It's known to pop up as a persistent weed in gardens, on lawns and even in driveway cracks. But plantain is one of the most medicinally powerful "nuisance" plants that you probably aren't taking advantage of for your health, perhaps to your own detriment.
Those bushy green leaves and small, stalk-like buds bear unique nutritive potential that could help you overcome difficult menstrual cycles, clear up skin acne and even treat painful arthritis.
For hundreds of years, plantain has been used as one of nature's most powerful medicines, and for very good reason.
Plantain works topically as a wound-healer
One of its uses is as an astringent for wounds and bug bites. Simply chewing plantain leaf or crushing and grinding it makes an effective poultice to draw out poisons from the skin and prevent infections and scarring.
"Because it draws toxins from the body with its astringent nature, plantain may be crushed (or chewed) and placed as a poultice directly over the site of bee stings, bug bites, acne, slivers, glass splinters, or rashes," explains Life Advancer.
Plantain aids in healthy digestion
If you suffer from constant digestive problems due to antibiotics, food allergies or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), plantain might be a simple cure.
Many have reported that the leaves and seeds of the plant aid in reducing inflammation and help repair damage to the gut lining.
The seeds of plantain are also useful in maintaining a clean digestive tract, acting similarly to psyllium husk in absorbing toxins and creating firmer stools.
When steeped, plantain leaves can be turned into an extract for use as a gut healer.
Plantain helps treat congestion, respiratory problems
Since it is rich in the mineral silica, plantain also makes an excellent expectorant. This means that it helps clear up congestion and mucus, effectively treating coughs, colds and various other respiratory ailments.
"Plantain acts as a gentle expectorant while soothing inflamed and sore membranes, making it ideal for coughs and mild bronchitis," wrote David Hoffmann, FNIMH, AHG, in his book Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine.
Plantain helps treat hemorrhoids
The same astringent properties that make plantain an effective wound-healer also make it an effective remedy for hemorrhoids.
When processed and turned into a lotion or ointment, plantain can be applied to hemorrhoids to stop the flow of blood, which is also useful in the treatment of cystitis accompanied by bleeding.
"Plantain is one of Western herbalism's primary topical healing agents, used as a lotion, ointment, compress, or poultice for cuts and bruises," adds Hoffmann in his book. "It may be applied topically for hemorrhoids and skin ulcerations."
Plantain treats all blood diseases, and nearly all other diseases
Truth be told, there seems to be very few health conditions that plantain can't treat. According to The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, written by Dr. Finley Ellingwood, MD, in 1919, plantain is effective against virtually all blood diseases, many glandular diseases, mercury poisoning, diarrheal conditions, female disorders, and injuries, bites and rashes on the skin.
"Plantain is almost a panacea for the human body, treating everything from all menstrual difficulties, all digestive issues, to nearly all skin complaints, and even arthritis," adds Life Advancer about the amazing healing potential of plantain.
"Add to salads, chew to ease thirst, or enjoy in stir fries. This versatile wild vegetable will keep you in good health for years to come!"
To learn more, be sure to read Dr. Ellingworth's plantain entry as it was published in his 1919 book: The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy.
By Ethan A. Huff