Plantain – A Medieval Marvel

Plantain (Plantago lanceolate) is usually considered “only a weed”, as it is found growing in gardens, lawns, paddocks and along roadsides, all over the world. However, plantain is actually a very old herb whose healing powers are mentioned in literary references from Chaucers’ days (1343-1400) onwards. 

Shakespeare speaks of ‘plantain leaf’, in Romeo and Juliet, as excellent for a ‘broken shin’; Greek and Roman physicians used it medicinally and English herbalist Culpeper recommended it for its healing properties. Swiss herbalist, Johann K├╝nzle wrote: “Like no other herb it cleanses the blood, the lungs and the stomach and is therefore valuable to those people who have little or bad blood, weak lungs and kidneys, pale looks, eczema and who are hoarse and plagued with coughs.” 

Plantain has an antibacterial action, is a gentle expectorant and soothes mucous membranes, making it beneficial for many respiratory conditions, including coughs, bronchitis, whooping cough and asthma. A strong tea made of the leaves is extremely beneficial for diarrhoea, haemorrhoids, cystitis and bleeding, as well as kidney and bladder disorders. The tea is also said to discourage smoking, if sipped and held in the mouth.

Externally, plantain has a soothing, cooling and healing effect. It is included in many ancient recipes for ointments and the fresh, bruised leaves can be used in poultices applied to cuts, scratches, sores, ulcers, wounds, insect stings, dog and snake bites. The leaves are also recommended for thrombosis and malignant growths, and when placed inside your shoes, they can keep the feet free from blisters on long walks. 

For Asthma – a tea made of the following herbs is recommended:

  • 50 g Plantain
  • 50 g Thyme
  • 50 g Horehound  

Directions: Place the above herbs in an airtight container, mix and shake well, and store the mixture in a dark place. 

Infuse one heaped tsp of herbs with one cup of boiling water for approximately three to five minutes and strain. Drink 3-4 cups a day, the first on an empty stomach.

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