Plantain, Ribwort
Plantago lanceolata
Scientific Name
Long Plantain, Ribble Grass, Snake Weed, Lamb's Tongue.
Of the many medicinal plants we know, this is one that has been as wide spread and esteemed in ancient times as it is now. Since primeval times it was the ruler of the ways and grew forthe benef it of mankind. An Anglo Saxon source mentions Plantain "Weybroed" as one of the nine sacred herbs:
“And you, Weybroed,
Mother of plants,
Open to the east
Might inside:
Over you creak wagons,
Over you rode women,
Over you rode brides,
Over you snorted horses.
You withstood all
And offered resistance.
So withstand too the venom
And contagion
And misfortune
That sweep across the land.”
Today as then we need medicinal plants like Plantain which is so much esteemed in herbals. lts relative, the Common Plantain or Broad-leaved Plantain (Plantago major) has the same medicinal value and is used in the same way. Both grow by roadsides, in ditches, meadows, moist wastelands and may be found all over the world.

Primarily Plantain is used for all disorders of the respiratory organs, especially for phlegm in the lungs, whooping cough, bronchial asthma, even for tuberculosis of the lungs. The Swiss Abbé and herbalist Kuenzle, who knew much about the medicinal properties of herbs wrote: “The whole plant, roots, flowers and seeds of the Plantain is used. Like no other herb it cleanses the blood, the lungs and the stomach and is therefore valuable to those people who have little or bad blood, weak lungs and kidneys, pale looks, eczema and herpes, who are hoarse and plagued with slight coughs or who are as skinny as goats that not even wrapping them in butter would help. lf weak children, despite good food, stay so, it helps them back on their feet.”
l, myself, was able to help many a person suffering from bronchial asthma, with Thyme and Plantain used in equal proportions (see “directions”). Such an infusion is also recommended for liver and bladder disorders.

For bronchitis, lung and bronchial asthma the tea is made as follows. One cup of cold water, with a slice of lemon (without skin if sprayed) and t heaped teaspoon of raw sugar, is brought to the boil. When just off the boil, 1 teaspoon of the tea mixture is added and steeped for half a minute. For bad cases the tea is freshly prepared 4 to 5 times a day and taken in sips as hot as possible.
In old herbals you can read that the seeds are used for the prevention of stones if you eat 8 gm. daily and drink Chicory tea. Plantain syrup rids the blood of toxins and you should take 1 tablespoon (children 1 teaspoonful) before each meal for 3 weeks (see “directions”).

Farmers know that Plantain is an old esteemed remedy for wounds. One day I watched a farmer, who had injured himself in the field, pick Plantain leaves, crush them and place them on the wound. Despite the unwashed leaves there was no infection. The fresh, bruised leaves are applied on cuts, scratches, and stings from poisonous insects, dog bites and snake bites. For the latter it is a stopgap measure if no doctor is nearby. An old herbal state: “lf the toad is bitten by a spider, it hurries to the Plantain to get help.”

For goitre the fresh leaves are crushed between the hands, mixed with a bit of salt and applied to the throat. To keep the feet free from blisters on long walks, some leaves are put in the shoes. Even malignant growths disappear if treated with fresh, crushed leaves. They are also beneficial for malignant glandular disorders. ln this case it is also good to macerate fresh Marjoram (in urgent cases, dried Marjoram will do) in olive oil. The Marjoram is put in a bottle, oil is poured over it and it is left in a warm place for 10 days. The Marjoram oil so derived is brushed on the affected glands, the crushed Plantain leaves are placed over it and bandaged with a cloth. Soon an improvement is noted.
During one of my talks I said that the crushed leaves of Plantain would heal every wound, be it 10 years old. 5 month later, in another talk in the same town, a woman stated; "l was very sceptical about Plantain healing even old wounds. I have a neighbor who had open sores on her foot for 17 years and was therefore unable to go outside her house. I took Plantain leaves to her and applied them according to your directions on the sore foot. I had to retract my doubts. To everyone's surprise the wound soon healed and in the past 5 months has not re-opened." 

Another example: An ex-serviceman with an artificial leg had open sores on the stump caused by the long summer heat. These would not heal; no ointment, injection or X-ray treatment gave relief. When he applied Plantain leaves the sores healed almost overnight and he could go back to work.

Years ago I was able to help myself with fresh Plantain juice. While carrying my then one year old grandchild in my arms, it suddenly bit into my left cheek above the corner of the mouth. For a few day this was quite painful. From time to time I dabbed the spot with Plantain herb essence. Suddenly one day I felt a pea-size hard lump where I had been bitten. lmmediately I picked some Plantain leaves, crushed them between finger and thumb and dabbed the lump with it frequently during the day. ln the evening, this lump was already softer and the next morning completely gone, to everyone's relief. lt is not an exaggeration when the Abbé Kneipp says in his writings that there is a herb growing for every disease. The longer I deal with herbs, the more miracles I find. Many people die from malignant growths each year, althought there are plants for this. How much healthier and happier we would be, had we more understanding of our herbs which grow all around us. ln many people's eyes they are only "weeds”. Take the trouble to find out about herbs and your complaint will disappear gradually.

These lines of mine should also give hope to old people who suffer from open sores on legs for years. The sores will soon heal if Plantain leaves are used as a poultice. Age is of no importance. Should there also be a swelling, the foot is bathed first in a cold infusion of Mallow or a decoction of Horsetail. The edges of the sores are coated with Calendula ointment (see "directions Calendula"). Plantain leaves are also recommended for thrombosis.
INFUSION: One heaped teaspoon of leaves to ¼ litre of boiling water, infused for a short time.

TEA MIXTURE: Equal proportions of Plantain and Thyme are mixed, 1 teaspoonful to ¼ litre of boiling water (see above text).

POULTICE: Fresh leaves of Ribwort or Common Plantain are washed and crushed on a wooden board with a wooden rolling pin and applied.
SYRUP 1: Two heaped double handfuls of washed leaves are put through a mincer. To this add water so it does not burn, 300 gm. of raw sugar and 250 gm. of honey. Stir constantly. On a low heat until this mixture is thick-flowing and bottle (Keep in refrigerator).

SYRUP 2: In a wide-mouthed jar or pot alternate layers of Plantain with layers of raw sugar. Press down well, let it settle and add more layers until full. In a sheltered spot in the garden a hole is dug, into it is placed this jar, which is covered by 3 to 4 layers of parchment paper. A board is put over it and weighed down with a stone. Everything is covered with soil. Board and stone should still be visible.

Through even heat of the soil, the sugar and the leaves ferment. After 3 months the jar is taken out and the juice is put through a fruit press (not a cloth), brought to the boil and bottled. If this kind of fermentation is not possible, the jar is left in the sun or in a warm place until the syrup sets on the bottom of the jar. This too is boiled once.