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Old fashioned plantain salve
Plantain is not a weed and you should never remove it from your yard. It is a wonderful
healing herb that is especially useful during mosquito season (see my previous post about "Anti itch remedies"). One problem is however that fresh plantain is quite
a hard and tough leaf. It is not easy to use. It would be much better to have some kind of
plantain ointment. It is possible to create such an ointment and a common recipe for such an
ointment is to use dried plantain leaves, olive oil
and bee's wax. Just ask Dr. google and you will find many recipes. However in this article I will
show you a different way to make a plantain ointment.
Plantain has been used by Europeans for a very long time to treat itching insect bites and small wounds.
It was brought to North America by European settlers.
Olive oil and bee's wax are however quite sophisticated ingredients and early settlers to North
America would not have had easy access to those. It would have been expensive. So here is
an old fashioned plantain salve that could be prepared with much less effort. It does
not require the plantain to be dried and as a base for the salve we use lard (animal fat). In
terms of equipment you need nothing but a pot and a fireplace. I learned about it while
visiting the Kings Landing Museum, an awesome place to visit.
I have tested this salve and I think it is even better than the olive oil/bee's wax version.
Here is how to prepare the plantain salve:
- Fresh plantain leaves (broad leave plantain or narrow leaf plantain)
- A knife, a cutting board, a small pot and a kitchen stove
Plantain grows usually on the side of a path or other places where grass and bigger plants don't do well.
It looks like this:
Broad leaf plantain and narrow leaf plantain look almost identical but the leaves are not as round.
Collect a few leaves and wash them. Take a cutting board and cut each leaf in small stripes. The smaller
the better. Put the cut leaves in a put and add enough lard (use e.g Tenderflake Pure Lard from the supermarket) to just cover the leaves once the lard is liquid. Start with a small amount of lard if you
are not sure and you can add more if needed.
Put the pot on the stove and "boil" the mixture at low heat. The lard will melt and the water in the leave
will start to evaporate. It looks like the lard it is boiling because of the bubbles from the steam.
Keep it at low heat for about 30min until the plantain becomes soft like spinach. You don't need
to evaporate all the water however keep the pot open such that the steam can escape. Take the pot off the
fire after about 30min and put it in a warm spot (e.g near the heating or in the full sun on a warm day). It's a good
idea to cover the pot with a cloth to protect it from dust and direct sunlight. It's OK if the lard
solidifies a little bit. Let it sit for a day or two. At the end you heat the pot again on the stove
to make the lard liquid and then you strain it into a small jar or a container for salves.
plantain salve the old fashioned way
This plantain salve is very good to soothe itching mosquito bites. You can apply it to minor scratches
and cuts or use it as a general purpose salve on dry skin. It is also a wonderful healing salve if you burned yourself
somewhere: For the first few minutes apply cold water to the area where you burned yourself. Once the pain from the burn is gone you apply this plantain salve. This salve accelerates the healing process.
I find it wonderful to try those old recipes and it's great fun to learn about these really good
old home remedies.
Update: there is a more effective salve which I made in 2021: Herbal wound balm, Calendula, Yarrow and Turmeric
© 2004-2024 Guido Socher