The healing magic of Plantago lanceolata

Although many times we talk about cultivated plants that it is necessary to fertilize, water and care, plantago lanceolata behaves totally differently. Simply by seeing it in a photograph we know that it is a rustic plant, without ornamental characteristics, but with incredible potential as a medicinal plant.

Plantago lanceolata, a rustic and forgotten plant

In fact, the plantain minor (plantago lanceolata) we can find it on roadsides, roads and growing on rocky terrain. It has a great ability to survive and practically does not need water to survive.

Belong to the family Plantaginaceae a not very common family that includes around 2000 species. Its natural cultivation extends over a large number of areas, including all of America (North and South), Europe and Asia.

It does not have special conditions of growth or climate (as you can see, it grows in practically the whole world), and in Spain it has been observed and identified in different types of soils and areas, both calcareous, stony, roadsides, etc.

Uses of plantago lanceolata

Its vulgar name varies from the area where it is located, although in the area of Europe it is known as plantain minor and in America as seven veins (in Chile, especially).

Other known names:

  • Birdseed
  • Carmel
  • Five-nerves
  • Lentén
  • Sheep tongue
  • Grass from the piles

The term Plantago comes from the gender to which it belongs, than within the family Plantaginaceae it is home to around 250 species. The term lanceolata it is not surrounded by historical curiosities, and is simply defined by the shape of its leaves.

Pests and diseases

Despite being a rustic medicinal plant and native to many areas, it can be affected by some pests and diseases. In the subject of insects, it is common to see Lepidoptera on it, where future nymphs or larval states will feed on it.

Some insects specific to Plantago:

  • Junonia coenia
  • Spilosoma congrua
  • Melitaea cinxia

In diseases, the best-known fungus is oidium (Podosphaera plantaginis) can be installed on the leaves, appearing lesions on leaves and stem when humidity conditions increase.

Some subtypes of Plantago tolerant to the disease.

Know all the properties of Plantago lanceolata

Active ingredients of plantago

As we all know, it is the active ingredients that, in their perfect composition, are able to offer us the calming and healing power.

In this case, when talking about the plantain minor, we have to highlight the main active ingredients:

  • Aceosoide (verbascoside)
  • Phenylethanoloids
  • Cistanoid
  • Plantamajoside
  • Isoacteoside
  • Iridoid glycosides (aucubin and catalpol).
  • Allantoin
  • Polysaccharides (plantaglucida, glucomannon)
  • Salicylic acid

Many of them sound like Chinese to us and with all the reason in the world. However, below we see what they are really capable of doing.

Nutritionally, it has great antioxidant properties, derived from its concentration in calcium, iron and vitamins A, C and K.

Inflorescence of Plantago lanceolata
Inflorescence of Plantago lanceolata

The most commonly used parts to use as a medicinal remedy are its leaves, stems and especially its seeds. In general, the area part.

The leaves are collected during the flowering season (when the inflorescence of the previous image is seen) and can be used both fresh and dried.

Plantago lanceolata it is indicated to relieve or treat the following problems and diseases:

  • Used in decoction, as a fluid extract or syrup, it serves as a remedy against colds, asthma and bronchitis.
  • Used by gargles, Plantago lanceolata relieves thes symptoms of angina.
  • By combining this medicinal plant with others of recognized benefit for the skin, such as wax and olive oil, it is a powerful skin regenerator, healing and to treat and disinfect wounds derived from burns, blows, scratches, etc.
  • Has anti-inflammatory properties (such as moringa), so it is used recognizably against otitis, insect bites and other common inflammations. In the case of the otitis, crushing the leaves and extracting the juice, applied to the ear manages to soothe the pain and reduce inflammation.
Plantago lanceolata leaves
Sheets of plantago lanceolata. Photo: Kinori

The greatest historical reputation of plantago lanceolata Lies in its properties to heal wounds, scarring, damage by chips and punctures (very common in previous times) and burns. It acts as an anti-irritant, anti-inflammatory and local pain relief in open or closed wounds.

In long-term treatments, it can also be used to treat eczema, psoriasis, and maintenance of first-degree burns.

It can also be used, by infusion of dried leaves, to improve digestion.  It is considered useful against diarrhea, colitis and gastritis, along with other stomach ailments, due to its high concentration in tannins and astringents.

Likewise, continuous consumption by means of infusions, improves intestinal transit, regulates heartburn and reduces irritability or inflammation of the stomach.

The consumption of large quantities of its seeds produces a laxative effect.

Suggestions for using Plantago lanceolata

There are three ways to get the medicinal properties of plantain minor.

  • Boiling the dried leaves extracted from the plant. We cook them for 10-15 minutes and use them topically on wounds, gargles (anginas), etc.
  • Infusion. Through a tea with the extract of the medicinal plant, a medium leaf for each volume of infusion, reducing the symptoms of colds, asthma and colds.

To prepare an infusion, 1-3 grams (2 tablespoons of coffee) of dried or powdered leaves are selected for 200-300 ml of water. It is brought to a boil and can be taken at most 3 cups a day.

Fresh leaves can be applied directly, several times a day, to treat minor wounds, dermatitis and insect bites.

Contraindications

No major contraindications have been detected in the consumption of Plantago. As usual, the intake of any medicinal plant, including this one, is usually limited to non-pregnant women, previously consulting with a medical specialist and nutritionist.