While plantain is often a word people know, most people think of the bananas. Plantain is also a leafy green vegetable plant whose leaves look similar to spinach. Plantago officinalis is the most common plantain found in the United States. This plant’s leaves can be eaten just like spinach when they are young and the seeds can be sauteed and eaten as a snack.
Plantain has a long tradition being used as an herbal medicine, mostly because of how accessible it is. It is hard to not find this plant growing on any green area you come across. The most talked about use these days is as a spit poultice. To make a poultice you take 1-2 leaves and chew them in your mouth. Your saliva starts to break down the plant cell walls so that the good parts can come out and your end up swallowing some of the plant matter helping you internally. You remove the plant material from your mouth and apply it to an area of your skin. These poultices are great for cuts and scrapes as a first aid treatment and can also be used on the skin when you are having an allergic reaction to something.
Plantain is also used internally a lot! Allergies is where plantain shines! Taken as a leaf tea, plantain helps to moisten the nasal passages and sooth them when there is allergic irritation. It is also an anti-inflammatory herb through the whole body helping with histamine reactions through the whole body.
The seeds of plantain are cool too. They can help loosen the bowels particularly well in larger doses. They were the original Metamucil, offering high amounts of fiber to your diet.
Want to learn more about plantain? Join our Materia Medica Module 1 Class starting in January 2018. All classes are recorded for future viewing.
Jillian Carnrick, founder and manager of The Dancing Herbalist, has a Masters of Science Degree in Herbal Medicine, practices as a nutritionist, and is a Certified Personal Trainer and Exercise Is Medicine Professional through the American College of Sports Medicine. Join her for live classes and The Dancing Herbalist’s home herbalist courses online for more learning opportunities.