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Plantain – Natures First Aid

DIY herbs Plantain

 

Plantain: Natures First Aid Plant

Well this week I've been picking plantain leaves.

My neighbors must think I'm nuts. Every time I step outside I'm squatting down picking leaves out of my lawn.

 

Plantain is AWESOME!

*who would've thought!*

I know you've seen this weed before. It grows really well on foot paths and the side of the road and in the cracks of the sidewalk. Pretty much anywhere that the earth has been packed down hard and nothing else will grow.

I remember running a muck as a little barefoot freckle-faced kid and being incredibly grateful for these babies popping up on the side of the gravel roads. No matter how tough our feet got in the summer, gravel still hurt.

Formally known as Plantago major or broad leaf plantain (pictured above) these have a really long history of usefulness.

~It is an edible plant; the tender young shoots are good for adding to salads.

~It has beta carotene, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin K, allantion, aucubin, linoleic acid, oleanolic acid, sorbitol, tannin (and more).

~It can act as a  mild anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-hemorrhagic and as a  expectorant.

*I mostly use it for its anti-itch properties and can't contest to the anti-bleeding or expectorant properties.*

Magically speaking Plantain was one of the Saxons nine sacred herbs (referred to as wegbrade) - although it seems that it was mostly used medicinally for snake bites and such.

 

Plantain Properties

 Gender

Female

Planet

Venus

Element

Earth

Attributes

Healing, Strength, Protection, Snake Bites

Other names

White Man's Foot, Soldier's Herb

 

~Dried leaves and roots can be used in  protection charms for the home, car and carried  or worn around the neck

~For healing and purification baths, hang a mesh  bag filled with dried (or fresh) leaves and roots  under a running faucet.

~Toss a pinch of dried plantain leaves into a fire or  candle or throw into an east wind to carry healing  wishes.

~Can be brewed as a divination tea.

~Plantain roots can be added to any other herbs in a spell to give it a little extra 'oomph'.

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Even though it's been used for centuries and even referenced in Shakespere (Romeo and Juliet, baby!)

It's never been a particularly notorious 'magical' ingredient like Mugwort or Deadly Nightshade or Eye of Newt.....

Still it has it's uses and no magical cupboard would be complete with out some healing salves and oils made from plantain.

 

DIY Plantain Oil

You can steep both the fresh or dried leaves - let the fresh ones wilt a bit; less water, more of the good stuff.

Bruise and crush the fresh leaves before adding enough oil to cover them simmer double-boiler style* for 20-30 minutes. Don't let it get too hot or you'll destroy all the healing properties.

*When I say double boiler style, I mean that I use a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water. A smaller sauce pan would work too. Just make sure the  bottom of the oil bowl doesn't touch the bottom of the pan and that you don't let the water in the pan boil dry.

I prefer the double-boiler method because its quicker, but always be careful when using fresh herbs.

The water in the herbs can promote bacteria growth. Heat will destroy that.

But just in case, I usually just do a quick 30 minute simmer with dry herbs then let the bowl cool to room temperature before straining the oil to make salves.

You could steep them longer. Some herbalists say 2-5 hours. Or you could let the herbs steep a few more weeks in a covered jar for a more potent oil, if you wanted.

*And some day, when I'm more organized, I do that!*

This week I'm just wild harvesting the plantain, washing, drying and storing because we're almost out of boo-boo cream!  I slather it on mosquito bites, rashes, scrapes and burns.

Ever been out and about, at a park or somewhere and ended up stung by a bee or bit by a mosquito?

Chew up a plantain leaf and smear it on the bite.

I know....ew gross! But it works.

Its extended our play dates on a number of occasions!

Plantain really is nature's first aid plant.

Dried Plantain

If you're not into wild harvesting, I do keep a few bags of dried plantain in the shop!



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