Plantain is a common leafy green weed found all over the world. If you have a yard or have visited a park before, you’ve likely spotted or stepped on plantain!
Like most things deemed as “weeds”, plantain offers an array of good-for-you benefits.
According to Richo Cech, author of my well-loved and oft-used copy of Making Plant Medicine, plantain is specific for treating skin problems such as acne or eczema.
It’s also antiseptic and astringent and is the ultimate plant to grab for a good old-fashioned in-the-field spit poultice. (More on that below!)
Want to learn even more when you’re done reading these 10 ideas for using plantain? Check out THIS great article by Susun Weed and look HERE for photos to help identify any plantain found in your area.
Before you begin:
1. Some of these recipes call for drying plantain first. To dry flowers and herbs, I usually just spread them out in single layers on paper towels or clean dish towels and let them air dry for several days. You could also us a dehydrator set to very low heat for a few hours.
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1. Plantain Infused Oil
Plantain infused oil is a handy staple to keep around for making skin soothing salves, lotions, creams, soaps and such. It’s also excellent for using on dogs, cats and other such critters to treat hot spots, flea bites, scrapes and minor skin irritations.
Shelf life of the strained, infused oil is around 9 months to a year.
To make it, fill a canning jar about half-way up with crumbled dried plantain leaves. Cover with about twice as much as your favorite carrier oil, or to the top of the jar. (Some oils I like to use include sunflower, olive and sweet almond.)
For a quick infusion, or if infusing coconut oil: Set the uncovered jar down into a small saucepan filled with a few inches of water. Heat over a low burner for a few hours, keeping a close eye that the water doesn’t evaporate out. Remove from heat and strain.
For a slower, more traditional infusion: Cap the jar of crumbled dried leaves and oil and tuck away in a cabinet for around 4 to 6 weeks, shaking occasionally as you remember to. When the infusing time has passed, strain.
For a third option: You could also place the jar of crumbled dried leaves and oil in a sunny windowsill for several days to a week to jump start the infusion. (Don’t store for long periods in sunlight though, as it tends to fade flowers and herbs over time.)
2. Coconut Plantain Balm
Newsletter readers will recognize this balm as the subscriber’s bonus recipe included in May’s issue.
Click HERE to access the printable pdf file containing the complete recipe and instructions to make.
3. Plantain Lip Repair
Got dry chapped lips that just won’t seem to heal? Give plantain a try!
To make this, you’ll need:
- 2 oz (57 g) plantain infused olive or sunflower oil
- 0.5 oz (14 g) castor oil (or more olive/sunflower oil)
- 0.5 oz (14 g) shea, mango, cocoa or kokum butter
- 0.5 oz (14 g) beeswax
- 10 to 12 lip balm slider tins
Melt the oils, butter and beeswax together in a double boiler (or a makeshift double boiler made out of a canning jar and a saucepan containing a few inches of water.
Pour into slider or small half-ounce tins. (I bought those adorable slider tins shown in the photo, HERE, from Bramble Berry.)
For more on making and creating lip balm recipes, check out my post How to Make Your Own Lip Balm.
4. Plantain Lotion Bars
Lotion bars are so fun and easy to make. They’re the perfect thing for those tough to treat dry spots like calloused heels and hands.
I usually make lotion bars with equal parts of oil, butter and beeswax measured by volume, but have also included the corresponding weights in grams, for those who prefer to use a scale.
To make, combine 1/4 cup (52 g) plantain infused oil, 1/4 cup (28 g) beeswax and 1/4 cup (44 g) shea, mango or cocoa butter in a heatproof canning jar or upcycled tin can. (For a vegan version, use roughly half as much candelilla wax instead of beeswax.) Set the jar/can down into a saucepan containing an inch or two of water. Place the pan over a medium-low burner and heat until everything is melted. If you’d like, you can add a few drops of essential oil before pouring into heatproof silicone molds. I bought the mold shown at a local store a few Valentine’s Days ago. It was intended for making chocolates, but makes tiny lotion bars that are perfect for single uses. Feel free to use any flexible heat-proof mold that you’d like though!
To use, rub a lotion bar over your skin wherever it feels dry. They’re especially helpful for spot treating rough feet, knees and elbows. Store your lotion bars in a cool area, out of direct sunlight and they should have a shelf life of around 9 months to a year.
5. Lavender Plantain Bath Salts
I absolutely love these bath salts! Besides being easy to make, they have a wonderful natural scent that tends to stick around a while as long as you keep them stored properly. They’re also a great way to use up lavender leaves once the flowers have faded away.
To make, blend 3/4 cup Epsom salt and 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh plantain leaves mixed with fresh lavender leaves (and/or flowers) in a mini food processor, like THIS ONE.
Spread the now-green salts in a single layer on wax paper and allow to air dry for a day or two. Once completely dry, store in a tightly closed glass jar.
To use, pour the bath salts into a cotton muslin bag (like THESE) or an old clean sock. Tie up tightly and toss in the tub as it fills with warm water. Shelf life is at least 6 to 9 months.
6. Lavender Plantain Lotion
This lovely lotion is an excellent choice for soothing dry, itchy or flaky skin. It can be used as a lightweight daily moisturizer as well.
If giving as a gift, it couples nicely with Lavender Plantain Bath Salts (see recipe above).
To make this, you can find the full recipe HERE.
7. Herbal Plantain Bath Bags
Bath bags are insanely easy to create and put together.
To make, start with a few of your favorite dried herbs. For the one shown, I chose dried rose petals, lavender and plantain leaves.
Crumble them up slightly and stuff in a cotton muslin bag (like THESE) or an old clean sock.
You may also decide to include other ingredients such as Epsom salt (helps sore muscles), sea salt (contains natural minerals) and oatmeal (soothes skin irritation and itchiness) to enrich your bath further.
Once the bag is filled, tie tightly and drop in warm running water as it fills your tub.
Take a bath as usual and enjoy!
8. Plantain Infused Vinegar
Plantain-infused vinegar makes a great hair rinse for itchy, flaky scalps or a spot treatment for pesky bug and chigger bites.
To make the vinegar:
Go out and pick some fresh plantain from unsprayed areas. Fill a canning jar about half full of fresh leaves. Pour apple cider vinegar over them and cap with a non-metallic lid. Vinegar will corrode metal, so if that’s the only type of cap you have, use a layer of plastic wrap between it and the vinegar. Let this sit for a week or two in a cool, dark place. Strain the vinegar and store for a year, possibly longer, in a glass container out of direct sunlight.
To use as a hair rinse:
Dilute the infused vinegar with an equal part of water. (So, if you have 1/2 cup vinegar, use 1/2 cup water). Mix well and pour over hair after shampooing to help relieve itchy flaky scalp.
To use as a spot treatment for pesky bugs and chigger bites:
Dilute the infused vinegar with an equal part of witch hazel. Dab on bug and chigger bites as needed.
9. Plantain Poultice
If you spend time outdoors, you’re bound to get an occasional bee sting, bug bite, splinter in the finger or other such minor ailment.
One of the handiest ways to treat these skin irritations is with a “spit poultice.” Basically, all you need to do is find a beneficial leaf or flower, chew it up a bit, then spit it out and place on your injured area for a while or until it starts to feel better. If you have a splinter or thorn that you can’t see, but can feel – place a spit poultice on the spot, hold it in place with your fingers, a strip of cloth, or even a sock for a while and it will pull the irritant right to the surface of your skin where it can easily be scraped out.
It may sound gross to some of you (I felt the same way in the past!), but this is a highly effective method that delivers real results!
10. Plantain Tincture
Plantain tincture can be dabbed directly on acne spots.
To make, combine 1 part fresh leaves with 2 parts vodka. So, if you have 1/2 cup of fresh plantain leaves, pour 1 cup of vodka over them. (If using dried plantain, use less – more like 1 part dried leaves to 4 parts vodka.)
Combine in a canning jar, cap, shake and store in a cool dark place for four to six weeks before straining. Shelf life of most tinctures is at least one year, but will probably stay useful much longer than that. Store out of direct sunlight and high heat.
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