treat and prevent infections in the throat, gargle some plantain tea mixed with 5-10 drops. Ingest the mixture slowly.

Dandruff and other scalp problems

To eliminate dandruff on your head, you should apply some plantain tea or infusion on the scalp and rinse with water after an hour.

Poison ivy/sumac/oak stings

Apply a poultice on the affected area right away, then wash with plantain tea.

Sunburns

Apply a fresh poultice on the area, then wash it with tea and finish with a plantain salve.

Improving liver and kidney function

Consume 1-2 cups of plantain leaves tea every day.

Relieving gastrointestinal inflammation

Put some plantain tincture under the tongue, or drink plantain tea.

Colds, flu, respiratory infections

Put some tincture under the tongue or drink freshly brewed plantain tea.

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Plantain is one of the most common herbs in North America. It can be found growing anywhere, from cracks in the sidewalk to most lawns, even in places without any sunlight. However, it’s not a harmful type of weed. An old saying says that plants grow where they are needed...