Top Benefits of Deeply Healing Plantain

Plantain is such a widely available yet grossly underrated medicinal plant that should absolutely be a feature in your home herbal first-aid kit if it isn't already!

There is actually a good chance that you've already seen it growing wild and never realised it, so today we want to share the basics about our wonderful friend plantain and some of plantain's top healing benefits so that you can begin working alongside this plant in your own life. 

What is plantain?

There are several varieties of plantain, but two main types are known widely and used most commonly in medicines - these varieties are broad-leaf plantain (Plantago major) and narrow-leaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata). There are other plantains such as red-leaf plantain, and varieties endemic to North America, as well as native varieties growing across Europe and Asia where the species originated from. You can now find plantain growing easily along roadsides, in parks and any other heavily-trafficked area around Australia too. The most common type of plantain we see is the narrow-leaf plantain here in Queensland, with its ribbed, long leaves and distinct flower stalks.

This plant is also known as ribwort, white man's footprint, Englishman's foot, and greater plantain if talking about Plantago major. There is plenty of lore surrounding our friend plantain, including its use as a wound dressing for soldiers in battle, as a folk treatment for snake bites (including by St Patrick of Ireland) and there are even tales that tell us that every seven years a plantain plant turns into a cuckoo and flies away!


Where can you find plantain?

In terms of growing conditions, plantain generally prefers hot, dry climates and sticks to areas that are well-used, where the soil is compacted. This plant is considered a weed, which is just a good reminder that in a lot of cases we have forgotten the medicine available in our common weeds! When harvesting, just make sure you try to find some backyard or more out-of-the-way sources of plantain - avoid plants growing around posts/signs/busy highways and roadsides where they are likely to have had lots of exposure to environmental toxins like exhaust fumes or dog wee. 

Energetics of plantain

Energetically, plantain is a unique combination of energetics including moistening, cooling and then toning/astringent. These properties are what make it such a potent tissue healer - plantain reduces inflammation and removes heat/swelling, while also helping to tighten and draw together tissue.

Herbal actions & benefits of plantain

Plantain has many amazing herbal actions, including the following:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antimicrobial 
  • Expectorant
  • Styptic
  • Mucilaginous 
  • Astringent 
  • Vulnerary
  • Hepatoprotective
  • Drawing

Plantain is known widely for its ability to heal wounds, reduce bleeding, support gastrointestinal health, soothe topical and internal inflammatory conditions, treat non-poisonous bites and stings, support mucosal and respiratory health and act as a potent drawing agent, plus so much more. Herbalist Jim Mcdonald (@herb.craft) has also spoken about using plantain's drawing action as an energetic drawing agent for negative experiences, emotions and entities. For more detailed info on this herb find Jim's talk on your favourite podcast app, called "Plantain the Future."

Ways to prepare plantain

There are many ways to work with and enjoy plantain, including as an infused oil (you can find ours here), as a tea, in a bath, as a spit poultice (yes, you chew up the fresh plant and spit it onto the affected area!), as an ointment or salve, as a topical wash or as a tincture. It's a very safe plant, with a wide array of preparations that can make it an easily-utilised and invaluable part of your home herbal cabinet. Both fresh and dried plant are helpful, and the main parts of the plant used are the leaves!

We hope you enjoyed learning a little about one of our favourite herbs. Here at Grown Botanicals our founder and resident herbalist Hannah, crafts high-potency infused herbal oils for your topical use. These oils are small batch, and have no scents added, designed to deliver maximum herbal benefit. You can find these in the shop, and as always, be sure to reach out with your questions and feedback via our Instagram or over email.

Happy herbing!