Plantain: A common weed with extensive uses February 19 2015, 0 Comments



 

Plantain (Plantago major) is a common backyard weed that grows pretty much everywhere. It's right up there with dandelions. Most of you probably see it every time you are outside in the warmer months and may not even realize what it is. Although perceived as a pesky weed its actually  a very handy little herb to recognize as its uses are numerous and may be helpful for various issues encountered while out in nature.

The medicinal use of this herb can be found in use dating back to the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans as a potent anti-inflammatory. The above ground portion of the plants are used dried or fresh, generally in the form of a poultice, tea or infusion. The ancient uses still reflect the ways we use this herb today. 

Plantain is often used on the skin for its anti-inflammatory, astringent, and anti-bacterial properties. It can be used to treat inflammation of the skin caused by sunburns, stings, insect bites, rashes, and poison ivy.  It also contains many vitamins and allantoin which are helpful in the promotion wound healing. Additionally it has been shown to help slow or stop bleeding in minor topical wounds. 

Imagine the usefulness of this readily available herb while out on a hike or in the woods where the fresh herb can be picked and crushed into a simple poultice and applied to the skin after a painful sting or bite. Although care should always be taken to not pick herbs from areas that have been treated with chemicals. 


To make a poultice you mash or crush herbs and place them directly on the skin. They can then be left for 30-40 mins and held in place with cloth. After which the herbs can be discarded and reapplied if needed.  Alternatively whole leaves can be applied to a scrape or scratch after bruising the leaves slightly to get the juices released from inside. The leaves can also be picked and made into a tea which can be used to wash infected areas, The same tea can be applied with a cotton ball or tea saturated bandage for issues such as poison oak or poison ivy. You may also consider using the tea to cleanse and soothe inflamed skin, wounds, or other rashes. Additionally an herbal oil infusion can easily be made and stored to apply topically to rashes, eczema and other conditions caused by skin inflammation. 

Although plantain has no known contraindications or side effects, caution should always be used when starting the use of a new herb or remedy.  Always know your herb before picking it outside for use, make sure you have identified it properly and collected it from an area you are certain has not been sprayed with chemicals. When in doubt purchase already dried herbs from your local herb store or reputable source online.