Plantain: Edible & Medicinal Plants
By: Matt Tate, Co-Founder of American Survival Co.
Plantain is a plant that we enjoy teaching students about at our plant walks and in our wilderness survival classes. It is a useful, multipurpose plant that you can find growing all over the world.
Both edible and medicinal, plantain can be eaten raw or cooked. It is great for use in wilderness salads or wilderness stews. For me though, this plant really shines when we mention some of its medicinal uses. Plantain has been found to work for the following:
- Bacterial Infections
- Skin Regrowth
- Liver Cleanser
- Stomach Ulcers
- Respiratory Infections
- Sore Throat
- Acid Reflux
I’ve used plantain mostly in treating cuts, bites, and burns. My first experience with the wonders of plantain was when I was in the Ozark mountains with a group when one of the guys cut his finger pretty badly. It was at least a two inch long cut to the bone. This gentlemen was gonna need stitches, but with us being in a remote location, that just was not an immediate option. Even if we’d had a suture kit, placing stitches in the field where the wound can be difficult to properly disinfect is a fairly sketchy prospect, especially when considering the likelihood of infection being sewn into the wound.
Instead, we treated the wound with a wound powder that consisted of plantain and yarrow (more on yarrow in a future write up). We lightly packed the cut with the wound powder and wrapped paracord around the finger to keep the wound powder in place. After about 3 days, the cut was completely closed with zero redness or sign of infection.
I also used plantain to help treat a burn, when my mom got a grease burn at a 4th of July Fish Fry. A large blister appeared very quickly and my mom was in some serious pain. I harvested enough plantain from the yard to make a poultice and treat the burn. Once I had a poultice ready to go, we applied it to the burn and lightly wrapped it to keep the poultice in place.
I can’t speak to how the pain felt personally, but my mom told me that about 30 seconds after applying the poultice, the pain dropped off by about 90 percent. 90 PERCENT! Thats huge! By that evening, the blister had receded and there was only redness remaining. I left that evening but my mom later told me that the pain was completely gone by the next day and the redness was gone the third day. Considering the severity of the burn, the plantain application worked wonders.
These are a few of my personal experiences with plantain. My intention is not to discourage you from seeking medical attention from professionals; it is simply to share information and personal experience as well as encourage you to research this plant further.
For those of you who are interested in learning more about plants, there are a lot of books out there that cover the topic. Here are a few that I have read and have found to be really helpful in my search for knowledge of plants: