A common weed that clears mucus quickly, heals skin and soothes IBS

Plantain Barefoot LifePlantain is a herb that is freely available.  It grows wherever it can find a little bit of soil. And, in the garden, once you have plantain you have it forever! It has thousands of flea-sized seeds in each one of those flower spikes, and you have to be vigilant and remove each one if you do not want it to take over.  In many parts of the world Plantain is called ‘White Man’s Foot’ as colonials carried it with them in their shoes or trouser cuffs and, thanks to them, it is now found throughout the world, growing wild in every space possible. It is the weed that grows in every untended verge.  Next time you pull up at a stop street or traffic light, take a look, it is probably growing there.

I have the Greater plantain in my herb garden as the leaves are larger and juice easily.  The taste is fairly neutral so you can add it to most fruit or vegetable juices. The larger leaves also make a good bandage for wounds, sores or insect bites.

For clearing mucus, I find it combines well with ground ivy and, if the mucus is from colds or flu, add thyme.  Pour 2 cups of boiling water over one leaf plantain, 2 ivy, and a small bunch of thyme.  Leave until cool, strain and drink 1 cup, and the second 3 hours later.  Plantago majorAdding calendula to a plantain ointment gives you a potent, all-purpose healing remedy, ideal for a herbal first aid box.

It is an extremely useful herb and easily accessible as it really grows everywhere.  If you harvest from the wild, ensure you are picking it from a source away from roads or other contaminants.

Although there are more than 200 varieties of Plantain these are the four that are commonly used as medicine, along with the primary applications.

Common/Greater Plantain – Plantago major. and Ribwort Plantain – Plantago lanceolata,

These are used interchangeably and have the same properties.

Used for:

Leaf infusion or juice- inflamed mucus membranes, diarrhoea, lung infections, catarrh, allergic rhinitis, coughs, irritable bowel syndrome.

Leaf infusion as a steam: Lung infections, asthma, catarrh, rhinitis, coughs

Leaf as poultice or compress – skin inflammations, wounds, bee stings.

Leaf as cream – hemorrhoids, external eye infections, slow healing wounds.

Spanish Psyllium, Fleawort – Plantago psyllium

Used for:

Leaf as infusion -indigestion, gastric ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome.

Leaf as a poultice or compress – skin infections, wound healing, eye inflammations.

Seed -Constipation (seeds are a bulking laxative and are also sold commercially) Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 tsp seeds.  Cool and drink.  It is a gummy texture, and you may need a spoon.  Best taken at night and only 1 cup per day for 3 days.

Asian Plantain – Plantago asiatica

Used for: Leaf as infusion or juice – Lung infections, hepatitis, diarrhea, phlegmy coughs, Leaf as poultice – wound-healing.

Seeds as infusion – vertigo

Guide to PlantainLearn More about this wonderful weed with the Barefoot Herb Club Guide.

Includes harvesting, using for medicinal, culinary, body care and home uses with recipes for every application.  Cost R15

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