Plantain is considered a common lawn weed. However, it has been used for thousands of years as a medicinal plant (for inflammation, bleeding, and infections) as well as a potherb and salad green. It is also a great addition to the Forest Garden, as it attracts beneficial insects, is a dynamic mineral accumulator, is tolerant of drought and is a great forage crop for animals.
There are many more highly effective constituents in this plant including Ascorbic-acid, Apigenin, Baicalein, Benzoic-acid, Chlorogenic-acid, Citric-acid, Ferulic-acid, Oleanolic-acid, Salicylic-acid, and Ursolic-acid. The leaves and the seed are medicinal used as an antibacterial, antidote, astringent, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antitussive, cardiac, dem anti-toxic, antimicrobial, anti-histamine, stypticulcent, diuretic, expectorant, haemostatic, laxative, ophthalmic, poultice, refrigerant, and vermifuge. Medical evidence exists to confirm uses as an alternative medicine for asthma, emphysema, bladder problems, bronchitis, fever, hypertension, rheumatism and blood sugar control.
Young leaves are edible raw in salad or cooked as a pot herb, they are very rich in vitamin B1 and riboflavin. Often blanched to make more tender. Most often used as flavor/nutrition addition to mixed salads.
Extracts of the plant have antibacterial activity, it is a safe and effective treatment for bleeding, it quickly stops blood flow and encourages the repair of damaged tissue.
The heated leaves are used as a wet dressing for wounds, skin inflammations, malignant ulcers, cuts, stings and swellings and said to promote healing without scars.
Poultice of hot leaves is bound onto cuts and wounds to draw out thorns, splinters and inflammation.
A distilled water made from the plant makes an excellent eye lotion.
Seeds can be eaten raw or cooked or ground as flour addition. Considered a great fiber source, seeds contain up to 30% mucilage which swells in the gut, acting as a bulk laxative and soothing irritated membranes. The seeds are used in the treatment of parasitic worms.
A decoction of the roots is used in the treatment of a wide range of complaints including diarrhoea, dysentery, gastritis, peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, haemorrhage, haemorrhoids, cystitis, bronchitis, catarrh, sinusitis, coughs, asthma and hay fever.
It also causes a natural aversion to tobacco and is currently being used in stop smoking preparations.
“Medicinal” herb tea: For colds and flu use 1 tbls. dry or fresh whole Plantain (seed, root, and leaves) to 1 cup boiling water, steep 10 min. strain, sweeten. Drink through the day.
Healing salve: In large non-metallic pan place 1lb. of entire Plantain plant chopped, and 1 cup lard, cover, cook down on low heat till all is mushy and green. Strain while hot, cool and use for burns, insect bites, rashes, and all sores. Note: used as night cream for wrinkles.
Young shoots: Pan-fry in olive oil for just a few seconds to bring out this taste.
Fresh large plantain leaves (washed and dried)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup water
2 tbsp. wheat germ
2 tbsp. spiked salt (or a variety of spices of your choosing)
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Combine the flour, water, egg, wheat germ and spices into a bowl and mix well. Dip leaves into the batter and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Be sure to not to overlap for best results. Bake 5 -10 minutes if the leaves used are very large. If the plantain leaves are smaller then start watching them at about the 3-4 minute mark to ensure they do not burn. Serve warm or once cooled!
Nutty Plantain Snack Recipe
1 handful of plantain seed
3 handfuls of pumpkin seeds
3 handfuls of sesame seeds
Olive oil (enough to just cover the seeds)
Sea salt to taste
Place seeds into a bowl, add olive oil and salt. Be sure to coat all seeds. Either roast seeds in oven on a baking sheet at 300°F for 10-15 minutes or roast them in a frying pan on the stove.