One of the many things I am looking forward to this spring is growing my own Plantago major (Plantago lanceolata). This amazing medicinal plant is native to Asia and Europe but was brought to North America by European Settlers. Some Native Americans have even named it “White Man’s Foot” as it was found along the trail of European settlers. This unassuming plant grows wild just about anywhere that receives (abundant) water. Its basal rosette of thick stemmed, oval, strongly veined leaves and spikes of inconspicuous brown flower heads is often discarded as a weed. This is unfortunate because this “weed”, like many medicinal herbs we have relegated to the kingdom of unwelcomed plants, is another one of Mother Earth’s gifts to us all. It’s accessible and readily available to anyone out and about—no need to trail back inside and shorten your adventure to fetch an ointment because this plant, my friends, is a comprehensive medicinal herb that contains high amounts of allantoin, an anti-inflammatory phytochemical that speeds wound healing, stimulates the grow of new skin cells, and give the immune system a lift. It is also anti-inflammatory and antifungal. My mother was the one who taught me about this herb! As an adolescent I spent a lot of time caring for my little brother; we would go on all sorts of little outings and of course, as a typical adventurer, my little brother would end up getting cut or stung. My mother added this to our repertoire of medicinal herbs in our first aid kit, except this one didn’t need to be stored in a kit. She taught us how to identify and harvest the plantain leaf right from the ground. She would pop a cleaned leaf into her mouth and macerate it with her teeth to make a poultice, and then apply it over my brother’s wound. It never failed to stop the bleeding, cleanses the infection and sooth the pain or itch (when stung). I now continue this tradition of herbal healing with my two boys, and even hubby when out and about on an adventure.
Today there are many studies exploring the traditional use of Plantago major across the world. It was found that in Europe, Plantago major was used as early as the 1500s to cure dog bites, boils, fever and flu. It was one of the nine sacred herbs in the Anglo-Saxon medicinal text. In Bosnia this herb was revered in its herbal healing balm, which was used to cure a wide range of ailments such as urogenital track disorder, gastrointestinal disorder, various forms of psoriasis and topical wounds, nervous and cardiovascular disorder, and rheumatism. Balms were made with fresh macerated plant, warm resin, honey, olive oil and cow or pig lard. Native Americans used this herb to cure rattlesnake bites. In Mexico and other parts of the world, including here in the US, Plantago major is becoming more frequently used to cure upper respiratory problems such as coughs, congestion and bronchitis because of its invaluable antiinflamatory and demulcent properties, which forms a soothing film over a mucous membrane, relieving minor pain and inflammation of the membrane.
When you are out enjoying this beautiful weather look for Plantango major. You can even harvest a few leaves and toss them in your salad. They are great for digestion, they help cleanse your blood and are rich in vitamin A, C and K! You really don’t need to grow it in your garden since they are abundant in nature, but, I like to have it growing in my garden for an endless supply. It also ensures that I don’t get traces of dog urine or feces.
1. A tea made with 3 cups of water and ¾ tsp of dry herb is recommended for people with bronchitis or dry cough. A tea can also be used as an eye wash.
2. Plantain tincture can be taken to help respiratory track infection and digestive problems
3. Salves and poultices can be made to apply topically onto wounds, bites, infections, blisters, eczema, rashes, acne and thrush (studies conducted in Brazil have shown the usefulness of this herb in fighting candida, the yeast that causes thrush around nipples, mouth and vagina aka yeast infection)
4. In a salad!
It's ll in nature!
 Margaret L. Ahlborn. History of plantain. From Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/health-benefits-of-plantain-leaf/#4
Sarić-Kundalić B, Dobes C, Klatte-Asselmeyer V, Saukel J. Ethnobotanical study on medicinal use of wild and cultivated plants in middle, south and west Bosnia and Herzegovina. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Aug 19;131(1):33-55. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2010.05.061. Epub 2010 Jun 8.
Holetz FB, Pessini GL, Sanches NR, Cortez DA, Nakamura CV, Filho BP. Screening of some plants used in the Brazilian folk medicine for the treatment of infectious diseases. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2002 Oct;97(7):1027-31.
Thank you for visiting our website and blog. Through this medium, I hope to teach, enlighten, and inspire you about Mother Nature's wonders so that you can discover the true value healthy living. I want to foster a love for Nature so that we, as a collective, can take a stance to protecting our Earth as we indulge in the beautifying remedies Nature has in store for us!