Plantain

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Disclaimer: This data is meant for informational purposes only and is not meant to prescribe or treat specific problems. As with any herb or medication, please consult your Doctor of Naturopath or your Medical Doctor before trying anything new.

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"Plantago major"

The parts of this herb used are the leaves and the seeds.

Some of the properties of this herb are: Emollient, Diuretic, alterative, expectorant, & antiseptic.

Useage of this herb affects the veins, intestines & kidneys.

Preparation of this herb is in the forms of: Infusion, Decoction, Gel, Tincture, Fluid Extract, & Powder.

Plantain is used both internally and externally. It is soothing therfore making it a good herb to use for diarrhea, infections, ulcer, & hemorrhoids. It is reputed to be good for treating neuralgia when the tincture form is used.

It is written that Culpepper used the seeds of this herb for treating epilepsy and jaundice.

Plantain is used for treating kidney & bladder infections. The seeds are powdered and one teaspoon is added to juice and drank two to three times a day for a laxative.

A gel is made from the seeds as well and used to treat ulcers.

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An infusion (tea) made with the leaves and injected into the colon a couple of times a day is said to help greatly with hemorrhoids. The tea is also used as a vaginal douche for minor problems.

Externally, freshly ground or chewed leaves can be applied to insect bites. This was also used on snakebites by the Native American Tribes and was nicknames "Snakeweed". A salve is prepared for treating boils, and eczema. For itchy skin, exctract the juice out of fresh leaves and apply to the itchy area for relief.

Other nicknames for this herb are: Broad-Leaves Plantain; Waybread, & White Man's Foot.

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Plantain Salve

4 ounce fresh Plantain Leaves (2 oz. if using dried)
1 Pint of Sweet Almond Oil
1 1/2 ounces of Beeswax, melted
2 Vitamin E capsules

Extract the herb's properties by heating the herb in the oil for about an hour over very low heat. Strain and discard the herb. Add 1 1/2 ounces of melted beeswax and the contents of 2 Vitamin E capsules to the oil and stir as the mixture thickens and cools. Pour into wide mouth salve jars before it sets up too much. (You can always make this a harder salve by adding a bit more beeswax, or a softer salve by lessening the amount of beeswax or adding just a bit more oil).

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Plantain is a perennial "Weed" that has been around for a very long time and as we have already discussed, a lot of beneficial uses. I wanted to explain why it was nicknamed "White Man's Foot". This was because it was believed to follow the white settlers wherever they went. Today, plantain can be found growing wild throughout the U.S. and practically in everyones back yard. Some even find it in their yard in small suburban cities!

Plantain has a rosette of ribbed leaves and its seed stalks somewhat resemble little "cattails". It has always been collected from the wild, because cultivation has never been an issue due to it's abundancy. Most people look at it here at the farm and say "That's an herb? I thought it was a weed!". The problem some people have with it is that it spreads and can take over certain areas. Now me, I just smile and let it grow! :-)

The leaves should be harvested just before the flower stalk begins to mature and then dried in the shade or on screens.

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Here is an herbal soap recipe that I make for some people with problem skin that includes plantain:

3/4 cup of tightly packed fresh plantain leaves
1 large fresh comfrey leaf
1 cups water
2 oz. Lye
8 oz. Crisco Shortening
4 oz. Coconut Oil
4 oz. Olive Oil

Add at trace:
1 Tspn Castor Oil
1 Tspn Tea Tree Essential Oil

Tear the comfrey leaf and the plantain leaves up into pieces and add to blender along with a cup of water. Blend thoroughly. (it will be kind of a thick watery mass).

Pour one cup of this mixture into the container you are going to add your lye to and add the lye, constantly stirring until the lye is dissolved. Put your thermometer in it and while you are waiting for it to cool down, go melt your oils. Mix when temp. of the oils and the lye water are just around 110 degrees.

Prepare from here as you would any other homeade soap, and pour into molds.

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Disposable Plantain Burn Pads

1 roll of gauze
dried plantain leaves, chopped
1 tupperware sandwich container or other tight sealing container.

Carefully unroll a portion of the guaze, usually about 8 inches long, and unfold the sides. Sprinkle plantain leaf over center of guaze until completely coated in the middle 4 or 5 inches. (This leaves the ends free for tying or taping). Fold guaze sides back over to cover the plantain and fold neatly and place in container.

Make as many as you want to keep around.

TO USE:
Bring water to a boil and shut off heat. Immerse one guaze strip in the water until the plantain is well moistened and the water turns into an infusion. Remove strip and let cool before placing over the area you wish to treat. (If treating a burn, be sure it is cool!)

We keep these on hand around the farm thru the winter months when fresh plantain is not available.

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Marcia Wilson
Journeywoman Herbalist
The Allways Natural Herb Farm
10/21/98

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© 1998- Linda Coffin

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