The benefits of plantain seem almost too many to list. I will however, do my best.
Who would think that a weed commonly pulled from ones lawn or garden could have so many nutritional and medicinal benefits? This abundant nutritional and medicinal plant grows all around the world and is plentiful throughout North America with very few exceptions.
So what exactly can we do with this interesting and plentiful wild plant?
Well, for starters, eat them!!!
Rich in vitamins A, C and K, young leaves can be eaten raw in salads or in sandwiches, are excellent in eggs and a fantastic addition to soup, stews and stir-fries. Tasting similar to Swiss chard this little 'weed' is the perfect addition to your menu.
Medicinally, the leaves and leaf juice are used in salves and lotions or straight juice for treating everything from insect bites and stings, to burns and cuts. The leaves are said to contain anti-inflammatory properties and are rich in the flavonoids allantonin (a nitrogenous compound that promotes healing of injured skin cells). Allantoin has been proved to promote wound healing, speed up cell regeneration, and have skin-softening effects.
It has been shown in many texts that plantain has been used to treat soar throats, laryngitis, coughs and bronchitis as well as mouth sores by making a strong tea and drinking, gargling or swishing in the mouth. The leaf juice has also been used as a blood cleanser in traditional folk medicines.
Medicinally, plantain is an astringent, demulcent, emollient, cooling, vulnerary, expectorant, antimicrobial, antiviral, antitoxin, and diuretic. Plantain is approved by the German Commission E (a German agency that studies and regulates herbs and herbal uses) for internal use to ease coughs and mucous membrane irritation associated with upper respiratory tract infections as well as topical use for skin inflammations. Two Bulgarian clinical trials have suggested that plantain may be effective in the treatment of chronic bronchitis.
The leaves can be bruised, heated and placed on sore muscles, swollen joints and sore feet. As well, if you're out in the woods with no band aids this leafs makes an excellent substitute by making a spit poultice and placing it over the wound then wrapping it with a whole leaf, tying can even be done with the stringy tough veins of the plant.
In Latin America, plantain has been commonly used a folk medicine for treating cancer.
Can we find anything in history related to plantain?
William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
Take thou some new infection to thy eye,
And the rank poison of the old will die.
Your plantain-leaf is excellent for that.
For what, I pray thee?
For your broken shin.
Alexander the Great (356 B.C.-323 B.C.) used plantain to cure his headaches.
Pedanius Dioscorides (40 BC-90BC), was a Greek born in what is today Turkey but at his time it was part of the Roman Empire. He studied medicine in Egypt and was a physician in the Roman Army.
He used plantain for its soothing, cooling, healing and softening properties
In ancient India when the mongoose fought against a cobra, it was noticed that if bitten, the mongoose would use plantain to neutralize the venom.
And more recently:
The interdisciplinary study group on the evolution of medicinal plants at the Institute of Medical History at Würzburg University has named ribwort plantain the medicinal plant of the year 2014.
Fantastically enough, due to this information age we live in, you can find the study here :
After studying, experimenting with and utilizing this fabulous wild plant I have been able to create healing salves, a cold tincture, and many delicious meals, I've used the strong tea as a scalp rinse for dandruff, made a body butter with the addition of other wild plants, a face tonic and salve and am currently looking at how I can use the seeds as an addition to my organic flours for further nutritional benefits. I've looked at so many different plants and this one for me is an excellent go to. We even use the salve to heal our tattoos!
I think I could write on it's benefits all day. My suggestion is that you try it for yourself to see. You won't be disappointed :)
Edible & Medicinal Plants of Canada
MacKinnon, Kershaw, Arnason, Owen, Karst & Hamersley/Chambers
I'm located in the Niagara Region of Southern Ontario, Canada.
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