Not to be confused with the banana-like plant of the same common name, plantain is an abundant and useful backyard herb. Plantain is native to Europe, and was brought to the Americas by European settlers. This plant is both edible and medicinal, and you probably have some growing near you right now. It is commonly found in areas frequented by people, such as lawns, and along driveways and roadsides.
Briefly touching on herbal actions and energetics again, as I mentioned in the post about wild violets, plantain is cooling, astringent, vulnerary, and diuretic. It is most popularly known for its usefulness in topical applications, and has earned the nickname, “fairy bandage.” Its cooling nature lends itself to assisting with inflamed skin conditions, such as burns, stings, and rashes. Its astringency and vulnerary abilities make it a useful plant when dealing with wounds.
Last time I had a bee sting, I chewed up a plantain leaf and stuck it on the sting as a poultice, which yielded good results for me, but one of my favorite ways to use plantain is in a salve after infusing it in organic olive oil for at least six weeks. In fact, it’s one of the herbs I use in my favorite multipurpose skin salve, which I’m going to share the recipe for in an upcoming post.
I have both broadleaf plantain (plantago major) and narrowleaf plantain (plantago lanceolata) growing abundantly around my home, so I use the leaves of both for my salve. You can use either one or both. It’s a good idea to at least let the leaves wilt for a day or two before infusing in oil because too much water content can result in spoilage in the oil. Dried leaves also work fine. Go forage for some plantain, and check back soon for a great salve recipe you won’t want to miss!