Posted by admin | Posted in Plantain | Posted on 13-01-2015

A lawn weed? Or a most useful medicine.

Plantago major
[plan-TA-go MAY-jor]

Family: Plantaginaceae

Names: waybread, waybroad, wagbread, white man’s foot, englishman’s foot, cuckoo bread, snakeweed, devil’s shoestring, common plantain, rabbit ears, ripple grass, slan-lus, healing blade, dooryard plantain, bird seed, rat’s tails; Babka lancetowata, Babka Waskolistna (Polish); Wegerich (German); Biih hiljaa’i – “like a deer’s ear” (Navajo); lanten (Mexican)

Pharmaceutical Name: Herba Plantaginis majoris

Description: The greater plantain is usually perennial and survives the winter by means of its short rootstock set with long fibrous roots. The five to seven-veined leaves are all arranged in a basal rosette that lies flat on the ground. Each plant grows long, upright or ascending flower stems carrying cylindrical spikes densely covered with flowers. The yellow anthers hang conspicuously from the small yellowish-green flowers to facilitate wind pollination. The style protrudes from the flower long before flowering to prevent self-pollination. The outer coat of the small seeds swells up and becomes sticky when moistened, so they are readily distributed by man and animal. It blooms from May to August.

Cultivation: Common plantain a perennial to zone 2 and native to Europe and temperate regions of Asia. Rarely cultivated, it is normally picked from the wild. If cultivated it is propagated by seed and prefers slightly rich, moist ground in full sun or partial shade. Divisions can also be used. Spacing should be 12 inches in the row and the rows spaced at 24-30 inches. Weed heavily when young and continue to cultivate when needed. The leaves are gathered throughout the summer before flowering. Two to four harvests are possible annually starting in the second year. Cut the leaves with pruning shears. A yield of 2,000 pounds of dry herb per acre is possible. Plantain turns brown easily so dry it immediately. It dries easily in 3-7 days.

Constituents: Contains iridoids (such as aucubin), flavonoids (including apigenin), monoterpene alkaloids, glycosides, sugars, triterpenes, linoleic acid, tannins, iroids, silica, plant acids, and mucilage. Aucubin increases uric acid excretion by the kidneys; apigenin is anti-inflammatory. Plantain provides beta carotene and calcium.

Properties: leaves are relaxing expectorant, tonify mucous membranes, reduce phlegm, antispasmodie, topically healing, diuretic, alterative, astringent, refrigerant, vulnerary

History: In Gaelic, this herb is known as “the healing plant” because it was used in Ireland to treat wounds and bruises. It is a plant that has accompanied European colonization around the world—some Native Americans called it “Englishman’s foot” because it seemed to spring up in the footsteps of white settlers. Plantain is one of the plants mentioned in the Saxon ‘nine herbs charm’. The Latin name plantago was derived from the word planta meaning “sole of the foot, alluding to the resemblance between the shape of the leaves and that part of the body. Another version is that plantain is the Old French version of the Latin plantago meaning “plant.” It was called waybread because it commonly bred by the wayside. The leechbooks mention it frequently and recommend its use for more than 20 different ailments, including one affliction for which the use of Plantain is advised “in case a man’s body be hard.” The Anglo-Saxons used it to treat smallpox. Chaucer referred to it and Shakespeare mentions it in his plays. In France, to ensure their immunity before attacking a viper, weasels were said to roll in clumps of plantain. Farmers planted it for their sheep to graze on. The gelatinous matter obtained from soaking the seedhead was once used to stiffen muslin.
To stop vomiting, the patient was fed a cake made with plantain seeds, egg yolk, add flour. Mixed with oil of roses, plantain juice was rubbed on the temples and forehead and “helped lunatic persons very much”. Canaries and many little wildbirds are quite fond of the ripe seeds of plantain. Bunches of seed spikes used to be hung in birdcages and wild birds can frequently be observed feasting on the seeds. This habit may well account for the custom of calling Plantain cuckoo bread in Devonshire; it was believed that once every seven years, the plantain changed into a cuckoo and flew away.
Trotula, a healer and midwife, advised using plantain to treat uterine hemorrhages and insisted that it can restore “the very essence of a woman” to the extent that it could give a woman the appearance of being a virgin.

Energetics: slightly sweet, salty, and bitter; cool, mainly drying

Meridians/Organs affected: bladder, small intestine, gall bladder

Medicinal uses: Common plantain quickly staunches blood flow and encourages the repair of damaged tissue. It may be used instead of comfrey in treating bruises and broken bones. An ointment or lotion may be used to treat hemorrhoids, fistulae and ulcers. Taken internally, common plantain is diuretic, expectorant, and decongestant. It is commonly prescribed for gastritis, peptic ulcers, diarrhea, dysentery, irritable bowel syndrome, respiratory congestion, loss of voice and urinary tract bleeding. The seeds are closely related to psyllium seeds and can be used similarly, a tablespoon or two soaked in hot sweetened water or fruit juice until a mucilage is formed and the whole gruel drunk as a lubricating laxative. The fresh juice can be made into a douche for vaginitis by combining two tablespoons and a pint of warm water with a pinch of table salt. Proteolytic enzymes found in the fresh leaf and the fresh or dried root make plantain useful as a gentle internal vasoconstrictor for milk intestinal inflammation. The fresh juice or dried leaves in tea can help bladder inflammations. The fresh juice can be preserved with 25% vodka or 10% grain alcohol. Take one teaspoon in warm water one hour before every meal for mild stomach ulcers. For bed-wetting plantain leaf can be given as a beverage-strength tea throughout the day (but not right before bedtime).
Plantain roots are an old-time cure for toothaches. Fresh, the roots used to be chewed, dried and powdered and placed in a hollow tooth as a painkiller. The Chippewa used plantain leaves to draw out splinters from inflamed skin, and as vulnerary poultices. They favored the fresh leaves, spreading the surface of these with bear grease before applying them and renewing the poultices when the leaves became dry or too heated. Sometimes they replaced the bear grease with finely chopped fresh roots, or else applied the chopped roots directly to the wound. For winter use, they greased fresh leaves and tightly wrapped stacks of them in leather. The Iroquois used the fresh leaves to treat wounds, as well as coughs, colds, and bronchitis. The Shoshone applied poultices made from the entire plant to battle bruises, while the Meskawaki treated fevers with a tea made from the root.
Traditional Chinese medicine uses plantain to treat urinary problems, dysentery, hepatitis and lung problems, especially asthma and bronchitis. The seeds are used for bowel ailments. Plantain is also found in African and southeast Asian folk medicine. Research in India has shown its beneficial effects in treating coughs and colds.
Navajo Uses: The root of plantain is one of the life medicines. The plant is used to treat many internal problems: indigestion, stomachache, heartburn, venereal disease, and loss of appetite. It is also a diuretic.

REMEDIES: for yeast infections ripe plantain seeds can be gathered from the seed stalks in late summer, dried and stored in a jar. Soak them in a small amount of boiled water. The seeds will form a gel which can be gently placed onto inflamed labia to help reduce itching and swelling and heal open sores.
JUICE: Press from fresh leaves. Take 10 ml, three times a day, for inflamed mucous membranes in cystitis, diarrhea and lung infections
TINCTURE: Make from fresh leaves if possible. Good for heavy mucus, as in allergic rhinitis, or if astringency is needed
POULTICE: apply fresh leaves to bee stings and slow-healing wounds
OINTMENT: apply to wounds, burns and hemorrhoids
WASH: use the juice for inflammations, sores and wounds
GARGLE: Use the diluted juice for sore throats and mouth or gum inflammations
SYRUP: Take a syrup made from the juice for coughs, particularly if the throat is sore of inflamed.

Revitalizing Green Juice:
Cups fresh plantain leaves
1 cup pure liquid honey
Crush the leaves in a food processor, drain and squeeze in cheesecloth. Combine 1 cup of the green juice with the honey and simmer for 10 minutes at low heat, stirring regularly. Let cool and pour into an opaque bottle. Take this nectar 1 spoonful at a time like a syrup to treat a cough, sore throat, fatigue and eczema. 1 Tbsp 3 times daily.

Tonic for Bites, Poison Ivy
½ cup chopped plantain
½ cup chopped lemon balm
½ cup chopped comfrey leaves
½ cup chopped borage leaves
4 cup boiling water
4 cups witch hazel
Make herb water: Combine herbs in large pot with a lid. Pour boiling water over, and cover with lid. Allow to stand 15 minutes. Strain liquid into sterilized jar, seal and store in refrigerator. Herb water keeps up to 3 weeks. Make tonic: Mix 12/ cup of herb water and ½ cup witch hazel. Store in refrigerator. Rub afflicted skin liberally with cotton dipped in tonic or soak swatches of cotton in tonic and lay over skin. Reapply as often as required. (Recipes from Riversong)
HOMEOPATHIC USES: Plantago major is used for earache, toothache, and eye pain due to tooth decay or ear infection. Pyorrhea, depression, and insomnia are treated by it. It causes an aversion to tobacco.

Cosmetic Uses:
Fill a saucepan with the leaves and add the juice of a lemon and 1 pint of water. Simmer for 20 minutes, strain and when cool, add a fluid ounce of witch hazel. Bottle and keep under refrigeration.

Ritual Uses: Plantain, an herb of Venus, was an important element in numerous charms and love divinations. A rite of great antiquity was two flowering stalks of plantain were picked to represent the man and woman in question. The fluffy blossoms were carefully removed, and both stalks were wrapped in a dock leaf and laid under a stone. The next morning the stalks were unwrapped. If both stalks bore new blossoms, there would be real love between the ma and woman; if only one stalk bore flowers, there would be unrequited love. Plantain has a compassionate stability that finds opportunity for growth in every situation. It’s hung in the home and the car as an herb of protection.
For the old Germans, plantain embodied those souls who still sought the light after entering the Underworld. The ancient Greeks and Romans also believed in Plantain’s connection to these powers. The following is a spell from the 11th century marking plantain’s position as a plant of the Roman god Orcus and his daughter Proserpina goddess of death. “Plantain, herb of Proserpina, Daughter of King Orcus! As you have made infertile the mule, So may you also shut the wave of blood from this woman’s womb!” The best time of year to gather plants for amulets is between August 15th and September 8th (Women’s Thirty Days).
Navajo Uses: It is used in the prayers for protection in the Deer Way and is also smoked for a ceremonial tobacco. The stalk is a ceremonial lighter.

Culinary Uses:
This is a plant which should be picked very young, and, if cooked, it should be done thoroughly as it tends to be tough. The leaves have a nutty flavor, similar to Swiss chard and a small quantity of delicate central leaves may be used, finely chopped in a mixed or rice salad. The strong leaf fibers can easily be removed after boiling the herb which greatly improves its palatability. It is high in vitamins C, A. and K. The seeds, which contain protein, have a nut-like flavor and were ground and made into breads, usually mixed with flowers. Early Australian settlers used plantain seeds to substitute for sago in puddings. Aborigines made a kind of porridge from shade plantain.

Chicken and Plantain Cream
8 oz young plantain leaves
2 oz butter
1 ½ lb raw chicken, diced in small pieces
2 oz walnuts
salt and ground black pepper
½ pint double cream
Wash the plantain leaves, having discarded any tough stems, put in boiling salted water and cook until tender. Drain well and chop. Melt the butter in a frying pan and toss the chicken in it until it begins to color. Roughly chop the walnuts and add them with the plantain leaves to the pan and cook together for a further 5 to 8 minutes. Season, then add the double cream, scraping up and amalgamating it with the buttery juices. Stir for 5 minutes or so until the cream thickens. Service with plain boiled potatoes or rice and a green vegetable. (Food from the Countryside)

Plantain with Baked Eggs
For each serving allow 2 oz plantain leaves, 1 Tbsp double cream, a knob of butter, salt, pepper, a little nutmeg and an egg. Boil the chopped plantain leaves until tender, drain well and mix with a very little butter, half the cream, salt and pepper. Put in the bottom of a lightly-buttered ramekin. Break an egg on top of the plantain, spoon over the rest of the cream and sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake in a moderate oven until the eggs are set to your liking. Serve with fingers of hot brown toast. (Food from the Countryside)

Plantain Seed—Quinoa Pilaf
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
¼ cup common plantain seed capsules
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh basil or 2 tsp dried basil
1 clove garlic
1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
1 Tbsp olive oil
Bring the water to a boil and add the quinoa and plantain seeds. When the grains are fluffy turn off the heat and add the remaining ingredients. Let sit 5 minutes before serving. (Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places)

Wild Plantain Cookies
2 cups whole wheat flour
¾ cup plantain seeds (dried or fresh)
4 Tbsp baking powder
2 Tbsp molasses
½ cup carob covered raisins
Mix all ingredients well in a big bowl. Add tepid water to slowly form a thick, claylike paste. To form cookies, roll a pinch of dough between your palms and press onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes at 350F or until golden brown. (The Herbal Connection Collection)

A City Herbal, Maida Silverman, 1977, Alfred A. Knopf, ISBN: 0-394-49852-6
The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, Dorling Dindersley, 1993; ISBN: 1-56458-187-X
Cosmetics from the Earth, Roy Genders, Alfred van der Marck, 1985; ISBN: 0-912383-20-8
A Druid’s Herbal, Ellen Evert Hopman, Destiny Books, 1995; ISBN: 0-89281-501-9
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants,Andrew Chevallier, Dorling Kindersley, 1996; ISBN: 0-7894-0672
Food from the Countryside, Avril Rodway, 1988, Grange Books, ISBN: 1-85627-276-1
The Herbal Connection Collection, Maureen Rogers & Patricia Sulick, 1994
Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places, Steve Brill with Evelyn Dean, Hearst Books, 1994; ISBN: 0-688-11425-3
The Illustrated Herb Encyclopedia, Kathi Keville, Mallard Press, 1991, ISBN: 0-7924-5307-7
Just Weeds, Pamela Jones, Prentice Hall, 1991; ISBN: 0-13-514118-4
Medicinal Herbs in the Garden, Field & Marketplace, Lee Sturdivant and Tim Blakley, San Juan Naturals, 1999, ISBN: 0-9621635-7-0
Medicine of the Earth, Susanne Fischer-Rizzi, Rudra Press, 1996; ISBN: 0-915801-59-0
Nanise’: A Navajo Herbal, Vernon O Mayes and Barbara Bayless Lacy, Navajo Community College Press, 1989; ISBN: 0-912586-62-1
Wild Medicinal Plants, Anny Schneider, Stackpole Books, 2002; ISBN: 0-8117-2987-7
HERBALPEDIA™ is brought to you by The Herb Growing & Marketing Network, PO Box 245, Silver Spring, PA 17575-0245; 717-393-3295; FAX: 717-393-9261; email: URL: Editor: Maureen Rogers. Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Material herein is derived from journals, textbooks, etc. THGMN cannot be held responsible for the validity of the information contained in any reference noted herein, for the misuse of information or any adverse effects by use of any stated material presented

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter