Now that it has stopped snowing (I know, I probably just jinxed myself), it’s time to start looking for herbs! I’m relatively new to harvesting my own herbs but I thoroughly enjoy the process. Even my boys are learning what herbs are for, where to find them and how to use them. It’s been a great science project for us.
I’ve mentioned it before but plantain was the first herb I worked with. Plantain is something I always have on hand because it is just a good, overall herb to help with infections and soothe.
Plantain works at drawing things out of your body, so, when first applied it will help PREVENT infection. But, if you don’t get to the wound right away or it’s a stubborn one, plantain is a work horse and can still pull out the infection. Dr. Christopher believes plantain to be one of the most effective herbs for blood poisoning.
Have an itchy bug bite? Plantain will do the trick. Since it is skeeter season here, we are going through plantain salve like crazy! But, it works almost immediately for a bite.
It also brings almost immediate relief to a sting from a bee. You don’t even need to do anything special to it, just mash up the leaves so the juices are flowing and apply to the bite.
Plantain is very soothing to sores as well. It’s great for sensitive burns and for diaper rash. I always include it in my baby bottom salve. I’ve also seen it as a major ingredient for burns salves. If you haven’t read it yet, you should check out “Comfort for the Burned and Wounded” by John Keim. It was one of the first herbal books I read. Very practical information and lots of testimonies.
Plantain is easy to find, pretty much any where, unless you use weed killer in your yard. There are two varieties of plantain, broad and narrow leaf. They both work well. I like the broad leaves, especially for drying for poultices as they cover more territory.
Plantain is an easy herb to collect and preserve yourself. I like to collect leaves from places that I know have not come into contact with chemical sprays. Then my boys and I just fill up a basket and throw them in a sink full of water to clean. I can then pick out the grass or anything that my boys picked that wasn’t plantain. 😉
I lay them on a big towels to dry over night to get as much water off as possible. The next day I like to lay them on screens so that they dry faster and flat. I don’t have a lot of space in my house but I know others have used their attic to lay them out. I’m kind of hillbilly and put them in my car. (Don’t knock it, it works, it’s like an oven if you park the car in the sun!)
When dry they are crispy but not brown. I carefully put them in baggies to try and retain as much as the whole leaf as I can. I also place a folded up paper towel or two to absorb moisture. Make sure you LABEL the bag with what is in it and the date. (I’ve not done this and as much as I like to think I’m not getting old, I am, and I don’t always remember what is in each bag.
I know I have plantain ready for poultices or making a strong ‘tea’. Making a ‘tea’ of the herbs is great for many things such as bathes and foot soaks. It is very soothing to the skin for rashes, bites and even sun burn.
You can make a soothing sun burn spray as well. Just make the tea, put it in a spray bottle with one part plantain tea, two parts aloe vera juice and a few drops of lavender essential oil, then spray as needed. My boys find this very soothing.
The other way I like to preserve plantain is to make an oil of it. The oils is great as you can just use it as an oil or you can make it into a salve. For this, I collect and clean the leaves the same way as I do to dry them. The only difference is I let them dry out on the towels for a little longer, I want make sure they are really dry so my oil doesn’t have water in it. Then I chop up the leaves and stuff them into two quart jars and cover with olive oil.
I generally them give them a ‘water bath’ in my crock pot. I put a towel in the bottom and keep them warm for a few days, until the oil is nice and dark green. I strain and then it’s ready to bottle, label and I can make salve when needed.
What are your favorite uses for plantain?