Plantain: Not Your Average Weed

Plantain1Plantain (Plantago major, also known as broadleaf plantain, white man’s foot, or greater plantain) is a perennial plant that most people think of as a weed. But in fact, plantain is one of the oldest, most trusted medicinal plants on the planet. This plant originated in Europe and central Asia, but is now found all over the globe. Since it was spread by humans from Europe to the rest of the world, the Indians named it ‘White man’s footprint.’ This nickname is reflected in the official scientific naming of the plant– the genus name Plantago (from the Latin planta,) meaning sole of the foot.

History

PlantagoMajorThe use of plantain as a wound healer was first described by the Greek physician Diocorides in the first century. Throughout history, we find written evidence about the use of plantain in healing wounds and skin infections. From the Vikings to even Shakespeare, we find many mentions of the medicinal use of plantain!

Romeo: Your plantain leaf is excellent for that.

Benvoleo: For what, I pray thee?

Romeo: For your broken shin.

                                -from Romeo and Juliet

 

Medicinal Properties

Although history has taught us much about the medicinal properties of plantain, scientific and clinical studies have verified the wound healing properties of this plant as well. In fact, research for other medicinal uses is currently underway.

It is known that a poultice of the leaves can be applied to wounds and sores to facilitate healing and prevent infection. The active chemical components are aucubin, allantoin and mucilage (a thick, gooey substance that reduces pain.) The naturally-occurring alcohols contained in the waxy leaves have been shown to facilitate wound healing as well. Interestingly, plantain is also edible and nutritious, being high in calcium and vitamins A, C and K! A tea made from the leaves can even be ingested to treat diarrhea and stomach upset.

aucubin-an antimicrobial molecule

Aucubin.svg

allantoin-a cell regeneration molecule

Allantoin.svg

 

 

Due to these remarkable medicinal properties, Wild Earth Apothecary uses plantain as an ingredient in their best-selling healing salve. Experience the time-tested healing power of plantain yourself this summer—from bug bits to sunburns, Wild Earth healing salve has you covered!

Purchase Wild Earth healing salve by visiting the Etsy shop: Wild Earth Apothecary

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Article written by Lauren Beihoffer, a biochemist and lover of natural, holistic skin care.

 

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