Plantain – Healing Herb Growing Right Under Your Feet

plantain
plantain long leaf
plantain

There are two types of plantain. The plant with broad, oval leaves are called Plantago major and the narrow-leaved type P. lanceolata. You can identify this plant by the 5-9 parallel veins running the length of each leaf. (Most leaves have a central vein with smaller ones branching out from it.)

You can use either one for healing purposes, depending on what’s available, but most herbalists seem to prefer the broad leaf plantain with larger, but softer, edible leaves. I have both growing in my yard.

I have included a picture of this plant so you will know what to look for. If you don’t already have it growing in your yard somewhere, go out along the road or in the mountains and find some and replant them in your garden.

What are the benefits and uses of Plantain?

I use this herb all the time. During the summer while it is growing in my yard, I pick it, crush it and apply it to stings, and mosquito bites. I also dry it so I will have access to it during the winter months. It is one of the key ingredients in my healing salve, (which is very easy to make). You can find the tutorial here.

plantain

Externally

  • Antiseptic properties
  • Anti-inflammatory: Reduces pain caused by poison ivy and bite stings.
  • Extracts of the plant have antibacterial activity
  • Effective treatment to stop bleeding
  • Encourages the repair of damaged tissue, promotes healing without scars

Because of its drawing properties, it will pull small foreign objects like stingers or slivers out of the skin. It is quite incredible.

Internally

  • diuretic
  • expectorant, and decongestant
  • gastritis
  • peptic ulcers
  • diarrhea
  • dysentery
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • respiratory congestion
  • loss of voice and urinary tract bleeding

You can purchase plantain for internal use in fluid extract, tincture, decoction, infusion and dried powder form and the fresh and dried leaves can be consumed as a tea.

*Although plantain leaf is generally considered safe, it is always best to consult with your health-care practitioner before starting any new herbal product.

How to use plantain externally

Poultice

You can make a poultice by bruising the plant, chopping finely or heating to make a thick paste.

You can make a poultice and apply it to wounds, skin inflammations, cuts, stings and swellings. It is the juice from the leaf that speeds up the healing process.

Pick a few leafs, crush it or chew it well and put it on the bite or wound. “Like magic” the pain, heat, and swelling — even allergic reactions — disappear, fast! You can dry plantain leaves and carry them in your first aid kit. Chew like you would fresh leaves and apply it.

I was with a youth group up in the mountains hiking when one of the boys went down into a ravine and came upon a bunch of bees, he was stung multiple times. Luckily, I knew what plantain looked like and had been taught what to do with it. Well, I looked down and there growing alongside the trail was PLANTAIN, all over the place.

My husband and I grabbed some plantain and we started mashing it between two rocks to make a poultice. The boy took his shirt off and we dabbed it all over him. He did not swell and did great. This was a teaching moment for the youth there. The plants that God created do have a purpose. I don’t think it was a coincidence that day for us to be right there where plantain was growing, and for someone there to know what to do with it.

fomentation

A fomentation is similar to a poultice, however you use a concentrated tea of the herb instead of the plant itself. To apply a fomentation you soak a clean cotton cloth in the concentrated tea and apply it to the wound and wrap with cellophane.

how to use plantain internally

tea

You can make an herbal tea by placing one teaspoon of dried herb to one cup water. Pour boiling water over the herb, cover tightly and steep for 20 minutes and strain. I love this single serve tea maker!  We use it all the time, in fact, we each have our own.

tea maker

This is a good resource for dried plantain. This is what I use for teas and to make salve.

tincture

Tinctures are herbal concentrate most often prepared in an alcohol, glycerin or vinegar base. You can make them, but it is much easier just to buy them.


I absolutely love, love, love this reference book on herbs. This author explains all the basic on herbs, herbal preparations and uses in a clear, easy to follow way.


If you would like more details of ALL the benefits of this plant, I will refer you to Dr. Christopher’s website that is chuck full of herbal information.

Are there any potential Side Effects of Plantain?

Plantain is considered a very safe herb to use, therefore you can use it both externally and internally.

Women who are breastfeeding or pregnant should avoid using plantain until research confirms that the herb is not harmful in any way.

So there you have it, an herbal remedy that is probably growing right under your feet. Go take a look around your yard or at the park and see if you can find any.

Alternative Remedy Handbook

For a quick, go-to reference of other tried and tested herbal remedies, I have compiled a booklet with lots of great resources and information. It’s kinda nice to know that you can alleviate everyday complaints without always turning to your medicine chest, or to your doctor. I have it for sale here on my site.

Let me know if you have any questions.

plantain pin
Jan Howell

Jan Howell

My intention for this website is to share tips and tutorials that I have found on my journey of life that has brought me joy, improved health, and peace, in hopes that it will do the same for you. I hope you'll join me on this journey!

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PEPPERMINT: How To Grow, Use and Enjoy

peppermint tub youmakeitsimple.com

How To Grow

Peppermint is very easy to grow.  In fact, it grows so aggressively that most garden books advise you to enclose the roots of peppermint in a pot to prevent it from taking over your garden bed. I have mine planted in an old fashioned tin bath tub.

Peppermint is part of the mint family, in which there are many varieties. It will hybridize easily. So if you grow several mint plants side by side, over time their flavors will mingle and they will lose their distinctive tastes. Chocolate mint, pear mint, spearmint, and even apple mint varieties are available.

Peppermint is easy to find in most plant nurseries and even in common variety stores where plants are sold. Herbs seem to sell out quickly in the spring, so don’t hesitate in purchasing early. It is easier to grow from a start or cutting than to grow by seed. If you know someone with a peppermint plant, you can take a cutting or divide the plant to start you own patch.

Peppermint likes water, so plant it where you will remember to water it. It will begin to droop if it becomes thirsty. To keep the plant growing all summer, keep it trimmed. This will inhibit the plant from forming blossoms. Once it forms flowers, the plant will slow down. You may have to do this once a week or so.

Divide already established plants in spring or fall, or take cuttings during the growing season and root them in water.

Peppermint roots easily from cuttings. Take a 4 inch cutting and strip the last inch of its leaves. Soak it overnight in water and then just place it in a growing medium. It will root in two weeks and start sending up new growth.

How To Harvest

  • Cut: If you are going to use the peppermint for teas or other uses, you will want to cut down before it flowers. Cut the stems down to 4-5 inches from the ground. Don’t worry, it will grow back very quickly.
  • Wash: Run the stems under running water to remove any dust or dirt.
  • Dry: Take the stems and either place them in a dehydrator, tie with twine and hang to dry, or if you live in a hot, dry climate like I do, you can simply lay them on the counter top or table for a few days.
  • Strip leaves: To remove the dried leaves from the center stem, pull your fingers from the top of the stem down. Do this over a big bowl. Your house is going to smell fabulous! By storing the leaves whole and crushing them right before use, you retain the volatile oils in the leaves, until you need them.
  • Store: Store the dried herb in glass mason jars with a tight fitting lid. It will stay strong and fragrant for at least a year if protected from heat, light, air, and moisture.

How To Use

What do you do with it? Peppermint has many benefits, whether you use it fresh, dried or as an essential oil.

  • Analgesic
  • Anti-parasitic
  • Antiseptic
  • Digestive
  • Expectorant
  • Insecticidal
  • Sedative
  • Stimulant
  • Stomachic
  • Vasoconstrictor

Peppermint is most famed for its use in relieving stomach problems. Peppermint can help disorders of the digestive system including gas, bloating, nausea, indigestion and cramps.

peppermint

One of my favorite ways to use dried peppermint is to make an infusion, a TEA. It can be very soothing to the stomach, give you a little energy boost, (without the caffeine) and add flavor to other teas that are not so tasty. I usually throw a little peppermint in with my yarrow tea to make it more palatable.

To make a tea:

  1. Add 1-2 teaspoons of dried herb to your mug. You can use a teabag, a tea straw, or I LOVE my Aberdeen PERFECT TEA MAKER.
    This makes steeping a mug of tea a SNAP! Everyone in my family has their own.
  2. Pour boiling water over the tea, cover and infuse for 1- 3 minutes. Covering the tea while steeping will keep the delicate oils from evaporating.
  3.  Enjoy!

Another way to get the benefits of peppermint is to use the essential oil.

  • Use a drop of Peppermint essential oil in water for a healthy, refreshing mouth rinse.
  • Take one to two drops in a Veggie Capsule to alleviate occasional stomach upset.
  • Add two to three drops to your favorite smoothie recipe for a refreshing twist.
  • Place one drop in the palm of your hand and inhale for a mid-day pick-me-up.
  • Add a sprig of peppermint to desserts, smoothies, or drinks as a garnish.

If you don’t have a patch or bucket of peppermint growing in your garden yet, I hope you will. Not only is it useful, smells, divine, but it is also a beautiful addition to any garden.

What is your favorite way to use peppermint?

jan3