Plantago major


Names: Greater Plantain

Habitat: A common “weed” in Britain and many other parts of theworld.

Collection: Gather during flowering throughout the summer. Dry as fastas possible as the leaves will discolour if dried improperly.

Part Used: Leaves or aerial parts

Constituents: * Iridoids; aucubin, 3,4-dihydroaucubin,6′-O-[[beta]]-glucosylaucubin, catalpol

* Flavonoids; apigenin, lutelin, scutellarin, baicalein, nepetin, hispidulin,


* Miscellaneous; tannin, oleanolic acid, plant acids such as chlorogenic, neochlorogenic, fumaric, hydroxycinnamic and benzoic acids and theiresters.

Actions: Vulnerary, expectorant, demulcent, anti-inflammatory,astringent, diuretic, anti-microbial

Indications: Both the Greater Plantain and its close relative RibwortPlantain have valuable healing properties. It acts as a gentle expectorantwhilst also soothing inflamed and sore membranes, making it ideal forcoughs and mild bronchitis. Its astringency aids indiarrhoea, haemorrhoids and also in cystitis where thereis bleeding.

Ellingwood describes Plantain thus: “The remedy is of value in the internal treatment of all diseases of the blood. Scrofula, syphilis, specific or non-specific glandular disease and mercurial poisoning. It is used in ulcerations of the mucousmembrane, due to depraved conditions. It may be given in diarrhoea, dysentery, the diarrhoea of consumption, cholera infantum, and wherethere are longstanding hemorrhoids. It is also given in female disorders, attended with fluent discharges and in hematuria, also in dysuria and some forms of passive hemorrhage. It would thus seem topossess marked astringent properties, as well as those of an alterativecharacter. “The older physicians ascribe an active influence to it, in the cureof the bites of venomous serpents, spiders and poisonous insects. A simple but important influence is that exercised in tooth-ache. The juice on apiece of cotton applied to a tooth cavity, or to the sensitive pulp, hasimmediately controlled intractable cases of toothache. It seems to exercise asedative influence upon pain in the nerves of the face, and relieves many casesof earache and tic-douloureux. In the nocturnal incontinence ofurine, in young children, accompanied with a large flow of colorless urine,this agent has produced curative results in many cases.

Plantago relieves inflammatory infection of the skin, especiallyif accompanied with burning pain or itching. Inflammation of theintestinal tract which involves the mucous membranes and is accompanied withcolicky pains will be relieved by Plantago. Old Dr. Smith from southernIllinois applied Plantago in the form of a saturated tincture as adressing for fresh cuts, wounds, or bruises. He couldthus secure healing without the formation of pus. He made his tincture of theentire plant and roots, pounded up in alcohol. He applied one part usually tofour of water.

Dr. Wallace dips a teaspoon in to hot water, drops into this five drops of thespecific plantago and pours this into the ear for earache, filling the earafterwards with cotton. He claims immediate relief in aggravated cases.Externally the bruised leaves have been applied in the form of a poultice, to chronic ulcers, and skin disorders, resulting from depraved blood. Thejuice may be combined in the form of an ointment. One physician told the writerthat he saw an Indian woman pound up a large quantity of Plantain leaves, putthem into a skillet, and pour on enough lard to cover. This was boiled for sometime, then strained. When cool, the product was a smooth, greenish coloredointment. With this a chronic and previously absolutely intractable skindisease, similar to a dry form of eczema, was rapidly and permanently cured.This ointment in appearance and action closely resembles the proprietarypreparation, known as cuticura.”

He recommends it for the following patholgies: scrophula, syphilis, glandular disease, mercurial poisoning,diarrhoea, dysentary, haemorrhoids, femaledisorders, haematuria, dysuria, haemorrhage, bitesof venemous serpents, tooth-ache, ear-ache,tic-douloureux, nocturnal incontinance of urine,inflammatory infection of the skin, chronic ulcers,skin disorders.

Preparations & Dosage: Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 2teaspoonfuls of the dried herb and leave to infuse for l0 minutes. This shouldbe drunk three times a day.

Ointment: an ointment can be made that will aid the treatment of haemorrhoidsand cuts.

Tincture: take 2-3ml of the tincture three times a day.

© David L. Hoffman, M.N.I.M.H.

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Written by David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH

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