Plantain is a wonderful, sturdy, useful herb. It draws, it soothes, it cools, and it's so much fun to teach people about making a 'spit poultice' with it!
Like most of our common weed herbs, Plantain came along with European settlers, and many sources claim a folk name for it is "white man's footstep" since it appeared everywhere settlers did.
I've heard that the seeds, which are much easier to gather from Broad Leaf Plantain, P. major, are high in Vitamin B. I have P. major stalks ripening in my garden now, and I will be adding them to my diet after I've collected some! It is also rich in Iron, so it goes in my 'mineral vinegar' jug. I've also heard that Plantain will balance Kapha dosha.
But what I know, what I've learned and tried and seen, is that Plantain is a super-herb.
Plantain draws. This is powerful medicine. Think about what needs drawing, and you'll see that topical remedies almost always benefit from Plantain. Stingers, thorns, dirt, infections, mucous, most skin eruptions like boils, shingles and herpes, all will see relief. It also soothes and lowers inflammation, so cuts and scrapes, bug bites and stings, ulcers and the digestive tract, dry sinuses and sore throats will also be happier.
These are my notes from my first Plantain tasting, made with well-boiled plant: " dark and earthy- not “green”, mineral tasting, no mucous- clean, wiped everything."
My teacher Maia has said that Plantain has an affinity for warm damp places, like the head, mouth, mucous membranes, and genitals. This makes sense- since these areas readily absorb (think sub-lingual medicines), they can also readily extract or excrete and plantain will draw through them.
Plantain can be found everywhere. Just look at this map- the green indicates where P. major is present. Only the far northern, interior regions of Canada are missing out.
This means that it's simply a matter of identifying and collecting your local Plantain to make a simple preparation.
Teas are good for internal healing, as is a tincture, which can also be used externally. A vinegar tincture will be mineral rich, especially in Iron. Infused oils would be for topical treatments, and a salve or balm or even lotion will make application more even and precise.
But for pure ease of use, an old fashioned "spit poultice" works wonders. You can mash up the leaves with water and apply that to the skin, but an even easier method has been described perfectly by Rosalee de la Foret, in her Healing Herbs e-Book:
-Gather fresh clean Plantain from a clean area
-Place one leaf into your mouth and chew it slightly so that it releases its juices. Chew it into a ball and then spit it out.
-Place the Plantain spit poultice onto the affected area. I like to change the poultice every twenty minutes. If I notice it getting hot I change it sooner.
Really! Chew it up, spit it out, smear it on! And it works. The first time I was stung by Nettles, through the back pocket of my jeans (I was almost backing into her, and she took offense!), my teacher handed me a Plantain leaf and directed me to chew and smear. The sting went away, and as it reappeared I reapplied. After a few 'treatments' I was pain free.
Find your Plantain, nurture it in your flower beds and use this strong medicine to help move and soothe.
Fun Fact: I'm an herbalist and a movement coach. Not a doctor, or a pharmacist, and not pretending to be one on TV.
This is a public space, so my writing reflects my experiences and I try to stay general enough so it might relate to you. This does not constitute medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss concerns with your doctor. Remember, however, that the final say in your wellness decisions are always yours- you have the power to choose, you are the boss of you.
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