Plantago major, Plantaginaceae. This plant is also known as broad-leaf plantain, ribwort, snakeweed, waybread, rat's-tail plantain, greater plantain and common plantain.

The leaves or aerial parts of the plant are used.

These are collected during flowering throughout the summer. Dry as fast as you can as the leaves will discolour if they are dried improperly.

Functions of plantain

Plantain is well known as a wound healer and as an antidote to poisons. It:

  • is useful in clearing congestion and toxins from the body, treating infections and skin problems.
  • contains a mucilage that has a soothing effect on the respiratory, digestive and urinary systems. It protects their linings from irritation and relaxes spasms in asthma and colic and it sooths the cough reflex.
  • contains properties that are useful in reducing swelling and inflammation, encouraging healing, reducing vomiting and for the reduction of bleeding in heavy periods.
  • reduces the secretion of mucus, particularly in the respiratory system. This makes it useful in the treatment of colds and flu, catarrh, sinusitis and allergic reactions such as hay fever, and asthma.
  • can also be used for catarrhal congestion in the middle ear, glue ear and ear infection.
  • is also a useful remedy for prostatic enlargement.


Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 2 teaspoonsful of the dried leaves and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. This should be drunk three times per day.

Tincture: take 2-3 ml of the tincture three times per day.

For the gardener

Plantains are found in waste ground, in open places and cultivated ground and by roadsides. They prefer sandy or loamy soil that is moist and nutrient rich. They are easily grown from seed.


Duke, J. A. 2000, Anti-aging Prescriptions. Rodale.

Hoffmann, D. 2000, The New Holistic Herbal. Element Pub.

Hoffmann, F. and Manning M. 2002, Herbal Medicine and Botanical Medical Fads. The Haworth Press.

McIntyre, A. 1995, The Complete Women's Herbal. Henry Holt Reference Books.

Mills, S. Y. 1989, The A-Z of Modern Herbalism: A Comprehensive Guide to Practical Herbal Therapy. Thorson.

Woodward, P. 2003, Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies. Hyland House.




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