Plantain, the amazing herb/weed growing in your yard!
Plantain is a weed to most people: It is common in most yards & can be used in your natural medicine cabinet, & this post will discuss some of the many ways to use plantain.
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-Make sure to check out my second blog post on Plantain – A DIY Life: Picking Plantain – Part 2 Harvesting Psyllium
Check out The Homestead Survival website here, they shared this post on Plantain.
Not a fruit plant: The plant I am referring to in this blog is not the banana fruit like plantains & not the fruit plantains leaves either. The plantain I am referring to is a green plant that grows in your yard with green leaves, many refer to it as a common weed, so now I hope we have that straight. Check out the 2 photos to help you & say it again, the plantain in this post is not a fruit but is a weed in your yard, & now we can proceed.
The plantain weed: Commonly known as broadleaf plantain, is actually a perennial herb that provides us with many medicinal and culinary uses, even though it’s a widely despised lawn weed.
This perennial weed is commonly found in our lawns here in North America, as well as in fields, meadows, and waste lands. While it grows best in rich soil, it will survive very well in poor soil, producing smaller plants.
If left undisturbed, the entire plant can get as large as 12 inches across, with seed stalks as high as 1 1/2 to 2 feet tall.
It’s a smooth stemmed, stiff plant, that usually grows from 6 to 18 inches high. It has dark green, toothed, rosette leaves that grow close to the ground, with greenish-white or purplish-brown cylindrical spiked flowers.
The plantain weed, much like the dandelion, is a typical lawn weed. It gets noticed when the seed spikes rise above the lawn in late summer. (article here)
Harvesting: Gather young edible Broadleaf Plantain leaves in spring. Gather Plantain after flower spike forms, dry for later herb use.
Edible: The young leaves of the Broadleaf Plantain plant are edible as a raw salad or cooked as spinach. (info here)
This is a must have weed to add to your natural medicine cabinet
You might just go from hating this weed in your yard, to it being a gotta have plant in your yard.
It is time to fall in love with Plantain!
Lets get picking: After you finish reading all plantain can do you might find yourself out in the yard picking plantain leaves just like you would pick greens in your garden. You will be picking, chopping & mixing till your heart’s content, & who cares if the neighbors see & that they think “there you go again being all sorts of crazy”. But you know in the end that you are just crazy for a natural & frugal life. So get your crazy hat or bucket or whatever on & start picking with me.
Why you want Plantain: Here are just some of many natural ways to use plantain as medicine, it makes a great addition to DIY skin creams/salves. Plantain soothes & cools & heals burns/sunburns. Plantain draws out the toxins & the stingers from bug bites, bee, wasp & hornet stings & relieves the swelling & pain. Plantain is great for so many skin issues like eczema, impetigo, rashes & reactions to poison ivy/oak. Plantain is also great as an astringent for your face. It is a great addition to your nopoo routine to help heal dandruff & other scalp issues. Plantain contains natural allantoin a phytochemical, & allantoin produces its desirable effects by promoting healthy skin, stimulates new skin cells & healthy tissue growth. Plantain is an anti-inflammatory that kills germs & speeds wound healing. Plantain is great used on adults & children. And the kids can help you pick them & prepare them too (ideas below).
Plantain is usually Broad-leafed is also called Ribwort, Plantago lanceolata, or Rat-tail Plantain.
Weed or just wild, whatever you decide it is still an amazing plant. You gotta love walking out in your yard & picking your own wild salad (go here for info). Plantain can be eaten raw or cooked & used almost anywhere you would use lettuce or greens. Great in salads, salsa, pesto, smoothies, juicing, & vegetarian meals, just use your imagination. Plantain makes a great wild picked substitution for so many dishes & it just happens to be a weed growing in most everyone’s yard.
Weed definition: A plant considered undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome, especially one growing where it is not wanted, as in a garden.
Wild definition: adj. wild·er, wild·est. 1. Occurring, growing, or living in a natural state; not domesticated, cultivated, or tamed: wild geese; edible wild plants.
Plantain: is very high in beta carotene (A) and calcium. It also provides ascorbic acid (C), and vitamin K. Among the more notable chemicals found in plantain are allantion, apigenin, aucubin, baicalein, linoleic acid, oleanolic acid, sorbitol, and tannin. Together these constituents are thought to give plantain mild anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antihemorrhagic, and expectorant actions. Acubin has been reported in the Journal Of Toxicology as a powerful anti-toxin. Allantoin has been proved to promote wound healing, speed up cell regeneration, and have skin-softening effects. (article here, All about Plantain Herb).
In herbal medicine: plantain is known as a “drawing herb” meaning it has a power to pull out toxins, infections and foreign substances from the body. This makes a plantain poultice an excellent remedy for insect bites and stings, splinters, boils, cuts and scrapes, burns and even toothaches. (article & videos “Uses for Plantain Weed” here)
Wild Food: Opinions vary on the palatability of plantain leaves. Steve Brill, a veteran harvester of wild foods, finds the young leaves “tasty” in salads and good source of calcium, minerals and beta carotene. The alternative crop organization Plants For A Future begs to differ, calling the leaves “rather bitter and tedious to prepare.” Those eager to try the wild food may prefer to glean its nutritional benefits as an infused tea. Brill suggests using the leaves in a vegetarian soup stock. (info here)
The idea that this plant which grows in every sidewalk crack can save a life is something that deeply impresses children I have taught and changes their relationship to plants in general. With its vibrant green leaves, vertical ribs and basal rosette, the plant is easy to identify. It ranges in size from an inch or two long to the size of a medium hosta. (In fact I have a border of plantains in the garden bordering my hostas- the poor man’s hosta!)
Plantain is cool, moist and has a mineral salt taste. It is a yin tonic that heals mucosal tissue. It especially is good for inflammation and ulceration the GI and genitourinary tract. It contains antibacterial baicalein and scutellarin, common to the anti-infective Chinese scutellaria plant. It also contains allantoin which we also find in comfrey root. It is high in flavanoids, tannins, and antioxidants. Plantain leaf is demulcent, emollient, mildly diuretic, styptic and vulnerary. (article here)
Also called “white man’s foot” because it arrived in the Americas with the Europeans. This little plant is edible but can be tough. This is a great late spring green that tastes hearty and satisfying. Pick them early and slice across the strings. The flavor is mild and rich. You can also use the seeds (borne on tall thin spikes) as a flour, for roasting. You can even take a spoonful or two for regularity. The psyllium used in laxatives is made of the seeds of a plantain. If you’ve got a bite, wound or skin irritation, chew or crush the leaves and apply to the area. You might be surprised. (here)
Pick some, & then go pick some more!
The first thing to do is to determine if you have wild plantain to pick in your yard or near by, it is best to not pick plantain from the sides of the roads as these will be full of dust, dirt, toxins & other yuck. To see what broad leaf plantain looks like check out my pictures since that is the variety I have in my yard (More info, some recipes & pictures here & here ).
Pick them: Take a bowl or clean bucket or a cloth bag with you to pick plantain so you can pick plenty, the leaves seem to snap off just fine for me with just picking with my hands. I try not to get to many long stems on them, the new tender stems I do not mind though. I tend to pick the newer leaves as well for eating & use the older ones for my natural remedies. Make sure the plantain you are picking has not been sprayed with pesticides or chemicals.
Wash them: No matter what way you are going to use the plantain greens the first order of business is washing them. Most websites state to just swish in cool water, but I know we have cats & dogs & our chickens love eating the plantain so they have been all in them & well you know. So I prefer to wash them with my normal DIY produce washes to remove germs & bacteria & any toxins that may have gotten on them.
A great basic wash: Add your plantain leaves to a bowl or the sink, add enough cool water to get all leaves wet & be able to swish them, add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar. swish the leaves with your hand & let sit about 10 minutes swishing them another time or 2, then simply drain them & rinse if desired. or instead of ACV you could add a couple tbsp. of baking soda &/or salt.
Cut them: For almost every way you are going to use plantain cutting them seems to work best, what I do is (Step 1) stack about 6 to 8 leaves while they are still wet, the wetness makes them stick together well, (Step 2) then roll them up into a log, cut off any extra stems & (Step 3) then cut into chunks/strips with a knife (pictures below) I find cutting them works best for salads & cooking along with making the natural remedies.
Lets get DIY with Plantain!
In most cases the infused vinegar & the infused oil can be used the same ways, so can chewing it, the whip, sludge, infused water, healing salve & tincture, it all pretty much depends on your personal preferences. And in most cases essential oils can be added if desired.
Chew: It is said the one of the best ways to use plantain for bites, stings, wounds & burns is to put a leaf in your moth & chew it to mush & apply. So if you are outside & get stung you have a fast way for relief. For a great blog post on using plantain for a “Quick Herbal Bug Bite Salve” go here.
Plantain infused vinegar: Use any size jar with a sealing lid, I used a pickle jar & a Cafix coffee substitute jar. Fill the jar 1/2 full with your cut plantain leaves, then fill the rest of the jar with apple cider vinegar. Using ACV is best because this vinegar will be used on your body. Screw the lid on & shake the jar, sit in a room temp cupboard or by a window, shake the jar every day or 2, takes about 2 to 3 weeks to be done, so adding the starting dates to the jar would be good. When it is ready simply strain out the leaves, & label your vinegar. The vinegar should last a long time. (✿◕ ‿ ◕✿Do not throw the leaves away that you strained out, there is a use for them too, see “Plantain Sludge” below).
Uses for the vinegar:
- Mix 50/50 in warm water as a conditioner for your hair (nopoo).
- Add to misting spray bottle & use to spray bites, stings, cuts, burns & sunburns. Would also be great as a spray underarm deodorant.
- Use as a face wash, face spray, astringent etc in your DIY beauty routine.
- Spray on skin conditions
- Add to your bath water & soak for sunburns, bites & stings.
- Mix with Clay powder or baking soda & make a face mask.
- Make into a poultice with bread or baking soda
- Add to warm water for a foot soak to relive blisters & athletes foot.
- Can also be used as a surface cleaner
Plantain infused oil: The oil is made the same way as the vinegar, follow the steps above, but instead of vinegar add oil like olive oil, sweet almond oil etc. But with oil you want to sit the jar in a sunny window if at all possible, shake one a day & it will be ready in about 4 to 6 weeks. Strain your leaves & label the oil. This oil should last around a year.(✿◕ ‿ ◕✿Do not throw the leaves away that you strained out, there is a use for them too, see “Plantain Sludge” below).
Uses for the oil:
- mix it with raw coconut oil & whip it into body butter, use for skin care, puffy under eyes, bits & stings, as a pre conditioner for hair. Rub on sunburns, use as a foot or back massage lotion. Use as underarm deodorant.
- Use as face moisturizer & for skin conditions
- A face mask with clay powder
- A poultice with baking soda.
- I read one post for using this in oil pulling, so you might want to research that.
Plantain infused water: Use your cut up fresh plantain, add 1 part plantain to 2 parts boiling water in a heat-resistant bowl or pot, stir, cover & let steep until cooled. Strain out the plantain leaves. Add water to labeled jar & add to the fridge. Stays good about 2 weeks, add 1 tbsp. of colloidal silver to extend its shelf life. Great to spray on skin, for rashes, sunburns, burns, for hair, scalp, face etc. Can also be drank as a tonic for illness & general health. (✿◕ ‿ ◕✿Do not throw the leaves away that you strained out, there is a use for them too, see “Plantain Sludge” below).
✿◕ ‿ ◕✿
Lets call it “Plantain Sludge”: As I said above do not throw away the plantain that you strain out of the vinegar &/or oil, instead save it, add it to the blender with a little liquid if desired, like colloidal silver, distilled water, olive oil, vinegar or witch hazel. puree the leaves & liquid, add to a jar with a seal tight lid, label it & sit in the fridge. use it in DIY beauty recipes, on sunburns, in foot baths, on bug bites & stings, on skin issues, as a face mask etc. It will stay good a few weeks in the refrigerator or you can freeze it in ice cube trays then add to a zip lock bag in the freezer for it to last a lot longer.
Coconut oil whip with “Plantain Sludge”: Add 3 to 4 tbsp. of “Plantain Sludge” & 1 to 20 tbsp. of olive oil to 1 cup of raw coconut oil, whip it by hand, with a hand mixer, with a blender or food processor, Use this whip on skin, skin issues, as a hair mask pre conditioner, on dandruff, on skin issues, bug bites & stings, poison ivy, rashes, acne, impetigo, dry skin, oily skin, scars etc.
Healing salve: In large non-metallic pan place one pound of cut up fresh plantain leaves, 1 cup of olive oil, raw coconut oil or pure lard. Put lid on the pot, cook on low. Cook until all the leaves are mush & the oil has turned green. strain before oil cools too much. Sore in airtight container. Use on bug bites/stings, rashes & other skin conditions, wounds & sores, sunburns & burns, moisturizing cream, night/wrinkle cream & as a chest rub. Optional: add essential oils after cooled.
Plantain Tincture: Fill a jar with cut up fresh plantain leaves, leaving about 1 inch at the top. Completely fill the jar with brandy or 100 proof vodka. Put the lid on & shake. Label & date & put in a dark cupboard for 6 weeks shaking every few days. This is a medicine with the power of plantain, & it can last for 2 to 3 years. Safe for internal & external use. Directions for use: 10 drops added under your tongue & held there 20 to 45 seconds, then swish in mouth & swallow, or you could add it to a glass of pure water & sip making sure to swish around in mouth before swallowing. Aids in: drawing out toxins, infections, phlegm & mucus out of the mouth, sinuses & body. Another tincture: You can make a similar tincture using rubbing alcohol, but it can only be used for external use.
Create a Natural Herbal First Aid Kit With Wild Plantain: Go here for info
Herb to Know Plantain: Learn all about the history and uses of plantain, one of the most widespread wild herbs in the world here.
As I said earlier you can use plantain leaves/greens in salads, in juicing & so many other ways. I will share a few ways I made it & it was yummy.
Pan fried green n onions: I added olive oil & raw coconut oil to my pan & heated it to med/high, then I added 1 med sized diced onion & cooked till translucent, then I added a bit more olive oil, to this I added fresh picked, washed greens, Turnips & Spinach & the Plantain (if I had any Kale I would have added it to). Then I cooked until desired tenderness & add a couple caps of Bragg Vinegar & a pinch of natural unrefined salt & a pinch of course black pepper, & served with baked chicken, broccoli, & rice. Everyone loved them, I am thinking adding some spicy peppers would be even better. & it was a fast easy side to make.
Salad: Great mixed into salad, cut into strips like above, & toss in with other salad items.
Plantain tea: Bring 2 cups of water to a boil & add 2 tbsp. of the cut up fresh plantain leaves, cover & let steep for 5 minutes them sweeten with raw honey if desired. Used for coughs & colds, flu, allergies, congestion, bronchitis & asthma. Drink through the day, by sipping.
Go check out Part two of this blog post: A DIY Life: Picking Plantain – Part 2 Harvesting Psyllium
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