|Turtle imbibing on some Plantago major
L.. Humans have chewed the leaves and applied the
masticated mass over the wound site. The plantain chew is
full of the naturally occurring antibiotic defensin, an immune system
stimulating chemical found in our mouths.
Below right: Plantago lanceolata L. moments before I pluck it and put it in a salad. Commission E reports that extract from this plant may fight colds (4 grams of herb to cup boiling water). Below left P. maritima L. and edible specious of the Northwest coast. (More)
More as an edible wild plant
|SPANISH MEDICINE: Plantago
major. Called llanten mayor in Spanish; plantatge in
Catalan; zain-belar in Basque.
Food: Young leaves are consumned in salads, before they get to tough. Try wrapping the leaves around savory rice preparation that may include shellfish.
Also, P. media is fairly common throughout the Pyrenees.
P. major used externally as a hemostat (styptic poultice) internally for the same purpose, also as a diuretic when eaten as a food or in infusion (use leaves). The leaves are considered vulnerary, that is they promote healing. Plant is used to quickly stop bleeding from wounds. Like Native Americans it appears to work best when chewed, then applied.
A distilled water infusion of the leaves has been used as an eye wash (WARNING: may have lost something in the translation here). Perhaps a percolation of the crushed leaves could be used in the same way. What I wasn't sure of was the distilled water percolated through the leaves or were the leaves boiled in water and then the distilled product (pure water with any essence) then used to wash eyes. I believe the latter would be the best way to proceed, due to the purity of the end product.
P. media is considered hemostatic and astringent and is used in a similar way to P. major. P. media has a higher tannin content and is considered a better hemostat and vulnerary than P. major. Seeds are considered laxative.
A tincture of the leaves is used as a gargle to treat toothache.
Chemistry: Leaves have citric acid, oxalic acid, mucilage, saponins,
(Plantago lanceolata L.; P. major; P. maritima L.)
Description: Several varieties are found across the United States. The difference is in the leaves, P. majorís leaves are broad, ovate and P. lanceolataís leaves are narrow and lance shaped. And Plantago maritima has are narrower, almost linear, and is found along the West Coast, often submerged during high tide. The green flowers of all three are born on terminal spikes.
Location: These common plants are found on open ground, wasteland, edges of fields and roads, lawns. Plantago maritima as mentioned is found in the upper tidal zone.
Food: In the spring, I pluck whole leaves from my garden and yard and chop them into salads or saute them with wild leeks, nettles, dandelions and watercress. Summer and autumn leaves need to be torn from the tough mid leaf vein (rib) before entering into salads.
Traditional Uses: The flowering heads may be stripped off between thumb and forefinger into hot water to form mucilaginous drink for treating constipation. A few folks believe this plant when crushed and applied is a good antidote or treatment of poison ivy. Native Americans chewed the leaves mixing in saliva and Defensin to provide an antiseptic and immune stimulating poultice to be applied to wounds, scrapes, cuts, bruises. It is styptic, stopping blood flow. Simply chew the plantain leaf and fix it in place over the wound. Defensin is a chemical in our mouth that is antibiotic and immune stimulating. Digestive enzymes in our mouth are also weakly anti-microbial. Plantain lotions and ointments used to treat hemorrhoids skin fistulae and ulcers. Tea is diuretic, decongestant, expectorant. May be helpful in diarrhea, dysentery, irritable bowel syndrome, laryngitis and urinary tract bleeding. Acubin increases uric acid excretion by kidneys and may be helpful in treating gout.
Modern Uses: Commission E reports that P. lanceolata extract from the fresh plant may fight colds (4 grams of herb to cup boiling water), may alleviate symptoms of bronchitis and cough, and may reduce fever. It is approved for treating inflammation of pharynx and mouth; and for skin inflammations. Typically, a dose is three to six grams of the fresh whole herb (aerial parts when in bloom) added to a cup of water just off the boil. Let cool, then drink. This beverage may be taken three or four times a day. Also used in respiratory tract infections and is considered antibacterial.
Notes: Humans have chewed the leaves and applied the masticated mass over wounds. Plantago seeds of India and Africa are dried and used as a bulking laxative. Plantago ovata is a constituent of Metamucil.
Veterinarian/Wildlife: Plantago major is a favored food of the Eastern Box Turtle. Tough leaf veins can be stripped and in an emergency used as fish line, even used as suture material for saving a hunting dog bitten by a bear. Psyllium seed is used in a training mixes and wound treatment formulas for horses.