Plantain: One of My Top 10 Herbs for Staying Healthy
When someone mentions plantain the first thing most people think of is the banana-like food in the grocery store. This however is not the plantain I am referring to. Plantain (Plantago major) is a leafy plant that many consider to be a weed. While anything can be a weed if it is somewhere it’s not wanted, this plant has a whole host of healing and health benefits that make it a treasure to have around.
A Healing History
Plantain has a long history as a medicinal herb. To the Saxons, it was one of their nine sacred herbs. It has been used by the Native Americans, in Medieval Europe, and even in ancient Greece for ailments as diverse as stings and bites to colds, skin infections, and even prostate enlargement. It has only been since the advent of modern pharmaceuticals that plantain, and many other herbs, have begun to be forgotten.
A Breath of Fresh Air
One of plantain’s greatest strengths is as a lung tonic, meaning that it helps improve the function of the lungs. For this reason I use it a lot in any tea I make for colds or flu, and just for general health teas too. It works especially well for those nagging coughs that seem to last forever. It is also helpful for any other breathing problems. Many people who are allergic to pharmaceutical decongestants can use plantain instead without a problem. In my experience it works better too, probably because it supports the whole body instead of just focusing on one part of it. Check out my hub A Breath Better Tea for one of my tea recipes with plantain.
It Clears Infection and Detoxifies
I personally use plantain in my face scrub to detoxify my skin as well as heal and prevent any skin infection. Historically it has also been used for everything from ringworm to shingles. It is an excellent remedy for itchy or painful bites of any kind. My daughter gets welts from mosquito bites, but putting plantain on it takes away both the itch and the swelling. It’s a time honored remedy for stings as well. Not only does plantain detoxify externally, but when taken as a tea it detoxifies from the inside out. It is beneficial for the stomach, digestive tract, bowel, liver, and urinary tract in addition to the lungs as I mentioned above.
Made to Order
Because plantain has so many beneficial properties it works well with pretty much any other herb you want to combine it with. Straight plantain tea is rather bland so it mixes well with other herbs. But tea is not the only way you can use it. If you make infused oil, it works great in healing creams and salves. As I mentioned above, I use it as part of my face scrub. You can also make a tincture, which is more potent than a tea, or use it in a cough syrup. Your purpose in using it is what will determine the form you use in. You can also use different applications simultaneously as well. Take skin problems for example; you can use the tea both internally and topically as a wash, and combine that with a gentle face scrub containing plantain and a healing cream or salve to moisturize and heal it afterward. The possibilities are endless.
How to make a tincture.
Do you use herbs for health?
A Note on Plantain
To my knowledge, plantain does not have any known side effects or interactions with any medication. However, I do recommend researching any herb you plant to use before you use it. And if you take medication, always talk to your doctor or pharmacist first. Herbs are medicine too, and they can intensify or nullify other types of medication. This is especially true when taken internally. You need to take extra care if you are pregnant when using any herbs because there are a great many that affect the female reproductive system. So, as always, please research the herbs yourself before taking them. You know best what is going on with your body because you are the one in it.
Disclaimer: This information has not been approved by the FDA. It is meant for informational purposes only and not meant to treat or diagnose any illness or disease. Always talk to your doctor and/or naturopath before using herbs, especially if you are currently taking medication.