Plantain(Plantago major) not to be confused with the banana like fruit with the same name, is one powerful weed! Not only is it considered a valuable food source, it has powerful medicinal properties too.
Plantain grows just about anywhere and to most people it’s considered to be a weed. Too bad most people don’t realize the value of this “weed” because it’s one of the most abundant medicinal plants in the world. Considering that fact, you have most likely encountered Plantain in your yard, garden or on one of your jaunts with your dog and didn’t even notice. Plantain can even be found happily growing in urban areas such as abandoned lots and sidewalk cracks.
Having been used for years in folk medicine to treat various maladies, Plantain is not new on the herbal scene. Having anti- inflammatory and antibacterial properties, Plantain is often used to treat wounds, dandruff, insect bites, eczema, and a wide array of minor skin irritations. Allantoin a naturally occurring chemical compound found in Plantain(and often used in cosmetics) speeds wound healing, stimulates new cell growth and kills germs, making Plantain a great herb to add to salves and poultices. I make my own all organic healing salve which includes extra virgin olive oil infused with calendula and plantain, extra virgin coconut oil, beeswax and vitamin E. I’ve used it many for cuts,scrapes, bee stings and eczema. Not only did it speed healing, but reduced or eliminated possible scarring. I’m never without my salve!
Plantain has been used in native cultures all over the world to stop minor bleeding. This comes in handy for unexpected minor injuries out on your dog walks. Just pick a few leaves mashed them up to release the Allantoin and place them on the bee sting, cut or scrape. If water is available add some water to the mashed leaves and place them on the affected area. In a pinch I have chewed on a few leaves to make a quick poultice to place on the affected area. Just be aware of your surroundings. I’m not sure I would put some Plantain leaves taken from inside a dog park for example and put them in my mouth!
Another benefit of it’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties is that it works well to soothe irritated mucous membranes. Dogs with digestive or urinary tract issues such as diarrhea, gastritis, urinary tract infections and irritable bowel syndrome can benefit from it’s wonderful healing properties. The seeds contain 30% mucilage and are high in dietary fiber which make them an excellent laxative along with helping to soothe the mucous membranes. Plantain has even been used, with some success, to help dogs pass foreign objects ingested and lodged in the digestive tract.
Having a long history for treating humans with bronchitis, asthma and other respiratory ailments, Plantain can treat dogs too. With it’s anti-inflammatory, antibacterial properties, Plantain is often used to treat dogs with kennel cough.
Identifying Plantain isn’t really that hard. Here are a couple of pictures to help you out.
To rap it up Plantain is a very useful herb that no dog owner should be without. If you aren’t comfortable with harvesting your own Plantain, this is where I buy mine. Make sure to always get organic herbs for the maximum medicinal benefits and look around on your walks, I’m sure you will see some Plantain!