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Thread: Plaintain - Super plant or noxious weed

  1. #1

    Default Plaintain - Super plant or noxious weed

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    If you never learn another plant, please make certain you are familiar with Plantain, Plantago major, and its myriad uses. This post describes the uses of Plantago major, but Plantago lanceolata or for that matter any species in the Plantago genus, can be interchanged.

    Used for centuries as a panacea, a medicinal cure-all, The leaves, seeds, and roots have been used as an antibacterial, antidote, antitoxin, astringent, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antitussive, cardiac, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, haemostatic, laxative, ophthalmic, poultice, refrigerant, and vermifuge. One Native American name for the plant translates to "life medicine". Plantain was even mentioned in Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet.

    There are two main active ingredients in this "wonder drug" One is Allantoin, while the other is the glycoside Aucubin. Allantoin is a natural cell proliferant which helps our bodies regenerate damaged tissue. Aucubin has been reported in the Journal Of Toxicology as a powerful anti-toxin. Aucubin is a defensive compound commonly found in many plants. It is thought to reduce the growth rate of many generalist herbivores.
    I have long hypothesized it is this ability to decrease cellular growth rate which is behind the performance of Plantago spp. as an excellent antitoxin, and antibacterial agent. Recent clinical studies have shown that Aucubin removes the ability of bacteria and viruses to replicate their DNA. These organisms have a short life span. Their virulence is a direct result of their ability to quickly split into new organism, thereby perpetuating the infection.

    Regardless of the reasons for Plantain's medicinal effects, I have experienced first hand the magical healing properties of this wonderful plant. I feel it is the first and perhaps the most important medicinal plant a person can and should learn.

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    Identifying characteristics:
    Plantago major, Broadleaf plantain, grows on disturbed soil; wherever heavy traffic has compacted the ground. The oval leaves grow in a rosette, and are distinguished by the prominent raised veins that run parallel to one another along the length of the underside of the leaf. Around midsummer, the plant puts forth a densely clustered, green flowered stalk, which later bears numerous seeds.

    Plantago lanceolata, Narrow leaf plantain, prefers to grow amongst a variety of other plants, usually in fields and meadows, and while the leaves share the same prominent veins, they are, as the name implies, long and narrow. The summer flower stalk of this variety rises a couple of feet from the ground and is capped by a tiny, green cattail-like "cob", from which little tiny flowers sparsely bloom in a halo.
    While there are no poisonous look alikes, if you slowly break the stem of the plantain leaf and pull apart slowly, you will notice the veins remain attached. This is a simple test to verify you have the correct plant.

    Habitat:
    Compacted disturbed soils. lawns, pastures, meadows, cracks in sidewalks, waste places and disturbed habitats throughout the United States.

    Parts Used:
    Leaves, seeds, roots.

    Uses:
    Wild Food Uses:
    Add leaves to salads, or use as a cooked vegetable. I love the tender young leaves when added to a nice summer salad. I find they become a bit too bitter as the season progresses though to be palatable.

    Medicinal Uses:
    Used for centuries as a panacea, a medicinal cure-all, plantain contains Allantoin, a natural cell proliferant, which has been shown to speed up the natural replacement of cells. This explains the almost miraculous healing benefits I have experienced with this plant. I mix plantain and comfrey in a healing ointment that is positively amazing.

    I have had wonderful effect using the leaves to treat insect bites and stings, as well as treating blisters, cuts, scrapes, and dry itchy skin. I have also used it to soothe the rashes associated with poison ivy and poison oak. My son came home from his mother's house covered in mosquito bites. He was itching himself crazy. I applied some plantain ointment I had made, and he stopped itching almost instantly. The next day, there was no swelling or inflammation, and most of the bites were completely gone. There is even anecdotal evidence of a woman chewing plantain leaves into a paste, and applying it to a brown recluse sting. Here is a link to Linda's brown recluse story. Caution, the pictures are quite graphic.

    To treat a bite or sting, simply chew a few leaves into a paste, and apply it directly to the sting. It may be necessary to hold it in place with a bandage, piece of gauze, or tape. When the paste dries simply reapply. This works quite well, but you may want to make an oil, or ointment to keep around the house in case of bites or stings. I carry a small tin of dried plantain leaves with me at all times. It is an excellent treatment for just about any bite, sting, cut, or abrasion.

    Medicinal Actions:
    Alterative, Antibacterial, Antidote, Astringent, Anticatarrhial, Anti-inflammatory, Antiseptic, Antitussive, Demulcent, Diuretic, Expectorant, Haemostatic, Laxative, Vulnerary
    Last edited by aldankirk; 07-24-2011 at 08:16 PM. Reason: Add extrenal link
    Happy Foraging

    Kirk

    Livingafield.com - Information Concerning Edible And Medicinal Uses For Common Great Lakes Area Plants, As Well As Information On Numerous Aspects Of Outdoor Living And Survival.


  2. #2
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Very nice write up. Can I suggest that you prepare the poultice some other way besides chewing. If the intent it to reduce infection the human mouth is not the best place for clean anything. Our mouths are pretty nasty and I'm not talking about the words we use.

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    Senior Member Winter's Avatar
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    You are right Rick, but your body already has all the bacteria you carry. If you are self medicating, your own saliva is best. IMO

    I always ate the seed pods, never the rest. Too bitter.
    I had a compass, but without a map, it's just a cool toy to show you where oceans and ice are.

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    That's not true. Bacteria and viruses thrive in your mouth. There is no such thing as all the bacteria you can carry. If that were true you'd never get sick. Bacteria and viruses can be controlled to some extent by the enzymes in saliva and to a great extent by the digestive tract since it's part of the immune system. The stomach has a low pH as well as mucus that contains antibodies (other stuff, too). The bad bugs in your mouth don't generally make you sick because they have to get past all that "stuff" to get into your blood. Let someone bite you and that bacteria and viruses thriving in their mouth suddenly bypassed all those protections and went straight to home plate.

    Chew something up and place it on an open wound and you've just done the same thing.

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    Senior Member Winter's Avatar
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    Interesting point.
    I had a compass, but without a map, it's just a cool toy to show you where oceans and ice are.

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    I have thousands of interesting points. I can probably make up 10 or 20 on the spot at any time.

  7. #7

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    There have been numerous studies done which show human saliva actually provides antimicrobial action to the producer. In other words, the saliva from another may not work, but our own is just fine. The reason I say "may" not work is because they have not studied the effects of saliva on another...
    Last edited by aldankirk; 07-25-2011 at 08:30 AM.
    Happy Foraging

    Kirk

    Livingafield.com - Information Concerning Edible And Medicinal Uses For Common Great Lakes Area Plants, As Well As Information On Numerous Aspects Of Outdoor Living And Survival.

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