Plantain “weeds” are Nature’s first aid kit for everything from cuts and scrapes to bee stings, snake bites, sunburns and poison ivy.
One of the few “gifts” English colonists brought to Native Americans was plantain, a favorite medicinal herb back in Europe.
After witnessing its power, Native Americans quickly adopted it and still use it today as a panacea or “cure-all” for almost every illness and injury brought on by civilization.
They called it White Man’s Foot, as it was often found growing along well-trodden foot paths.
Like many other plants deemed “weeds” by modern Americans, plantain is loaded with nutrients and is one of the most powerful medicines on Earth.
Luckily, no matter how hard we try to eradicate it, it keeps growing where “civilized” humans need it most, through cracks in city streets and sidewalks and all over suburban yards.
From bee stings, snake bites and sunburns, to bronchitis, arthritis and cancer, this plant is revered among practitioners of folk medicine for its ability to cure just about anything.
General medicinal properties of plantain:
- Antibacterial – kills bacteria or prevents bacterial growth
- Antidote – combats toxins
- Astringent – stops bleeding and contracts tissues
- Anti-inflammatory – reduces inflammation
- Antiseptic – kills of prevents microbial growth
- Antitussive – relieves coughing
- Cardiac – strengthens the heart
- Demulcent – soothes and protects mucus membranes
- Diuretic – removes excess water
- Expectorant – loosens mucus and aids its expulsion
- Haemostatic – stops bleeding (external)
- Laxative – relieves constipation
- Ophthalmic – relieves eye conditions
- Poultice – draws infection from a wound
- Refrigerant – cools the body and reduces fever by inducing sweating
- Vermifuge – kill parasitic worms
Specific Medicinal Uses of Plantain:
First Aid/Topical Wound Healing
Plantain can be used as a poultice to draw toxins out of the body. Just chew or crush plantain leaves to release their juices and apply directly to insect bites, bee stings, snake bites, cuts, blisters, splinters, sunburns, poison ivy outbreaks, acne or rashes.
It can also be made into an antiseptic salve to prevent infection in burns and open wounds. The salve also acts as an insect repellent.
Plantain leaves and seeds aid in digestion. They’ve been reported to have a soothing effect for people who’s gut linings have been damaged by prolonged used of anti-inflammatory, analgesic, or antibiotic drugs and people with Celiac disease and food allergies.
They seeds are used to treatment of both constipation and tea made from the leaves is used to treat diaherrea.
Arthritis and muscle soreness
Loaded with calcium and magnesium, plantain is used in the treatment of arthritis.
It’s also applied topically to swollen joints, sore muscles, sprains, and sore feet.
Congestion, respiratory infection
Plantain’s mucus loosening and cough relieving properties make it great for treating colds. Its anti-inflammatory, cooling and pain relieving properties provide relief for sore throats.
It is also widely used in the treatment of bronchitis and tuberculosis.
Plantain’s natural diuretic properties make is useful in all kids of kidney disorders.
The same properties that make plantain an effective wound-healer make it an effective remedy for hemorrhoids. It’s leaves can be made into a salve and applied directly to hemorroids to slow blood flow to the region, reduce inflammation and relieve pain and itching.
Drinking plantain tea and eating the leaves can help provide relief internally.
Plantain is known to lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in blood, as well as balancing blood sugar levels.
Plantain is high in oleanolic acid and ursolic acid, which have long been known to prevent cancer tumor growth.
Instructions on making plantain tea, tinctures and salves can be found here.
For more medicinal uses, check out the section on plantain in American Materia Medica, Therapeutics And Pharmacognosy: