Plantain: A Healing Herb in Your Backyard

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Wellness Mama » Blog » Natural Remedies » Plantain: A Healing Herb in Your Backyard

Plantain is one herb that I literally would not be without. It grows in abundance in our yard so we use it fresh during the warm seasons and dry and freeze for use in the winter. I make salves with it for calming bug bites, rashes and burns and it works wonders.

What is Plantain?

Plantain, or Plantago Major, is a common backyard herb with broad leafs. Most people think of it as a weed, though it is an incredibly useful herb. According to Mountain Rose Herbs:

“Legend has it that Alexander the Great discovered it and brought it with him back to Europe in 327 BCE. It has been referred to as the Whiteman’s Foot by Native Americans, as wherever they went, it seemed to spring up. and in some places, it is seen as a noxious, invasive weed. It is, however, a useful little plant. It has been used by many cultures the world over, and the Saxons considered it one of their nine sacred herbs.

It was considered an early Christian symbol of the path followed by the devout and many cultures today refer to it as an aphrodisiac. The leaves are quite edible, and often used raw in salads and cooked as greens. Older leaves have a stronger, sometimes objectionable flavor, and can be tough and stringy, but can be used to make tea.

Plantain is very high in vitamins A and C and in calcium. Medicinally, Native Americans used plantain leaves to relieve the pain of bee stings and insect bites, stop the itching of poison ivy and other allergic rashes, and promote healing in sores and bruises. Plantain tea can be used as a mouthwash to help heal and prevent sores in the mouth, and as an expectorant. Most recently, plantain is being marketed as a stop smoking aid, adding one more use to the list of ways that this versatile herb is useful.”

“Plantain has been used as a panacea in some Native American cultures and with some very good reasons. Many of its active constituents show antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, as well as being anti-inflammatory and antitoxic. The leaves, shredded or chewed, are a traditional treatment for insect and animal bites and the antibacterial action helps prevent infection and the anti-inflammatory helps to relieve pain, burning, and itching. There is some investigation ongoing to study its affects on lowering blood sugar.

 The Many Uses of Plantain:

Plantain leaf can be made into a tea, tincture or infusion and used internally (according to Practical Herbalism):

  • To help get Cholesterol to healthy Levels
  • To aid those with Diabetes
  • For Hemorrhoid relief
  • To help relieve Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • To help calm the bowels during Constipation or Diarrhea
  • To sooth kidney and bladder problems and to aid with Bladder infection, ITIs and similar problems. Safe for children
  • For indigestion and ulcers

Plantain Leaf is also very soothing on external  inflammation:

  • Bites
  • Stings
  • Rashes
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Burns
  • Cuts
  • Yeast
  • Varicose Veins

 How to Use Plantain:

If fresh plantain grows in your yard, you can make sure it has not been sprayed by pesticides or pets and use in teas or the young leaves in salads.

For stings and bites,  make a poultice of fresh plantain leaf and bentonite clay with water to form a paste. It will take away the pain immediately when placed on the bite or sting. If you don’t have the other ingredients nearby, just chew up a leaf of plantain and spit on the bite. It sounds gross but greatly relieves the pain.

An infusion or strong tea of plantain leaf (dried or fresh) sprayed on a sunburn will cool the burn and relieve the pain. This will also help sooth rashes and reactions from Poison Ivy, Oak or Sumac. To make an even stronger remedy, steep plantain leaf (fresh or dried) in apple cider vinegar for a few weeks and then strain. The infused vinegar will sooth itching, burning and pain on the skin very quickly.

A cup of plantain tea from fresh or dried leaves will sooth indigestion, heartburn or IBS. It is calming on all types of digestive disturbances. It is also helpful for UTIs, Bladder infections or kidney infections.

I make a salve of Plantain and other herbs to speed healing of wounds and use in place of antibiotic cream. Recipe soon.

You can also get pre-made Plantain tincture, tea, or healing salve to have in your  purse or first aid kit when needed.

NOTE: Plantain is generally considered a safe herb but as with anything, consult your doctor before using if you have any kind of medical condition. It should not be used in place of medical attention when needed.

Other Backyard Foraging

Ever used Plantain? Seen it in your yard and thought it was a weed? Share below!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


144 responses to “Plantain: A Healing Herb in Your Backyard”

  1. Kelly Avatar

    My husband has chronic heartburn and is trying to get off the meds he’s been on for most of his life. How much do I use in a tea, how long do we steep it, and if taken on a daily basis should this help?

  2. Jerry Avatar

    Since it is an herb also…. can you get too much of it? Overdose on it? I was wondering if the tea version would have side effects or if you were limited to one or two cups of it etc?

    1. Delores Bingham. Avatar
      Delores Bingham.

      I have stomach problems. Can I get this plant in a hardware store that sells plants? I have enzyme is going to need help with them to heal.

  3. Marie Avatar

    Hi,can you please tell me how to use plaintain leaf for UTI in babies.My little one has increased risk of repetaing UTI and doctors want her to go on antibiotics,long term.I am trying to find different solution.Thank you.Marie

  4. M. Praveen Avatar
    M. Praveen

    It is curable like a fistula treatment if is it benefit how to use please suggest

  5. Sarah Avatar

    Hello! I apologize if this has been already asked, but the bit I did scroll through the comments, I didnt see a similar question, so I’m asking..
    Does this article and information also apply to “Blackseed Plantain” ? Or Latin name, “Plantago Rugelii” it looks very similar, except blackseed has red at the base of leaves and I think narrower leaves. I have just started researching the plant, as I have tons in my backyard.

  6. Christina Heath Avatar
    Christina Heath

    I used Plantain to decrease the swelling of a bite from the common desert centipede (also known as Scolopendra Polymorpha). Another time that I’ve used plantain was when I was a child. I was stung by a bee on the arch of my foot and my Mother chewed up the plantain, applied it immediately to the sting, and within minutes the swelling went down. It’s a good herb to have on hand.

    1. C Meyers Avatar
      C Meyers

      I am a registered nurse, and I suffered a pretty good wasp sting that after about two days was starting to head towards cellulitis. I picked some plantain, lavendar and chamomile from my yard, mixed it with some yarrow tincture I had on hand from a couple years before, wrapped my hand in the poultice mixed with a bit of banking soda and over night the swelling, heat and most of the redness had dissapeard. Just to be clear I also soaked it in epsom salt and applied ice on and off and took apple cider vinegar by mouth. Sure beats having to take a antibiotic for 10 days. Just thought I’d share.

  7. Connie Avatar

    My daughter has a bad reaction from mosquito bite and I’m trying to find a natural alternative and came across your blog and it let me down the rabbit hole of fun and informative things. I live in LA, concrete jungle and I have never seen Plantain plant. I followed your links to tincture and dried leaves. I was thinking of creating a paste or ointment. How would I go about this?

    Any advice is greatly appreciated, there has been an influx of the zebra mosquitos who are quite aggressive, once bitten, the bite wound turns hot, hard and swelling where my daughter cries from the pain. It’s like the muscles seize and I don’t want her to take antibiotics.

  8. Morgan Avatar

    How do I use the leaves as a medical wrap for swelling and rash

  9. Laura Avatar

    Oh no! I think we used to have some but we spray our yard. If I found one plant that escaped is it safe to use it since it probably got sprayed?

  10. Cheryl Avatar

    Takes pain out of gums of teething babies. Make up a tincture and just rub a little on painful or red gums. They settle straight away and go back to sleep

  11. Karen Avatar

    Hi Katie,

    An internet search for a healthy lawn “naturally” directed me to your site. Very good tips and useful information. I’m all for alternatives to grass–flowers, groundcovers, such as periwinkle for shady spots,, and as you suggest, clover. (Also a good natural way to break up clay soil!)

    While reading the story, I couldn’t help but notice the advertisement for Scott’s Turf Builder…

    Perhaps not easily in your control, but I wanted to bring it to your attention.


    Compostin’ Sistah

  12. Deb White Avatar
    Deb White

    Got stung an hour ago by ground bees while mowing. I immediately chewed up plantain and put it over the bites or stings.. not sure which it is and it’s still is hurting like heck ! Was I supposed to scrape with a credit card first? I did that later. I left the poultices on, I have about 6 places and then still hurting used credit card and nothing is helping. Feels like bad burns. help. thanks

  13. Ayla Avatar

    Will freezing plantain leaves cause it to loose nutritional value. What is the recommended blanching time if freezing is okay to do?

  14. Naomi Avatar

    These are wonderful little plants. They grow in the worst soil… that is why they were called White Man’s Footprint by Native Americans… because everywhere the white man lived they decimated the soil so badly these were among the first things to grow wild. I am blessed to have them grow profusely in the very acidic soil of the ponderosa pine forest I live in.

  15. Linda Avatar

    I have plaintain growing in my yard. My then 3 year old grandson was bitten by a bee and he was crying like crazy with the pain. I quickly rolled a few leaves until some juice came out and I put it on the bite. In less than a minute he quit crying (amazing) and was ready to move on. This stuff is great

  16. Megan Avatar

    Do you know if all varieties of plantain have the same benefits? I have a few varieties in my yard but the one I do not have is Plantago Major.

  17. Jessica Avatar

    I have to say this stuff is the best. I had a rope burn on my foot once after tripping over a tent wire once while camping. It started to get infected when my friend made a plantain poultice for me. You could literally see as it pulled the infection out of the wound and within 3 sessions I was healed.

  18. natalie Avatar

    I don’t have a garden and I’m having trouble finding fresh plantain leaves… any suggestions what kind of stores I should contact?

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