November 28, 2016

Plantain Herb (Plantago major, plantago psyllium)

The Plantain family of herbs is very hardy and tends to grow along the roadside where the soil is poorly nourished, dry and well drained. This is not the fruit that is widely consumed in Central and South America. It was once called "white man's foot" by the Native American Indians because the seeds stuck to settler's feet and spread prolifically. It has broad leaves and a tiny cattail appearing bloom with lots of tiny brown seeds.

The tiny brown seeds of the psyllium variety are prized for their fiber content and ability to absorb up to ten times its size in water. It also triggers the release of mucilage. Psyllium seeds have been used as a fiber supplement to help diarrhea, Crohn's disease, constipation, bacterial dysentery, and hemorrhoids. The seeds mucilage helps coat an inflamed gut and soothe hemorrhoids.

Tea from the seeds has been used to induce diuresis of urine and help treat urinary tract infections. Components of the plantain are anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic contributing to its soothing properties. This makes it useful in calming bronchitis and lung infections.

Psyllium has the ability to interfere with the absorption some medications, thus, it should not be taken within an hour of medication ingestion. It can also reduce blood sugar and cholesterol absorption.

The leaves of plantain major are "nature's bandages" or "fairy bandages" ) Lesley Tierra in A Kid's Herb Book ,2000. The leaves stick to the skin when crushed and applied to wounds, burns, scratches, insect bites, and even snake bites. Plantain leaves are an excellent first aid remedy for hiking and camping related injuries. Fresh bandages of plantain should be changed regularly three times a day. Troublesome splinters have been known to come out on their own when plantain bandages are applied.

Happy herbalism,

Dr. Rose