Among the dandelions and buttercups growing in my driveway, and other gravel areas around the house, is another very beneficial plant that many regard as a weed with most of us just stepping on it or driving over it without giving it any thought. Like dandelions, Plantain, also known as Broadleaf Plantain, has multiple uses and all parts of the plant are safe to eat and use in teas, balms and poultices.
Plantain is rich in vitamins A, C & K and calcium. It lubricates, soothes and protects internal mucous membranes, is astringent and anti inflammatory and helps stop bleeding. As a poultice it is one of the best remedies for insect bites, stings, burns or when you have accidentally brushed up against stinging nettle, as I did last week. 🙂 It will also pull out splinters and infectious material or pus from boils and abscesses. You can chew the leaves or crush them with a pestle and mortar, apply them to the site, bandage it and leave it for 4-12 hours to bring relief. It is a wonderful to have in a balm in emergency kits for almost all skin complaints. I personally make a balm with an oil infusion of calendula and plantain for when my dog’s paw pads get chapped and dry – and end up using it on my skin too to heal various ailments!
Plantain is very useful for reducing inflammation inside the body. As a tea it has been used to treat sore throats, laryngitis, coughs, bronchitis and mouth sores, as well as ease digestive or urinary tract discomfort. The leaves can be heated and applied to sore or swollen joints, and to ease sprains, pulled muscles and sore feet. The leaves can also be added raw to salads or stir fries. There are some studies that show plantain may reduce blood pressure.
Plantain seeds can be roasted and ground and then used with other seed and grain mixtures to add bulk and absorb-able fibre and helps reduce blood cholesterol. They can be used in teas to treat diarrhea, intestinal worms and any bleeding of the mucous membranes.
Chewing on plantain roots can be used to help relieve toothaches and heal gums, as well as for headaches.
Although considered safe for pets there are some animals that may be allergic if they are predisposed to other plant allergies. It is always wise to test for sensitivity first by applying a small amount of poultice to the skin and checking for a reaction. If using internally start with a small dose and keep an eye out for watery eyes, sneezing or other signs of an allergic response.
Plantain is also known as cart track plant in South Africa and as White Man’s foot in the USA due to way it was disseminated when it was introduced from Europe.