Other names for P. lanceolata: Snake plantain, Black plantain, long plantain, Ribble grass, Ribwort, Jackstraw, Lambs tongue, Hen plant, Wendles, Kemps, Narrow plantain Quinquenervia, Costa canina.
Other names for P. major : Broad-leaved plantain, Ripple grass, Waybread, Slan-lus, Waybroad, Snakeweed, Cuckoo's Bread, Englishman’s foot, White man’s foot.
There are several types of Plantain, but I am going to write a bit about the two most prolific types in the UK. Plantain is seen as an annoying weed that grows in lawns, but it has many healing uses that would benefit gardeners. Plantago lanceolata is a dark green, slender perennial that is much taller than Plantago major, the prominent veins on the leaves earned it the name Ribwort.
Plantain grows almost everywhere there is human habitation and Native Americans called it 'White Man’s foot' as it seemed to grow wherever the settlers went. The plants name 'Plantago' comes from Planta or Sole of the foot.
The Anglo-Saxons named it Waybroed or Waybrode and later Waybread because it grew by the way or path. It appears in the Anglo-Saxon Lacnunga and is one of their 9 Sacred herbs.
In some areas of America it was known as Snakeweed, from a belief that it healed bites from venomous creatures. I'd recommend seeking professional medical help if you are bitten by a poisonous snake though!
Plantain is a soothing and healing minor wound healer, it can be picked fresh, chewed or crushed up and placed on minor wounds where it is especially good at drawing dirt, splinters and other nasties that might have got inside.
Plantain also has styptic properties, if placed on a minor wound it will stop or slow down bleeding.
Plantain seeds are mildly laxative. A cultivated variety P. psyllium, is grown for its large abundant seeds which are used as a natural laxative and can be brought in health stores.
Plantain is one of the best remedies for insect stings and bites, just rub a crushed leaf on the area for almost instant relief.
The leaves of P. major can be placed in the soles of shoes to relieve hot, tired feet, which is good to know on long country walks.
A tea made from a tsp of dried or fresh p. major is good for coughs and IBS. Add a tsp of dried plantain leaf per mug of tea to a tea pot, cover with a mugful of boiling water and leave to simmer for 10 minutes. You can add a spoonful of honey if you don't like the taste. Magically this can also be drunk to bring personal protection or added to a floor wash to bring protection to your home.
Plantain has a soothing effect on the digestive tract and has been used by herbalists to treat stomach ulcers and IBS. Do seek advice from a medical herbalist though.
Plantain can be used in magical workings for strength, protection, healing, snake repelling and to bring you energy and courage.
Bind plantain with red wool to your head to cure headaches.
Hang in your home or car for protection.
Place a piece under your bed to keep illness away.
Add a couple of pieces of root to your bath water to help you relax.
A piece of root in your pocket protects from snakebites.
Plantain salve for insect bites, stings and minor scrapes and burns
Plantain salve for insect bites, stings, minor wounds and burns
A handful of plantain leaves
4 oz. of coconut oil
1/2 oz. beeswax pellets
8 oz. heatproof jar
Small tins or jars to keep the salve in.
Tear the leaves into small pieces and pack into the jar tightly until it's half full. Add coconut oil on top of the leaves. Put the jar in the saucepan and fill up with water until it's about halfway up the jar. Simmer on low heat to infuse for 2 hours (check water levels frequently)
Strain out leaves, pour oil back into the jar and add the beeswax. Stand it back into the saucepan of water on a low heat until the beeswax has melted. Pour the oil into the tins or jars that you are going to keep it in, leave to cool and pop a lid on. Label and date.
Sources: Hedgerow medicine - Julie Bruton- Seal & Matthew Seal A Modern Herbal - Mrs M. Grieve A Kitchen Witch world of magical plants and herbs - Rachel Patterson Cunningham’s encyclopaedia of magical herbs - Scott Cunningham www.naturallivingideas.com
Image - wikipedia