Posted by Bonnie Rogers on 8/1/2014 to Herbal Medicine
Did you know that in most cases, first aid is right outside your door? My first line of defense for cuts, bruises, itching, and bites is an herb called Plantain. Plantain for many of you is called a “weed”. I consider it prime medicine.
Plantain is one of the herbs in my top 5 list of mandatory plants to have. This is the plant I teach children about first. Plantain, at least here in the northeast, grows everywhere. If there is a lawn that hasn't been sprayed, most times if you look you'll see plantain growing, especially around the perimeter.
At my home, she lines the driveway and walkway and at times you feel as if your lawn is mainly plantain. For me as long as it’s green I'm fine with it.
When my son was young and we'd go to the soccer field, 9 times out of 10 someone would cut themselves and I'd find some plantain in the lawn and apply it. Plantain is styptic (which means it stops bleeding) as well as helpful in healing cuts and bruises. It is an astringent herb which means it draws the tissues together as well as a drawing things. This is a result of tannins in the plant.
Plantain grows just about everywhere, I've seen it growing in the cracks in the sidewalk in NYC and in fields most places I've gone. Take a look for it later today.
When it comes to bee stings - plantain in magical. I recommend you take a plantain leaf - chew it up as the saliva actually makes it more powerful (or roll it around in your hand to break open the cell wall) place it on the the sting point. Plantain both pulls the venom out of the the skin and tissue and helps to heal the area as well as reducing the pain. Change the poultice every 15 minutes so that you make sure to remove all the toxins from the area and reduce the pain and inflammation.
A friend of mine was at a wedding and was stung on her way into the church. After a little bit the bite didn't hurt anymore so she took the plantain off and just held it, after a few moment she was feeling the venom in the hand she was holding the plantain in. The venom had been taken up by the plant and was seeping back into her body - no good.
Bites from brown recluse spiders have been shown to be healed just using plantain poultices.
If you are itching or trying to heel from a bite, bruise, itchy skin, scratch or more, my first line of defense would be plantain. I've been known to walk outside at night with a flashlight to pick some plantain for an itchy area more than once.
Have a splinter or a shard of glass that just won't come out - pack the area with plantain. Her pulling may just remove your splinter for you and at the same time draw out any infection there may be.
Plantain is a natural antibiotic and anti-inflammatory plant.
You can use it fresh or make it into a preparation for use later.
- Tea – pick some leaves, cut them up and fill your cup with boiling water. Let steep 15 minutes, cool and put in a spray bottle and spray your itchy skin
- Make an oil. Find a glass jar, fill it with plantain leaves cut into small pieces, fill your jar with olive oil. Poke it with a knife or chopstick to remove the air bubbles, place on a plate as when you leave it the oil always seems to seep out all over everything. Top it off with oil at the end of the first week. After 6 weeks strain and you’ll have an amazing oil to use on your skin (great for cracked feet and hemorrhoids)
- Make an alcohol tincture, take 100 proof vodka and follow the directions above for the oil but use the alcohol. It can then be used in a spray bottle as the tea but it will last for quite a long time where the tea is only good for a few hours.
To identify plantain you will notice if you look at the underside of the plant 3, 5 or 7 veins. Images below of the front and back of both varieties that we have around here. I noticed at the park that the broadleaf grew in the dry fields and the narrow leaf near the lake. This is not always the way, but just what I've notice.
There are two varieties that I generally use interchangeably, brothe leaf you will see what looks like veins and if you pull a leaf out from the base you will see a few strands that look like cords, very fibrous and you’ll know you’ve got the correct plant.There are two varieties that I generally use interchangeably, broad leaf plantain and narrow leaf
plantain. You will see here 2 images, one of the narrow leaf and the other of the broad leaf, by looking at the underside of the leaf you will see what looks like veins and if you pull a leaf out from the base you will see a few strands that look like cords, very fibrous and you’ll know you’ve got the correct plant.