By Frank Vincentz (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Plantago major-Plantain

Family: Plantaginaceae

Other names: Greater Plantain, Common Plantain, Plantago borysthenica, Plantago dregeana, Plantago latifolia, Plantago sinuata,

Habitat: A common “weed” in Britain and many other parts of the world. Found particularly in lawns. Rarely in grassy places. Native American Indians refer to Plantain Weed as white man’s foot print.

 hazardsmallHigh doses may cause a fall in blood pressure and diarrhoea. Possible allergic contact dermatitis. Avoid in patients with intestinal obstruction or abdominal discomfort.

Plantain is a safe and effective treatment for bleeding, it quickly staunches blood flow and encourages the repair of damaged tissue. Plantain Leaf is astringent, demulcent, deobstruent, depurative, diuretic, expectorant, haemostatic and refrigerant. Internally, they are used in the treatment of a wide range of complaints including diarrhoea, gastritis, peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, haemorrhage, haemorrhoids, cystitis, bronchitis, catarrh, sinusitis, asthma and hay fever. They are used externally in treating skin inflammations, malignant ulcers, cuts, stings etc. The heated leaves are used as a wet dressing for wounds, swellings etc. The root is a remedy for the bite of rattlesnakes, it is used in equal portions with Marrubium vulgare. The seeds are used in the treatment of parasitic worms. Plantain seeds contain up to 30% mucilage which swells up in the gut, acting as a bulk laxative and soothing irritated membranes. Sometimes the seed husks are used without the seeds. A distilled water made from the plant makes an excellent eye lotion.

By H. Zell (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Description of Plantain:

Plantago major, plantain is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 0.1 m (0ft 4in). 
It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to September, and the seeds ripen from Jul to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Wind.The plant is self-fertile. 
It is noted for attracting wildlife. 

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. Needs full sun. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

Cultivation of Plantain:

Succeeds in any moderately fertile soil in a sunny position. Although this species is a common garden weed, some named forms have been selected for their ornamental value. An important food plant for the caterpillars of many species of butterflies

Propagation of Plantain:

Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer. A sowing can be made outdoors in situ in mid to late spring if you have enough seeds.

Collection: Gather during flowering throughout the summer. Dry as fast as possible as the leaves will discolour if dried improperly.

Culinary uses of Plantain:

Edible Parts: Leaves,  Root,  Seed.
Edible Uses: Tea.

Young leaves – raw or cooked. They are rather bitter and tedious to prepare because the fibrous strands need to be removed before use. It is best not to use the leaf-stalk since this is even more fibrous than the leaf. Many people blanch the leaves in boiling water before using them in salads in order to make them more tender. A Chinese form has more palatable leaves – it contains about 2.7% protein, 0.4% fat, 2.2% ash. Seed – raw or cooked. Very tedious to harvest. The seed can be ground into a meal and mixed with flour. It is very rich in vitamin B1. The whole seeds can be boiled and used like sago. The dried leaves make an acceptable tea. 

Plantago_Major_botanicalMedicinal uses of Plantain:

Actions: Vulnerary, expectorant, demulcent, anti-inflammatory,astringent, diuretic, anti-microbial

Part Used: Leaves or aerial parts

Indications: Both the Greater Plantain and its close relative Ribwort Plantain have valuable healing properties. It acts as a gentle expectorant whilst also soothing inflamed and sore membranes, making it ideal for coughs and mild bronchitis. Its astringency aids in diarrhoeahaemorrhoids and also in cystitis where there is bleeding.

Ellingwood describes Plantain thus: “The remedy is of value in the internal treatment of all diseases of the blood. Scrofula, syphilis, specific or non-specific glandular disease and mercurial poisoning. It is used in ulcerations of the mucous membrane, due to depraved conditions. It may be given in diarrhoea,dysentery, the diarrhoea of consumption, cholera infantum, and where there are longstanding hemorrhoids. It is also given in female disorders, attended with fluent discharges and in hematuria, also in dysuria and some forms of passive hemorrhage. It would thus seem to possess marked astringent properties, as well as those of an alterative character. “The older physicians ascribe an active influence to it, in the cureo f the bites of venomous serpents, spiders and poisonous insects. A simple but important influence is that exercised in tooth-ache. The juice on apiece of cotton applied to a tooth cavity, or to the sensitive pulp, has immediately controlled intractable cases of toothache. It seems to exercise asedative influence upon pain in the nerves of the face, and relieves many cases of earache and tic-douloureux. In the nocturnal incontinence of urine, in young children, accompanied with a large flow of colorless urine,this agent has produced curative results in many cases.

Plantago relieves inflammatory infection of the skin, especially if accompanied with burning pain or itching. Inflammation of the intestinal tract which involves the mucous membranes and is accompanied with colicky pains will be relieved by Plantago. Old Dr. Smith from southern Illinois applied Plantago in the form of a saturated tincture as a dressing for fresh cutswounds, or bruises. He could thus secure healing without the formation of pus. He made his tincture of the entire plant and roots, pounded up in alcohol. He applied one part usually to four of water.

Dr. Wallace dips a teaspoon in to hot water, drops into this five drops of the specific plantago and pours this into the ear for earache, filling the ear afterwards with cotton. He claims immediate relief in aggravated cases.Externally the bruised leaves have been applied in the form of a poultice, to chronic ulcers, and skin disorders, resulting from depraved blood. The juice may be combined in the form of an ointment. One physician told the writer that he saw an Indian woman pound up a large quantity of Plantain leaves, put them into a skillet, and pour on enough lard to cover. This was boiled for sometime, then strained. When cool, the product was a smooth, greenish colored ointment. With this a chronic and previously absolutely intractable skin disease, similar to a dry form of eczema, was rapidly and permanently cured.This ointment in appearance and action closely resembles the proprietary preparation, known as cuticura.”

He recommends it for the following patholgies: scrophula, syphilisglandular diseasemercurial poisoning,diarrhoeadysentaryhaemorrhoidsfemale disordershaematuriadysuriahaemorrhagebites of venemous serpentstooth-acheear-ache,tic-douloureuxnocturnal incontinance of urine,inflammatory infection of the skinchronic ulcers,skin disorders.

Preparations & Dosage:

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 2 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.

Ointment: an ointment can be made that will aid the treatment of haemorrhoids and cuts.

Tincture: take 2-3 ml of the tincture three times a day.

Other uses of Plantain:
Esoteric uses of Plantain:

Protection from evil spirits and snake bites, removing weariness, healing headaches; house & business blessing. Place a pinch of dried leaves in the flame of a candle or throw into an East wind for healing. Hang plantain leaves in the car for protection from evil and jealousy.

The Chemistry:


* Iridoids; aucubin, 3,4-dihydroaucubin,6′-O-[[beta]]-glucosylaucubin, catalpol

* Flavonoids; apigenin, lutelin, scutellarin, baicalein, nepetin, hispidulin, plantagoside

* Miscellaneous; tannin, oleanolic acid, plant acids such as chlorogenic, neochlorogenic, fumaric, hydroxycinnamic and benzoic acids and their esters.


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