Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Plantago major
   Plantain is a gem of a "weed" that is so commonly available that everyone should be aware of it. The power of this little gardeners nuisance is strong enough to treat snake bites, bee stings, spider bites and even severe blood poisoning. Our experience with this herb has been mainly with stings and bites, but also with a case of blood poisoning in my youngest daughter when she had just turned 2. 

   Children can be taught easily to identify this plant and shown how to use it in the case of bug bites and stings. When no mortar and pestle are available, mashing between two clean rocks works, as well as chewing some in the mouth and applying it to the bite work equally as well.

   Mainly used as a poultice, but also as tincture, or tea, plantain is otherwise know as ribwort.

Here is the excerpt from Dr. Christophers School of Natural Healing:

  Both the roots and leaves have moderately diffuse and stimulating alterative effects for the circulatory system. They also assist the glandular system, healing the lymph and epidermal areas in scrofulous and skin diseases. Plantain is an excellent remedy for kidney and bladder troubles. It is an effective remedy for poisonous bites and stings, since the poison of fresh stings is extracted rapidly, often within an hour's time.
  It is the best herb for blood poisoning: reducing the swelling and completely healing a limb where poisoning has made amputation imminent. Finally, it is very useful for easing pain and healing problems in the lower intestinal tract. This valuable "weed" is often found in soils close to most habitations, in parks, sports fields, etc.

Plantago lanceolata
    When our daughter started complaining of her owie when I'd bump her toes putting her socks on or just padding around the house I chalked it up to exaggerating. She did have the remains of a split underneath her toe where the skin had stretch so far as to pop open. Those can be pretty sore and irritating, I know! But everything looked OK, a little pink where the new skin had healed over, but otherwise fine. 

   About 3 to 4 days after she started complaining I looked (yet again) to see if I had missed anything, perhaps a splinter or something, and saw the tell tale streak of red running from the previously injured toe up the top of her foot. Sure enough the whole toe was swollen, as the wound had healed from the skin down instead of from the inside out, and blood poisoning had started making itself known. Three hours after applying a simple Plantain poultice (mashed up leaves) the red streak was almost completely gone. I renewed it for overnight and all redness was gone by morning. It was still swollen pretty well and I percieved that there was a good deal of infection still left. So we used some of the Black Ointment to draw it out. By afternoon the goo had all but completely drained from around the toe and healthy flesh and skin was visible. We went ahead and did another plantain poultice for extra measure and then used a comfrey ointment as the wound healed up the second time. 

   Can you imagine the cost we avoided by taking care of this at home? I'd wager several hundred dollars. Not to mention the damage to her liver and glands with all the antibiotics we would have been prescribed. Add to that the follow-up visits, the cost in time from my husbands work schedule and the resulting loss of pay.  All completely avoided because of this God-given herb that so many try to eradicating from their lawns with all sorts of chemicals!

   Plantain has two familiar forms- Plantago major, or broad leaved plantain with its familiar seed spikes (picture #1) and Plantago lanceolata which has a small flower spike with little ray like petals (picture #2). Both are equal in medicinal potency. Although easily identifiable, make sure there are prominent veins or ribs on the back of the plants leaves (which also makes it easy to identify in the dark!)

   In any case make yourself aware of this useful herb and remember to rinse and dry some for winter use as well.


1 comment:

  1. I have come to love plantain my 3 year old at the time was stung by a bee I grabbed some leaves and chewed them a bit and then put it on his hand and he only screamed louder. So I washed it off his hand only to realize I'd put it on the wrong spot. Once again I chewed some of the leaves and put it on the right spot on his hand and he instantly stopped crying. I was totally amazed. I am finding your blog very interesting. I'm a new follower!