I think plantain needs to be included in my “herb of the month subscription”. This June I have needed it in some form for 1)a burn 2) a bug bite that looked a bit red 3)and a broken toe. I have it as an ingredient in many of my salves and liniments. I ordered three of the large leaf variety to plant in the garden last fall. They made it through the winter and look gorgeous this summer. I hope that if I cut off the spikes before they flower, I can prevent them from becoming invasive and spreading. Three plants seem to be plenty for what I need at the moment. We think of plantain as being useful externally but it has historical use in tinctures for many internal conditions as well.

Plantago is a perennial characterized by a basal rosette of several leaves with ribbed/parallel venation. Each terminates in a thick channeled stalk where they attach to a round stem. Leaves can be broad/ovate or narrow/lance shaped. Sometimes margins are toothed. A single, dense ,cylinder shaped, cluster/spike, of greenish white tiny flowers grows on a tall (6-18 inch) erect stem . These have brown sepals and bracts. Plantain is found along paths and roadsides, in meadows and lawns or in wastelands. If cultivating this plant, it likes sun or partial shade but really prefers a moist soil.

Plantago should be your top choice for a first aid remedy. Externally plantain is thought to be helpful for broken bones, wounds, burns, bruises, injuries, boils, acne, shingles, sunburn, eczema fungal infections, sore feet, and plantar fasciitis, . It can draw venom, poison, dirt, splinters, pus, and infection out of insect stings, animal bites, or wounds. It relieves irritation and pain when one has been exposed to irritating plants like nettles or poison ivy. Like nettle is supports the body to release antihistamine for relief when suffering from allergies, hayfever, and asthma. Historically this herb has been used to treat ulcers, bronchitis, coughs, sore throats, lung damage, inflammation in the digestive tract, irritated tissues/organs, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, toothache, fever, mastitis, earache, sore throat, urinary tract infections and internal bleeding. It is known to clear heat and inflammation. The seeds are edible and have been used to make flour or as a thickener. They are also a good source of fiber and may prevent constipation.

Family: Plantaginacea

Parts Used-leaves, seeds, root

Energetics-sweet, salty, bitter, cool, dry


Spiritual and Emotional Uses: Settling a mind that is restless, overactive, irritable or “addicted” to something stimulating.

Contraindications: soak or cook seeds before use.

Published by blackbirdsbackyard

My backyard botanical pharmacy is located in Boulder Colorado. I began studying herbal medicinewhen I was 12 years old. In college I studied subjects like anthropology, microbiology, anatomy and physiology, After graduation I decided to go to midwifery school. I attended births and had a small practice until I retired early in order to be a mother full time. I have always had an herb garden, gathered plants and made my own healing formulas with plants. Over the last 30 years there have been many teachers and I have attended dozens of workshops. I am one of those people who is always reading, studying and learning. In 2019 I was called to practice as an herbalist professionally, using "plant spirit medicine" and bio-energetic ( 5 element)healing techniques. I feel that there is a big need in the community for my skills and talents. I hope to inspire others to start their own backyard pharmacies as a solution to species extinction and the healthcare crisis in America. Healing has also become a spiritual practice and way for me to feel balanced and connected with nature. I consult with clients in person, teach classes (adults and kids), give tours of my garden and offer apprenticeships. Health, joy, meaning, and support are everyone's birthright.

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