plantain broad leaf

Broad leaf plantain

Common Name: Plantain

Latin Name: Plantaog Major (common or broad leaf plantain), Plantago Lanceolata (ribwort or narrow leaf plantain) [used interchangeably].
Origin: Europe
Part used: leaves, seeds, seed hulls/husks
Taste: cool, mainly drying, green, bitter, salty and slightly sweet.

Plantain was called English man’s foot by American Indians, because it came over from Europe and followed the English with every step they took. Even if you know nothing about this plant you could recognize it easily by the seed heads that pop in your yard just a couple days after mowing. Pictured is the broadleaf type. (Near my shoe; beneath that is dandelion, another helpful weed). This pesky weed is one of my favorite first-aid herbs. It is a blessing to me when I see how plentiful it is! Almost everywhere I go I can almost always find this plant growing nearby. Even in cities (in medians and sidewalk cracks), even in the winter (up near buildings, under evergreen bushes). The alterative properties of Plantain makes it an amazing blood purifier. If I get stung, whether it be by a bumblebee, wasp, sweat bee, mosquito, I just grab a couple leaves of this handy plant, chew it up, and spit it out right on to the bite/sting! May seem a bit vulger, but the saliva helps to break down the constituents and allow your body to absorb the properties that much faster. The herb draws out the poision, stops bleeding, and begins healing the wound while reducing inflammation as soon as it is applied. The stinging sensation is almost immediately reduced, if not gone completely. There are many other uses of this plant, but this is my favorite.

pile of plantain

Freshly harvested broad leaf plantain

Constituents: Leaves: mucilage, glycosides (including acubin), tannins, minerals, chlorogenics, ursolic acids, silicic acid. Seeds: mucilage, oils, proteins, starch.

Medical Properties: astringent, diuretic, emollient, vulnerary, antiseptic, alterative, relaxing, expectorant, antispasmodic, antisyphilitic, styptic (hemostatic), demulcent, analgesic (especially for tooth ache). Seeds: demulcent, laxative.

Used In: tones mucous membranes, reduces phlegm, leaves sooth urinary tract infections, ease a dry cough. Ribwort leaves reduce phlegm and those from common plantain are more sutiable for gastric inflammations. Black Plantago Psyllium and Pink P. Ovata seeds make bulking laxatives for a sluggish and irritable bowel. Also used in; diarrhea, hemorrhoids, infections, inflammations, ulcers, bronchitis and excessive menstrual discharge. It will also neutralize stomach acids and normalize all stomach secretions. Useful externally for erysipelas (infection caused by streptococcus pyogenes bacterium), eczema, burns, scalds and applied to wounds and sores.

Preparations and dosage: Leaves: Fresh leaf pack for tooth pain. Fresh juice pressed from leaves take 10 mL 3 x a day for inflamed mucous membranes in cystitis, diarrhea and lung infections. Tincture; made from fresh leaves if possible, for heavy mucous, as in allergic rhinitis or if astringency is needed. Poultice; apply fresh leaves to bees things and slow-healing wounds. Ointment; apply to wounds, burns and hemorrhoids. Wash; use juice for inflammations, sores and wounds. Gargle; used diluted juice for sore throats and mouth/gum inflammations. Syrup; take syrup made from juice for coughs with sore/inflamed throat. Seeds: infusion; for constipation pour 1 c. boiling water over 1 tsp. seed, cool them and drink the mucilage and seeds at night (or capsulated take 2 caps 3 x a day). All plantains have similar properties and can be used interchangeably, but the wider the leaf the more pronounced the diuretic effect.


Kerry Brock, Certified Herbalist and owner at Shawnee Moon, is a researcher of plants, an eater of herbs, a drinker of coffee and a formulator of remedies. She keeps busy trying out pinterest diy’s and often failing at cooking in her backwoods home in rural southeast Missouri with her fantastic husband, Davy, two dogs, an assortment of cats and a unbelievably supportive family near by.


The information contained in this post is for educational purposes only; it is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure disease. It is simply for use in the maintenance and promotion of good health in cooperation with a licensed medical practitioner. Kerry Brock and Shawnee Moon are not licensed to treat or diagnose disease. Consult with your physician for diagnosis or treatment. By using this information you agree that the decisions regarding your health are your own responsibility and understand that Kerry Brock and Shawnee Moon are not liable for your health decisions.

Sources and continued reading:
Prescription for Nutritional Healing James & Phyllis Balch, Weiner’s Herbal Michael Weiner, The New Age Herbalist Richard Mabey The Way of Herbs Michael Tierra, The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine Daniel Mowery, Earl Mindell’s Herb Bible Earl Mindell, Victoria Fortner, The School of Natural Healing Dr. John Christopher, Back to Eden Jethro Kloss, The Complete Medicinal Herbal Penelope Ody, A Modern Herbal Mrs. M. Greieve, The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal David Hoffmann, The Green Pharmacy James A. Duke, Ph.D., 20,000 Secrets of Tea Victoria Zak, The Herb Book John Lust, Various informative websites containing herbal and health information (which are linked in post above).

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