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greater plantain (plantago major)
how to grow:
Plantain is a perennial herb hardy in US zones 4-9. It is probably already growing in your garden. If not just fill some pots with soil and water with your other plants and it will come. In our garden plantain regularly grows in the pots that I had put outside and filled with soil and seeds of other plants. But if this doesn't work you can try to grow them from seeds.
I got introduced to plantain as a big help with insect bites. Just pick a fresh leave from the plant and rub it on the spot of your bite and you will feel some relieve almost instantly.
If you walk through the forest and accidentally touched a plant that makes you feel itchy you look around and plantain will probably grow not far away.
Plantain is known for drawing toxins out of the body. It's a remedy for blood poisoning and a cleanser of the blood. Therefore it is good as an antidote for poisoning (e.g. poison ivy, insect and spider bites and stings (wasp, bees etc), snake bites (still call 911 please) and all kind of liver problems. Therefore it can help with many skin problems that are caused by a not so well working liver like e.g. skin eruptions, jaundice or hepatitis.
Rosemary Gladstar mentions that it is wellsuited to remove slivers that are too deep to pull out otherwise. For this you need to put the finger or other area that contains the sliver into a hot plantain tea and leave it there for 20 to 30minutes.
Plantain is also good for coughs and bronchitis.
You can make a plantain poultice by simply crashing and chopping fresh leaves. Put the smashed leaves directly on the affected area and cover it with a cloth. Change the leaves whenever they have become dry (and black).
But you can also prepare a tea or an infusion. For this take 1 tablespoon (15g) of the dried herb for 1 cup (250ml) of water and let it steep for 15 minutes.
To dry the leaves you need to dry them quickly after collecting them in the summer to avoid them losing their color.
If you want to treat a liver related problem drinking plantain tea is as good a choice as applying it directly to the skin while with bites, stings, wounds and sores it needs to be used externally to facilitate healing and prevent infection.
Guido has also written an article about how to make a salve from plantain that you can easily carry with you and use when needed.
According to wikipedia the active chemical constituents of plantain are aucubin (an anti-microbial agent), allantoin (which stimulates cellular growth and tissue regeneration), and mucilage (which reduces pain and discomfort).
cautions and possible side effects:
- Not enough is known so it is better to avoid plantain when you are pregnant.
- A few people are allergic to plantain and therefore should avoid the plant.
- Extremely large dosages might cause diarrhea or lower blood pressure.
- Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide: 33 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use by Rosemary Gladstar, ( Storey Publishing, LLC (April 10 2012),ISBN-13: 978-1612120058)
- A Russian Herbal: Traditional Remedies for Health and Healing by Igor Vilevich Zevin, (Healing Arts Press (1997),ISBN-13: 978-0892815494)
- 20,000 Secrets of Tea: The Most Effective Ways to Benefit from Nature's Healing Herbs by Victoria Zak, (Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc (Dec 1 1999), ISBN-13: 978-0440235293)
- The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook: Your Comprehensive Reference to the Best Herbs for Healing Paperback by James A. Duke, (Rodale Books (Nov. 18 2000), ISBN-13: 978-1579541842)
- The Herbal Handbook: A User's Guide to Medical Herbalism by David Hoffmann, ( Healing Arts Press; 3rd Edition, Revised Edition of The Herb User's Guide edition (Feb. 1 1998), ISBN-13: 978-0892817825)
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