At Forest School in Cheam we have been looking at the plants around us that have medicinal properties. Last week we took a look at Plantain or Plantagus major.
We made a plantain tea with it and the class tried it deciding that it tasted like (green hot water) so not a big hit. In the class and when out we use it to ease Nettle stings. The children found it to be a lot more effective than the common dock leaf. If you pick a couple of leaves and scrunch them up to release the sap and then rub the affected area it helps very quickly.
Here is some more information about the common garden weed.
Native Americans have called plantain “Whiteman’s Foot” because it seems to spring up everywhere. Although many consider plantain to be a noxious weed, it has been used for centuries by many cultures throughout the world, with the Saxons calling it one of their nine sacred herbs.
You can recognize plantain as a low, short plant with wide and round leaves that have parallel veins. There are many photos and videos online to help you identify plantain. What you may not know is that it is a very useful plant. In fact, it contains anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. So, instead of yanking out these common weeds in frustration, you can learn to cultivate them for all kinds of purposes.
Here are some common uses for plantain:
1. In a salad. Plantain leaves are completely edible, and they taste a little like spinach. Plantain is high in vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, iron, beta-carotene and calcium and is milder tasting when the leaves are small. Harvest young leaves for best taste. You can eat them raw in salads or sautéed with some olive oil and garlic.
2. As a tea. Dry, crush and then steep plantain leaves in steaming water to make a nourishing tea. Plantain tea is known to help to alleviate heartburn and indigestion in addition to it being an excellent source of iron and vitamins.
Plantain tea also soothes sore throats and coughs due to colds and flu. It helps clear phlegm from the lungs and nasal passages. You also can gargle with plantain tea to help heal and prevent mouth sores.
3. As a poultice. Plantain is a handy and effective way to ease the pain of insect bites and stings as well as boils, rashes, cuts and scrapes. The weed works as a “drawing herb,” meaning it can pull out toxins and foreign substances from the body. To make a poultice, crush up some leaves or chew them. Then apply them to the affected area. You can cover the poultice with a Band-Aid to hold the poultice in place. Many people experience instant pain relief.