Plantain Insect Sting and Bite Remedy

Romeo: Your plantain leaf is excellent for that.
Benevolio: For what, I pray thee?
Romeo: Your broken (cut) shin.
-William Shakespeare
 
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 Plantain (Plantago major and Plantago lanceolata) is easy to find and easy to use (there are over 200 species).  It is FANTASTIC for bug bites and stings because it’s an astringent that creates a soothing and cooling effect. Plantain  is a plant commonly found in lawns of almost everyone living in temperate climates. It is traditionally used to treat minor cuts and a wide range of skin disorders, including dandruff, eczema, sunburn, and bug bites. This herb is also said to be good for soothing inflamed bronchial passages and a sore throat. European research supports the use of plantain as a treatment for bronchitis, sore throat, and cold symptoms. Studies have demonstrated that the juice of the plantain plant is both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Plantain contains allantoin, an anti-inflammatory phytochemical that kills germs, speeds wound healing, and stimulates the growth of new skin cells (many commercial cosmetic creams and lotions list allantoin as an active ingredient). (From vitaminstuff.com)
 
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     English Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)                        Common Plantain (Plantago major)
      
Being such a common plant it’s good to know how to use it. I have 2 Easy Recipes to share:
1. Plantain tincture-  This tincture works better than any of that over the counter bug bite medicine found in the pharmacy. Easy to make and with very little ingredients.
2. Plantain oil- to make into a salve or lotion for healing dry skin and small wounds.
 
What you need: plantain leaves (seeds optional), apple cider vinegar for the tincture, grapeseed oil (olive, sesame, or almond oil) for the oil, glass jar, knife, cutting board, red clover flowers and calendula are optional
 
1. Harvest leaves and seeds. The younger plants without seed growth are going to really bring a power punch for medicinal purposes because they have not sent their energy to the seed heads yet. If the plant is producing seeds already, I harvest those and throw them in my medicines as well.
 
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2. Chop the plantain leaves and seed heads and place in the jar.

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3. Fill the jars with plant material until they were about 2/3 full. The Little Ladies also placed a few calendula and red clover blossoms into the solutions; both are also really good for the skin, but optional.

 4. For the tincuture simply add the apple cider vinegar to the top of the jar. Make sure all of the plants are submerged under the liquid. Take a knife and push the plants under if need be. Close the jar and shake daily, check to see that all plant material remains under the liquid line.

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 5. For the infusion, Araina poured almond oil over the plantain. Again shake daily and make sure all plant material remains under the liquid line.  
 
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6. Cover and let the herbs steep in the liquids for about 2 weeks.
 
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 7. Strain out the plant material and they are ready for use! I love how the plantain turned the apple cider vinegar blue!

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 We use the vinegar tincture for immediate relief of scratches(cat scratches too), cuts, rashes, skin irritations, bug bites and stings; just stick a cotton ball into the vinegar and dab onto the skin sore.  For a dry scalp dilute the vinegar with water and use as a rinse in the shower (be sure to rinse well so you don’t smell like a walking salad).We will use the oil for soap making and salves (future posts); or you can add the oil to your favorite lotion for dry or irritated skin.

**You don’t have to make the plantain medicines to take advantage of it’s medicinal powers. Should you get bit or stung, pick a plantain leaf, chew some in your mouth, then put it directly on the sting. My 14yo neigbor boy thought this was the coolest thing to do to a bug bite (Ha, this being the same boy that puts worms in his mouth to get a reaction from the Little Ladies).

You can also dry or freeze the leaves for a tea when you have a sore throat or bronchial problems come flu season (a drop of honey will sweeten the grassy taste). If you dry the leaves, use a food dehydrator, plantain must be dried quickly or it will lose its medicinal qualities. Fauna even carries a plantain leaf in her backpack that goes everywhere with her “just in case.’” I encourage you to go into your yard and try this, it’s so easy and a way to learn to appreciate those friendly little misplaced plants!

22 Comments

  • February 10, 2011 - 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Great post! I remeber as a young child, that my Granny used to chew up some English Plantain into a mush and rub it on a bite or a cut , whenever me or my sister needed it.wonderful little herb.

  • September 4, 2009 - 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Okay, I have a dumb question… is this the same as the plantain plant that produces fruits similar to the banana? We have a ton of those here in Miami, but I think this must be a different plant altogether…?

  • September 3, 2009 - 10:54 pm | Permalink

    fabulous. Another post I will link to. We love plantain and I made a tincture last year that I think turned out almost too strong. The kids find it a packs a bit too much punch. Maybe I should make a fresh batch for winter skin stuff. During the summer is just find some and chew it up.

  • September 3, 2009 - 1:13 am | Permalink

    Perfect timing, I just found a bunch of these at the river not knowing what it was and brought some seeds home to plant (and got attacked by sandflies in the process) I might have to go back and get some leaves for my nasty bites.

  • September 2, 2009 - 6:42 pm | Permalink

    My boys had so much fun pulling this up out of the yard tonight! We have some huge plants and they use the seed stalks as swords…..it’s nice to know a use for it though!

  • September 2, 2009 - 3:42 pm | Permalink

    wow! i think someone told me this is native to the sonoran desert (where i live in AZ). my herbalist aunt is always talking about it. beautiful picts.

  • Carrie
    September 2, 2009 - 11:04 am | Permalink

    Wow! This was sooooo useful! I’ve been pulling (and pulling, and pulling and pulling) plantain from my lawn. It has been extremely invasive in my yard. Now I know what to do with it! I will be out “weeding” today and my kids and I will make the tincture and oil. Yesterday I made calendula salve (a la Waldorf) and it is amazing! I’m wondering if you make the plantain salve the same way you make the calendula salve….hmmmmm? Many, many thanks for all your wisdom :)

  • September 2, 2009 - 10:58 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for these simple recipes!

  • September 2, 2009 - 9:57 am | Permalink

    Ah, I’m such a big fan of plantain as well. Never tried a tincture, though, so I’ll try that out.
    When my girls had chicken pox/varicella I tried different remedies, but nothing really helped. But then they thought of plantain themselves, which they found was much better that anything I could think of. What a sight it was; two little girls running half naked in the garden, red spots all over, picking and chewing plantain and rubbing themelves in! Plantain is ofen the first thing they think of when getting a scratch or something, and I’ve heard them teaching other children about it. That makes me so proud! :)

  • September 2, 2009 - 8:35 am | Permalink

    very interesting, Lisa. I’ll have to keep my eyes open and see if I find some. Glad you are back. Hope everything went well.

  • September 2, 2009 - 8:06 am | Permalink

    Excellent post, Lisa!
    Plantain is one of our most relied upon herbal remedies, but we usually use the chew and stick method. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve relied on this humble plant for bee stings. I’ve got to make some blue plantain tincture now, though.

  • September 2, 2009 - 7:21 am | Permalink

    around here, alas, is what I was trying to say. I got cut off.
    :)

  • September 2, 2009 - 7:20 am | Permalink

    We’ve been using basil which works nicely for bee/yellow jacket stings (my dh).

    Oof, I really have to get on to the makings!! I’m having a hard time finding mullein this year, as the forest service is taking it out because it’s invasive!! :/ Need to at least do what I can….

    (We don’t have plantain around here.)

  • September 2, 2009 - 7:13 am | Permalink

    I am pretty sure I’ve seen this growing in our back weed patch :) Very interesting post!

  • September 2, 2009 - 4:48 am | Permalink

    Definitely going to give this a go. How long do the vinegar tinctures last roughly? Also, random question if you are able to help. I have some herbal books from the US that simply refer to “violets” – what variety are they likely talking about, or are all violets equal? I have sweet violet and heartsease and wonder if they come under the violet category?

  • September 1, 2009 - 11:12 pm | Permalink

    This was awesome!! I’m such a newbie, I just love the jars and all the oil. I don’t think I would stand a chance trying to identify plantain in the wild. But I’m gonna try! Thanks Lisa.

  • September 1, 2009 - 10:04 pm | Permalink

    we love plantain here! i often hear my girls passing on their knowledge of how helpful plantain is for bee stings, mosquito bites, scraped knees…thank you for sharing these recipes!

  • September 1, 2009 - 10:02 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lisa, I don’t think I’ve seen this in my yard! I’ll really have to keep my eye out because this is something we could use around our house. Glad you’re back! :) Kyndale

  • September 1, 2009 - 9:42 pm | Permalink

    This was INCREDIBLY useful! I have plantain all over my garden and kept pulling it out and throwing it away. We are so making both the tincture and the oil. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • September 1, 2009 - 9:08 pm | Permalink

    You’re a treasure trove of knowledge! Glad you’re back, I’ve missed you.
    Blessings and magic.

  • September 1, 2009 - 8:06 pm | Permalink

    My mom and I were just looking at these things in the yard today. Can’t wait to tell her they’re useful! I’m going to collect some right now…

  • Jane
    September 1, 2009 - 7:42 pm | Permalink

    I have heard of this before but never tried it. You’ve motivated me. I’m going to go out in the morning and pick some.

  • Comments are closed.