(P. major, P. lanceolata)
Action: Vulnerary, diuretic, astringent, emollient, expectorant,
haemostatic, antipyretic, antibacterial.
Systems Affected: General effects on the whole body.
Preparation and Dosage (thrice daily): Dried leaves, dose 2-5 grams
Plantain grows as a weed throughout temperate zones of the world,
and is particularly widespread in Australia. There are several
species of Plantain, two of the more common ones being the Greater
or Common Plantain (Plantago major) and Soldier or Ribwort Plantain
Essentially all the plantains have similar properties and can be
used for medicinal treatment, although the American herbalist
Michael Tierra adds the observation that 'the wider the leaf the
more pronounced the diuretic effect'. Greater Plantain is perhaps
most commonly used by herbalists.
Plantain has cooling, soothing and astringent properties. Internally
it influences the entire mucous membrane and so is used to treat a
wide variety of ailments: diarrhoea, haemorrhoids, infections and
inflammations, ulcers, kidney and bladder problems, aching in the
lumbar region, scanty and scalding urine, excessive menstrual
discharge, bronchitis, bronchial catarrh and coughs. It is
particularly useful in cystitis and for haemorrhoids with bleeding
Plantain seeds (particularly those of P. psyllium, which are known
commercially as Psyllium seeds) are a useful bulk laxative; 15 grams
or so are taken with a cup of hot water.
Externally the plant is one of the best remedies for cuts and
wounds, skin infections, boils and inflammations. For this purpose
it is often used in compresses and ointments, alone or in
combination with other herbs such as Chickweed, Comfrey, Marigold
and St John's Wort. Used fresh, the leaves can be applied bruised or
chopped in the form of a poultice.
Plantain is well known for relieving the pain of insect bites and
stings, nettle rash etc. It provides relief as an application to
burns and scalds, and will stay the bleeding of minor wounds. It is
particularly effective as an external application in blood
Long held in high regard as a healing herb in Europe, India and
China, modern research has shown that Plantain has an antibacterial
action which destroys a wide range of micro-organisms, and that it
stimulates the healing process (epithelisation).