Plantain will always have a special place in my heart! This amazing tiny little plant is the one and only that helped me to open my eyes to the world of herbalism. I call it my Gateway Drug to the world of edible and medicinal plants. The first time that i found out about this plant, i was hooked! I can remember the first time that I saw it, and i saw that this plant literally grew everywhere. I first found it growing in the cracks of my sidewalk, and then all over my backyard. I quickly saw that it indeed grew almost everywhere. Back alleys, parks, ravines, sidewalks, cracks, boulevards. The possibilities of finding this plant were endless. I would take my children for walks in the neighborhood to look for plantain, and we would come home with so much of it ! As outdoor lovers by nature, we would use plantain leaf if we were in a park and one of the kids got an upset tummy from ingesting too many hot dogs- or if someone has a spill on the sidewalk and came running with a tiny scratch. I will get more into the benefits of Plantain more down below so don't worry there's so much more to know!
Once I had spent a year learning and picking plantain, I came across a recipe on the internet about how to make plantain into an amazing healing salve. The very first time I made it, ( about 10 years ago) I made a huge batch and shared it with my friends and family and what a wonderful turn out. I had many people tell me how amazing it was, how it helped with so many things, and one friend that I had who had the most benefit, her daughter has very bad skin condition and year after year she came to me asking for more becasue it was the only thing that helps her daughter get any relief. This is what brought me to realize that my skills can help so many other people, and this plant is much more then just a pesky weed that grows in sidewalk cracks. And so my journey began...!
So what are the benefits you ask ?
First and Foremost, I would like to tell you about the nutritional profile of plantain. Plantain leaves are guaranteed to be more nutritious then any other greens that we normally eat, even more then spinach!
The raw young tender leaves can be eaten in salads, on sandwiches, and in smoothies. Once the leaves age, they become tough and stringy and are best to be used in soups, stews, saute'd in oil. However, chopping the older raw leaves makes them more easier to eat if you are unable to get your hands on the young tender leaves.
Plantains are rich in vitamin A,C, and K.
The Leaves have been widely used as a topical applications for insect bites, snake bites, stings, sunburns poison ivy, as well as rashes, sores, blisters, cuts, scrapes, sore nipples, and burns.
The plants are said to have potent anti-inflammatory effects- they contain the flavanoids allantoin, which is a nitrogenous compound that promotes the healing of broken and injured skin cells, which makes it a great candidate for homemade salves and ointments.
Plantain also contains a compound called tannin, which effectively helps to draw tissues together and stop bleeding. It is a well known anticoagulant, which is exactly why i keep jars of it all over my house, and in our backpacks- in the event of a skin scrap, or a cut, the first thing we do around here is apply some plantain to stop the bleeding.
Plantain can be warmed up and applied to swollen joints, strains, sore feet and muscles. You can chew it up in a pinch and apply it to a cut if you are out in the woods and get a minor scrape. For sore tummy's ( too many hot dogs in the bbq park) you can eat a few tender leaves to aid in proper digestion and easy tummy pains. For a major cut, plantain has powerful antibacterial properties and can be used as a poultice and applied to cuts , then covered up with a bandage and reapplied over time to aid in healing and to help reduce the chances of a scar.
Dried plantain leaf can be used in herbal teas to help with sore throats, laryngitis, coughs, bronchitis, Tuberculosis, and mouth sores. Roots can be chewed and used to help heal poor gums as well.
In Latin America, plantain is a common folk remedy for treating cancer!
The veins on a mature plantain leaf very strong and durable and have been used as a source of fiber for making fishing line, thread for cloth and to tie things together. Plantain can also be easily identified by pulling the threads apart from the leaf.
Around my house, I make a lot of different salves and ointments. Plantain salve, cottonwood, rose petal, spruce salve, and dandelion. Plantain Salve is by far the best and most used salve to date! You can tell by the amount of times the green salve in the picture is used compared to the other salves.
Ok, so now for the RECIPE! I have been tinkering with a few different variations of recipes for a while now, and i will share my most prominent recipe with you today. This salve can be used on almost all skin applications, and has had very promising results from multiple people regarding eczema and psoriasis. This plantain salve also works wonders on my own skin condition, which is simply a bad rash that i get on my hands in the winter. If you want to read about some amazing benefits of plantain salve, from real people who have tried it, i have reviews on my facebook page and on my Etsy shop review section, you can also do some quick searches online and find many many people talking about how wonderful plantain has been for their skin. This is no secret! So if you think making this salve for yourself might help, then read the reviews, do some research and decide from yourself!
What you need:
2-3 cups of fresh plantain leaf- or 1 cup of dried leaf
1 cup of dandelion flower heads (optional)
4 cups of olive oil
2 to 3 cups of organic natural beeswax ( depending on the consistency you are looking for)
-1 double boiler or medium pot
-metal tins ( mine are 60ml from amazon here )
-or glass mason jars
-spoon for mixing
-bowl for filtering out your plant material
All set? Lets go!
First make sure to gather up all of your materials, and make sure your kitchen is clean ! You don't want any contamination and end up with a moldy spoiled salve a month later. Salves should have a shelf life of ATLEAST 1 year, however I have made some that last years and still worked just as good as the first day.
Turn your pot onto a very low heat, low simmer. Pour in your olive oil and allow it to warm up.
Chop your plantain into small pieces to improve the surface area. The more exposed area, the more of the plants constituents that can be easily extracted from the leaf.
If you are using dandelion flower , you can also chop those. Add in your plant material to the warm oil, and allow this to simmer. You have to watch the oil carefully so that it doesn't get to hot and boil. This mixture can be simmered on low for 6 to 8 hours. Make sure to stir periodically. When you first add the plants, they should typically float on top. Once they have absorbed the oil, they will sink to the bottom. It is important to simmer for 6 hours minimum especially when using fresh plant material, because you want to make sure to evaporate any water from the plant off the oil. I had a batch that went to mold because I was in a rush and only simmered it for 3 hours. The result was disastrous- but a lesson learned.
Once your mixture hits around 6 hours, You can take it off the burner. I like to leave mine a bit longer, mostly because i am so busy with so many kids that I pretty much forget that it is even there! So this batch sat on the stove for 8 hours, and it looks simply devine! Notice the dark green color in the oil now ? That is from all of the plant medicine being extracted into the oil. Now you are ready to filter.
I like to place my cheese cloth square right over top of the bowl that I am using, and dump my mixture right in. Lift the cheesecloth up, being very careful not to allow any spillage over the sides. Twist the cheesecloth around and around and around, squeezing out every single last drop of oil.
If you like, and it doesn't hurt, you can filter out the oil one more time using a new cheesecloth. One time is sufficient, but if you are selling or giving away your oil, you might want to make sure that you remove all particles and little stragglers. Once your filtering process is finished, compare your kitchen olive oil to your finished product...You should see a significant difference in color! If you do, Thats the medicine in your oil!
Once your oil is filtered out and in your bowl, wash out your pot, dry it and then place back onto the burner, still on a simmer. Now you get to add in the beeswax! Now there are a few things to consider for beeswax. You must use quality beeswax. These is no cheaping out here if you want a quality salve. I purchase natural organic raw beeswax blocks from a local Alberta farm. The wax that i use is food grade, but you can certainly use organic raw cosmetic grade as well. I choose to use food grade becasue the smell of this wax just does not compare to that of food grade. It smalls so sweet and delicious, I almost feel like eating it right off the block- and you can, you can chew it like gum! Cosmetic grade, is great, but the smell is like wax. Plain wax. With a hint of honey. For me, once i bought food grade, ill never go back !
So now that your oil is warmed up again, toss in your beeswax. I choose to use a whole chunk, so my measurement is not exact, but you can purchase wax that is already shaven into tiny pellets, or you can use a cheese grater and do it yourself. I personally am way to busy for that, so i toss in a whole chunk. A whole chunk will take longer to melt, so be patient. allow it to slowly melt and keep stirring here and there.
Once it is melted, you can always check the consistency by dipping a butter knife into the oil , and allowing it to cool at room temperature. Once it hardens you will see if you would like a harder product. If you want harder then add in more wax, small amounts at a time, maybe a tablespoon or two, then check the consistency again.
Once you have figured out the consistency and the wax is all melted, you are ready to pour it into containers! I sell mine so i use aluminum tins, but if you are using for home use, you can use any tins, jars, containers or mason jars that you like.
Have you made plantain salve before ? How did it turn out ? I would rally love to hear about my readers experiences with their own DIY salves and see what worked for them and what didnt. You may have noticed, but i keep my recipes kind of general, with the ability to add a pinch here and add a pinch there, because making salves does not have to be complicated or hard! It should be fun and easy to do without the worry of measuring out exact measurements and doses. It is always good to follow a general concept or basic recipe when making salves, and tinctures , but there is always room for being creative or tinkering with a recipe to make it perfect just for you!
*This information for educational purposes only. This blog post is not intended to cure any type of disease or replace any prescription medication you are currently taking.
Always make sure to check with your doctor before choosing herbal teas or salves for remedies, as some herbs may not work for all people and may react to certain medications.
This post is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease or illness. It is not intended to represent or replace professional medical advice or prescription medicine. It is not intended to give medical advise either. **