Soothing Plantain

In the summer of 1794, Parthenia Pitts was sick. Her aunt, a renowned healer and midwife named Martha Ballard, boiled her “a Syrrup of Comphrey, Plantain, Agrimony & Solomon Seale leavs.” Ballard says little about Parthenia’s symptoms in her daily diary and account book. We know Parthenia was “very unwell,” that she had a fever, that she stayed a few days at her aunt’s home for care, and that she would still be quite “feeble” when she returned to her own home a few days later. The only clues we have to her symptoms come from the ingredients of her aunt’s syrup.

According to the entries for each plant in Nicholas Culpeper’s herbal, the syrup that Ballard made would ease a variety of symptoms – particularly cough, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, or headache. Likely, Parthenia had a summer virus.

Of the four ingredients in Ballard’s syrup, the only plant I work regularly with is plantain. As I’ve written elsewhere, plantain was one of the first medicinal plants I encountered in abundance in my backyard. I have been using it on insect bites and stings as well as rashes and other skin issues ever since.

Plantain leaves contain apigenin, iridoids, and aucubin, all of which produce anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antiseptic actions. Applied to fresh wounds, plantain can help staunch blood flow and heal bruises. Some studies have suggested that plantain can be effective against a range of bacteria. Plantain also has the intriguing ability (intriguing because I don’t quite understand the mechanism of it) to draw toxins and other unwanted invaders – such as a splinter or a stinger – out of the affected tissue. This makes it a wonderful aid for skin irritations as well as bites and stings.

The plantain used in Mamie’s Way products has been harvested in my backyard. The Skin Soother roller contains grapeseed or sunflower oil infused with plantain; it is a handy size for keeping in your purse or backpack so that it is readily available when bites or stings occur. Plantain also is one of the ingredients in the Healthy Glow salve. In combination with rosemary and thyme, the plantain targets bacteria that might lead to inflammation or blemishes and encourages the maintenance of clear, well-nourished skin.

With all of these wonderful benefits and uses, its hard to believe some people go to great lengths to eliminate plantain from their lawns.

Thanks for reading!

— Carolyn

Neither the above statements nor the products mentioned have not been evaluated by the FDA. The information provided is for educational purposes only. Mamie’s Way Herbs makes no medical or health claims about any of its products. For all health or medical related issues, consult your primary health care provider. 

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