encyclopedia

Plantain Leaf

Scientific Names:
Plantago lanceolata L. and P. major L. [Fam. Plantaginaceae]

Forms:
Plantain leaf infusions, macerates, fluid extracts, syrups or press juice from the fresh plant

Traditional Usage:
– Antibacterial

– Anti-inflammatory

– Antioxidant

– Astringent

– Blisters (externally, juice)

– Bronchial Congestion

– Catarrh (Mucous) of the throat

– Cellular Regeneration

– Cholesterol Reduction

– Chronic Bronchitis

– Cleansing

– Colds

– Coughs

– Detoxification

– Diuretic

– Diarrhea

– Dysentery

– Earaches (externally, juice)

– Edema

– Eyesight Disorders (externally, juice)

– Expectorant

– Hemorrhage

– Hemostyptic

– Insect Bites and Stings (externally, juice)

– Irritated Mucous Membranes (mouth, throat)

– Poultice

– Respiratory Congestion

– Skin Conditions

– Soothing Agent (emollient, demulcent)

– Sore Throat

– Ulcers

– Upper Respiratory Inflammation

– Urinary Conditions

– Uterotonic

– Vascular Disorders

– Weight Gain

– Wound Healing

Overview:
Plantain leaf, Plantago lanceolata L. and P. major L. [Fam. Plantaginaceae], has a long history of traditional use as a medicine, dating back to ancient Roman and Greek times. Some of the traditional uses of plantain leaf include as an astringent, demulcent and diuretic. Plantain leaf has many medicinal virtues and is listed in the German Commission E Monographs for treating catarrh of the respiratory passages and inflammation of the mouth and throat. The Commission E also recommends plantain leaf externally for treating skin inflammation and folk medicine recommends the leaf juice for treating blisters, sores, ulcers, insect stings and bites, earaches, eye ailments and to reduce the heat and pain of inflammation. Traditionally, plantain is most often used internally to suppress coughs and soothe mucous membrane inflammation associated with bronchitis, colds and upper respiratory congestion. The famous Austrian herbalist, Maria Treben, also recommended plantain leaf tea for stimulating weight gain in seriously underweight persons, although this indication has not been confirmed scientifically. Experimentally, Plantago major leaf extracts reduced plasma lipid, cholesterol, beta-lipoprotein and triglyceride concentrations in rabbits with atherosclerosis; and extracts also increased uterine smooth muscle tone in guinea pigs and rabbits. Other studies have found uterine toning benefits of the leaf tea as well. Plantain was a prominent folk remedy in Latin America against abnormal growths. Five phenylethanoids (acteoside, cistanoside F, lavandulifolioside, plantamajoside and isoacteoside) were isolated from the herb of Plantago lanceolata L. and were shown in animal studies to inhibit effects of arachidonic acid-induced inflammation and edema. Another animal study found that extracts from both Plantago species strongly suppressed inflammation and leukocyte infiltration normally associated with caraginan and prostaglandin E1. Plantain leaf juice and cold fluid or aqueous extracts also have confirmed wound healing and antibacterial activity, attributed to aucubigenin liberated from aucubin by beta-glucosidase (heat-sensitive).

Active Ingredients:
Plantain leaf contains: 2-6.5% mucilage; 6.5% tannins; iridoid glycosides including aucubin (0.3-2.5%) and catalpol (0.3-1.1%); the aglycone, aucubigenin; five phenylethanoids: acteoside, cistanoside F, lavandulifolioside, plantamajoside and isoacteoside; over 1% silicic acid; phenolic carboxylic acids; flavonoids including apigenin and luteolin; and minerals including zinc and potassium.

Suggested Amount:
Plantain leaf is recommended as an infusion taken three to four times per day using 2 rounded teaspoonfuls (ca. 1.5g) of whole or ground leaf per 150ml of boiling water. The herb can also be infused in cold water initially for 1 to 2 hours and then brought to a boil for a short while and after 10 minutes passed through a tea strainer. This tea can also be used externally on wounds and sores, to be applied three to four times daily. For external use as a rinse or a gargle, a cold macerate is recommended and can be prepared by soaking 1.5 grams of cut herb in 150ml of cold water for 1 to 2 hours (stir frequently). For stimulating wound healing, the freshly pressed leaf juice is most often recommended.

Drug Interactions:
None known

Contraindications:
None known

Side Effects:
None known

References:

Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J 2000. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Copyright American Botanical Council. Publ. by Integrative Medicine Communications, 1029 Chestnut Street, Newton, MA 02464. Pp. 307-310.

Ramos Ruiz A, De la Torre RA, Alonso N, Villaescusa A, Betancourt J, Vizoso A. 1996. Screening of medicinal plants for induction of somatic segregation activity in Aspergillus nidulans. J Ethnopharmacol. 1996 Jul 5; 52(3): 123-7.

Murai M, Tamayama Y, Nishibe S. 1995. Phenylethanoids in the herb of Plantago lanceolata and inhibitory effect on arachidonic acid-induced mouse ear edema. Planta Med. 1995 Oct; 61(5): 479-80.

Shipochliev T. 1981. [Uterotonic action of extracts from a group of medicinal plants]. Vet Med Nauki. 1981; 18(4): 94-8. Bulgarian.

Shipochliev T, Dimitrov A, Aleksandrova E. 1981. [Anti-inflammatory action of a group of plant extracts]. Vet Med Nauki. 1981; 18(6): 87-94. Bulgarian.