Those Medicinal Weeds: Plantain {Plantago major}

Also, Known As:

  • Plantain
  • Ribwort
  • Snakeweed

When we talk about plantain, normally the image of a banana plantation conjures up in our mind. But the common plantain is a small wild plant with leaves that grow mostly from the plant’s bottom. It is found growing naturally in the lawns, gardens, backyards and along the roads throughout America. The plantain is a tough and perennial plant and similar to the dandelion (a weed with brilliant yellow flowers on unfilled stems bearing fluffy white seed heads) need to be pulled out along with the roots once it is securely set up in the yard. The leaves of the common plantain are generally ovate or egg-shaped and are found complete or jagged. The leaves are distinguished by their chunky and conduit foot-stalk. The flower stems of the common plantain grow up to a height of seven to twenty inches and are inclined with long and slim barbs of greenish-white flowers. The flowers’ colors are, however, eclipsed by the brown colored sepals and bracts.

Among its many qualities, the common plantain is popular as a healer of wounds and injuries as well as a remedy for most poisons. In addition, the herb is known as a ‘body purifier’ and cleans the system of heat, congestion as well as all toxic elements. In addition, the common plantation is effectual in treating ailments such as fevers, infections, and skin diseases. The herb’s mucilage or the gum-like sap released by the plant offers comfort in case of physical disorders, particularly in the respiratory, digestive and the urinary systems. In addition, the herb is useful in safeguarding the mucous coatings from inflammation and, at the same time, calms down muscle contractions in conditions such as asthma and colic or stomach aches. The herb is also useful in comforting cough impulse, alleviating ruthless, and panicky coughs. Tannins present in the common plantain are astringent (a substance that brings tissues closer) in nature and this explains the herb’s conventional use for tuberculosis, hemorrhage in the stomach and bowels, blood vomiting, diarrhea, and colitis or inflammation of the colon. The herb is also used to cure excessive menstrual bleeding.

The common plantain normally discourages the discharge of mucous, especially in the respiratory system. This property of the herb is useful in treating colds, catarrh or running nose, bronchial congestion and allergic conditions like hay fever (irritation caused by an allergy to pollens) as well as asthma. The expectorant (forcing the coughing up of thick mucous) action of the herb helps to clear a cough from the chest while it can also be used to treat congestion of mucous in the middle of the ear, glue ear and infections of the ear. The anti-bacterial action of the common plantain adds to its fame as a remedy for respiratory disorders like colds, sore throats, tonsillitis and all types of contagions of the chest. The common plantain is also useful in clearing stomach and bowel infections as well as urinary infections, cystitis, prostatitis as well as urethritis or infection of the urethra. Simultaneously, the herb also helps in alleviating the pains and exasperation owing to colic. In addition, the common plantain is known to be an effectual medication for prostatic swellings.

Plant Parts Used:

Leaves, seeds.

Medicinal, Herbal Care For You:

The common plantain has multiple medicinal uses and is highly valued by most herbal practitioners. In the case of any injury, the herb is able to instantly check the flow of blood and also restore the smashed tissues. According to many herbal practitioners, the common plantain may be used as a substitute for comfrey to effectively treat bruises and broken bones. Ointments or lotions prepared with the common plantain leaves may be used to cure hemorrhoids, fistulae or anomalous channels in the skin as well as ulcers. When used internally, the herb acts as a diuretic increasing the outflow of urine, expectorant (a medication to treat coughs) as well as a decongestant (a medicine that clears blocked nose). Herbal practitioners recommend the common plantain to treat conditions such as gastritis, peptic ulcers, diarrhea, dysentery, irritable bowel syndrome, congestion of the respiratory tract, loss of voice as well as bleeding in the urinary tract.

The Habitat of Plantain:

The common plantain is indigenous to Europe as well as the entire temperate climate zone in Asia. The common plantain is hardly cultivated commercially anywhere but mostly harvested from the wild. The leaves of the common plantain are normally collected all through the summer.


Common plantain contains iridoids (such as aucubin, also found in Euphrasia species), flavonoids (including apigenin), tannins, plant acids, and mucilage. Aucubin increases uric acid excretion by the kidneys; apigenin is anti-inflammatory.



The common plantain has numerous applications and both the leaves, as well as the seeds of the plant, are used to treat a number of conditions. While the plant’s leaves can be taken as a juice, tincture, and syrup, infusion prepared with the common plantain’s seeds are also very useful in treating various disorders. Externally, the herb’s leaves may be applied as a poultice, ointment or cream, wash, and gargle.

Aerial parts/leaves:
JUICE: Common plantain juice may be prepared by pressing fresh leaves of the plant. Consuming 10 ml of the juice thrice every day is beneficial for inflamed mucous membranes in cystitis, diarrhea, and infections of the lungs or respiratory tract.

TINCTURE (P. lanceolata): Tinctures of the common plantain should be preferably prepared with fresh leaves. This tincture is beneficial for heavy mucus, allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane) and whenever required for astringency (drawing tissues closer).

POULTICE: Soak a pad in common plantain tincture and apply it on the body areas to heal bee-stings or wounds that have been slow in healing. Applying fresh common plantain leaves will also have the same function as poultice prepared from the herb.

OINTMENT (P. major): Ointments or creams prepared with the leaves of the common plantain may be applied to heal wounds and burns or stem hemorrhoids.

WASH: The juice extracted from the common plantain herb leaves may be used as a wash for relief from inflammations, sores as well as injuries.

GARGLE: Dilute the juice extracted from the common plantain leaves and use as a gargle to alleviate sore or aching throats and mouths or even swelling of the gums.

SYRUP: Make a syrup from the juice extracted from the common plantain leaves and ingest it to treat coughs. It is especially effectual in conditions like sore or inflamed throats.

INFUSION: To prepare an infusion with the common plantain seeds, add one teaspoonful of the dehydrated seed to a cup of boiling water. Then cool the substance and drink the mucilage as well as the seeds at night to treat constipation effectively.

Revitalizing Green Juice:

  • 3 cups (180 g) fresh plantain leaves
  • 1 cups (250 ml) pure liquid honey
  • 1 opaque glass bottle

Crush the leaves in a food processor, drain and squeeze in cheesecloth. Combine 1 cup (250 ml) of the green juice with the honey and simmer for 10 minutes at low heat, stirring regularly. Let cool and pour into the opaque bottle.

Take this nectar 1 spoonful at a time like a syrup to treat a cough; also, use it to treat a sore throat, anemia, fatigue, and eczema: 1 Tbls (15 ml), 3 times daily.