This is a very common weed. It is a dark green perennial with round to oblong basal leaves 4 to 8 cm across, with prominent ribs. The flowering spikes are up to 30 cm high and end in cylindrical blunt clusters of small green flowers.
Introduced from Europe, the stuff grows everywhere; it was called ‘White man’s foot’ by the aboriginal people of both North America and New Zealand because it seemed to appear at every settlement.
It may be found at roadsides, and most disturbed areas such as pastures, fields, lawns. It grows taller amongst grasses. Not cultivated these days, it can be easily wild-harvested if required, just be sure the area hasn’t been sprayed. At one time it was grown as fodder for sheep. It grows easily in the poorest soil. Leaves are gathered throughout summer during flowering time. They must be rapidly dried to avoid discolouration.
This wonderful plant is a versatile remedy used chiefly for its positive influence upon all epithelial tissue. This means any tissue that is at some point exposed to the outside of the body, including skin, the entire digestive tract, the respiratory system, urinary, and parts of the reproductive system. It lends a healing, soothing, drawing effect internally and externally. It has also been shown to have complex effects on the cardiovascular system.
Some of its actions include: antihistamine, anti-bacterial, lymphatic blood tonic, antihaemorrhagic, diuretic, expectorant, demulcent, astringent, antacid, emollient, and vulnerary. It stimulates the secretion of uric acid by the kidneys, which is very helpful in cases of gout.
Internally, it may be used in chronic blood disorders, neuralgic troubles, intermittent fever, kidney and bladder disorders, bedwetting, irritable bowel, dysentery, bleeding haemorrhoids, diverticulosis/itis, any gastrointestinal ulceration, as an expectorant in coughs, mild bronchitis, and respiratory allergies, heavy menses, or hyperacidity.
Externally, Plantain is highly effective used on stubborn healing wounds, ulcers, skin eruptions, malignancies, erysipelas, burns, insect bites, snake bites, haemorrhoids,
The seeds may be substituted for flax as a bulking agent; indeed, it is of the same family as the commonly used psyllium. The leaves are a delicious pot herb and salad green.
Cautions and Considerations
How to Use Plantain
1 tsp of dried leaf plant is steeped in 1c or boiling water for 15min and drunk at a rate of ½ – 1c three times daily.
The juice may be taken in doses of 1-2 tsp three times daily or mixed with honey and taken for cough and sore throat as needed.
A tincture is made in a ratio of 1:5 in 25% alcohol and taken in doses of 5 ml three times per day to a maximum of 100 ml per week.
The powder in capsules or tablets is taken in 200 mg doses three times per day.
Externally, it may be applied directly as juice, juice mixed in honey, or as a poultice, infused oil, or in a salve or cream. An infusion can be used as a gargle, enema, or douche.
Iridoids; Flavinoids; Miscellaneous-tannin, oleanolic acid, plant acids; Minerals-potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, silica
Plantain works well with many plants including with Coltsfoot for cough, with Calendula and Greater Celandine as a healing ointment, and coupled with Goldenseal for wounds.
* Pliny suggests that its healing powers are so great that if a few leaves are placed in a pot with pieces of flesh, they will knit themselves together again.