Greater Plantain (Plantago major)
Greater plantain is a perennial herb from Europe that has spread all over the world. In many areas, it is considered a noxious common weed. Plantain's usefulness is not appreciated by most people. The Native Americans called it White Man's Foot because they said this herb grew wherever the white man stepped. Easy to grow, plantain has large oval ribbed leaves that grow from a central base. Flower stalks rise from the center topped by a slender spike that is densely packed with tiny flowers. They bloom almost all summer long.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Greater Plantain is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. It has been used as an alternative medication for asthma, emphysema, bronchitis and other respiratory problems due to its abilities as an expectorant. It is also used for bladder problems, fever, hypertension, rheumatism and to regulate blood sugar. A decoction of plantain can be used for diarrhea, dysentery, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcers, hemorrhage, hemorrhoids, sinusitis and hay fever.
It causes a natural aversion to tobacco. Plantain can be used to limit excess menstrual flow, to relieve colitis and incontinence. It is a mild diuretic. It may slow tuberculin and staphylococcus infections. It removes obstructions in the liver and helps jaundice as well as aiding detoxification of the body. It is showing promise as a controlling herb for cholesterol and as a laxative.
Externally Greater Plantain leaves can help wounds stop bleeding when applied directly to the surface. The leaves can also be heated and applied to inflammation of the skin, ulcers, cuts, stings and swellings. A poultice of leaves that have been heated will draw out thorns, splinters and infection. The root has been used for snake bites. It can also be used as an eye wash for irritated eyes.
Other Uses Plantain leaves can be eaten as a bitter green when young, either in salads or as a cooked green.
Herbs to Combine/Supplement
Greater plantain can be added to comfrey, chickweed and calendula to make an all-purpose salve.
Whole plant The entire plant can be used medicinally.
There are no known contraindications for greater plantain's use. It does not interact with any known drugs or herbs.
Preparation and Dosage
An herbal tea can be made from 1 tablespoon of dry or fresh plantain (roots, leaves and seed) in 1 cup of boiling water. Steep tea for 10 minutes and strain. Sweeten if you wish with honey. Drink as needed during the day. Plantain can also be made into a salve by adding 1 pound of chopped plant into a jar of olive oil.
Remove all air bubbles and cap. Let the herb steep for six weeks in a dark place, shaking daily. Strain out herbs and add the oil to a small amount of melted beeswax to create the desired consistency. Pour into small jars. When cool, use for burns, diaper rash, insect bites, cuts, rashes and any other skin irritation.