Plantain, not to be confused with the banana type fruit, also called Plantain, is a plant which can be found almost anywhere. In fact, if you’re not living in the city, it’s kind of hard not to bump into it.
Plantain it’s super nutritious, easy to identify, has no poisonous look-alikes and it is used as medicine.
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The leaves contain some interesting bio-active compounds:
Allantoin: This chemical is an anti-inflammatory good for wound healing and auto-immune diseases. (Source) Interestingly still, allantoin is an ingredient in a few cosmetic creams because of its cell growth stimulation properties and can also be found in creams for nappy rash in babies (see recipe section later in this article).
Flavonoids: Studies have found a variety of medicinal uses of flavonoids, including anti-microbial (including anti-virus, bacteria and fungus), and anti-diarrheal (Studies)
Phenolic compounds: These are another group of chemical compounds which have anti-oxidant properties useful for a wide variety of conditions (such as prostatitis).
The compounds in Plantain make it a highly viable plant for medicinal purposes when no modern medicine is available.
Dishes and Medical Recipes With Plantain:
A Plantain Poultice
(Source: ‘The Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook: A Home Manual’ by James Green)
This recipe uses the anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activity of the Plantain. It is great for cuts, sores and insect bites, including the bite of the brown recluse spider.
- Take a handful of Plantain leaves
- Mash the leaves (or better still chew them, our saliva can help release the active ingredient for the poultice – if you do this, don’t swallow the juice as you need that for the poultice)
- Warm the resulting mash in your hand and place this on the affected area
- As an alternative, you can use the leaves from a Plantain tea (see Plantain tea recipe below) and use this instead as the poultice
Herb tea is nothing new and Plantain can be used to make an infusion which can be used for a wide range of digestive problems including diarrhea. As mentioned above, even the left over leaves from the tea can be used as a poultice for cuts, wounds, stings and bites.
- Take a large handful of Plantain leaves
- Chop the leaves up roughly and place in a vessel that can handle very hot water
- Boil two or three cups worth of water
- Add the boiling water (it must be boiling) to the leaves in the vessel
- Leave to brew for as long as you feel is right (take the odd sip as it does to get the flavor right for you
- Strain the liquid through some cloth (retain the leaves for a poultice)
- Drink the liquid
- If you have anything citrus, such as a lime or lemon, add this as it offsets some of the more astringent flavor of the Plantain
Plantain Rabbit Bake
As well as having bioactive ingredients that can help us fix injuries and disease, Plantain, like Dandelion, contains all sorts of vitamins and minerals, including iron, vitamin A, B6 and C. These vitamins are essential in helping to keep your immune system functioning well and fighting off infection.
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Plantain can be used in much the same way as spinach, although eaten raw it is a bit stringy and tough. So use it cooked, but not over cooked, just lightly blanched; this is the ideal way to cook with it, to retain the minerals and vitamins.
This recipe is very simple and uses the plantain leaves to create a wrap for the rabbit.
- Prepare your rabbit for baking
- Cover the rabbit breast, leg, etc. with fresh plantain leaves
- Bake in an oven until rabbit is thoroughly cooked
- Serve with various other herbs such as wild lettuce, wild garlic, wild asparagus, wild onions, burdock and chicory
Plantain Ointment for Nappy rash (and any other sores)
This recipe uses the cell re-growth and anti-inflammatory properties of the Plantain. You can use it on babies with nappy rash or adults with rashes such as that if you’ve touched Poison Ivy.
- Take some Plantain leaves
- Finely chop and dry the leaves
- Place the leaves in a jar or similar lidded vessel
- Pour oil into the jar until about ¾ full
- Shake and let sit for several weeks
- After this strain the oil through some cloth and put the infused oil into another vessel
You can use like this from the jar, or if you have any beeswax available (or similar organic wax) you can mix molten wax with the infused oil and let it cool and set before using.
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And a quick one…
Toothache, oh boy, we all hate it and the thought of no dentist to deal with the pain makes me want to learn an alternative fix which I can quickly put my hands on and use. Plantain, again, comes to the rescue. Chewing plantain leaves can help with toothache and if you can’t chew, as it’s just too painful, then mash the Plantain up with a mortar and pestle, or if not available use stone on stone and put the mash on the affected tooth for about 30 minutes. Not only will it help soothe the pain but the anti-microbial properties of the plant will help remove or prevent infection.
So, the next time you see a Plantain weed, growing out of a concrete slab, or the edge of a carefully mown garden, don’t pull it, cultivate it and try out a few of the recipes here to see what a powerful medicine it can be.
A few weeks ago I wrote a short book (83 pages) with 68 medicinal plants in all states. Click on the image bellow and get the book absolutely free on your e-mail:
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