NARROW LEAF PLANTAIN
There are several hundred species of plantain around the world.
Plantains from temperate regions are common perennials but adaptable to tropical or subtropical climates, they are therefore found all over the world except in very cold or too hot regions.
They are propagated by their small seeds which remain alive for a long time .
Plantago major, greater plantain and Plantago lanceolata, narrow leaf plantain as well as intermediate forms (Plantago intermedia) are native to Europe but now present in many countries.
They are small perennials, without stems, with basal leaves , oval for the greater plantain, elongated and narrow for the narrow leaf plantain.
The flowers are small, united in elongated spikes of 10 to 15 cm for the greater plantain, or ovoid of 1 to 2 cm for the narrow leaf plantain, on an unbranched stem.
The seeds are numerous, very small in size and easily disseminated.
PLANTAGO MAJOR or greater plantain
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION AND PROPERTIES
The two plantains described have similar chemical compositions, they contain:
- iridoid glycosides (cyclic terpenes generally linked to glucose) pharmacologically active but unstable (especially when heated), the most abundant is aucuboside, these compounds are only present in the fresh leaf,
- flavonoids common in plants (apigenin, luteolin, quercetin etc.) and other phenolic derivatives (phenol acids: caffeic acid, chlorogenic) and heterosides (flavonol, phenol acids),
- a mucilaginous substance (2 to 6%) rich in arabinose, galactose and uronic acids (an anti-inflammatory arabinogalactan),
- a little vitamin C (8 mg / 100g) and minerals (zinc, silica, potassium),
- carbohydrates (polysaccharides), tannins (6%), pigments, organic acids, very little protein and lipids, but without original properties,
- alkaloids in very small quantities and pharmacologically inactive.
THE MUCILAGE is anti-inflammatory( leaves and seeds) and a mild laxative (seeds).
FRESH LEAF JUICE is:
- vulnerary (healing),
- antiseptic (antibacterial),
- and anti-inflammatory.
The aqueous leaf extract (DECOCTION or PROLONGED INFUSION) is:
- DIURETIC and slightly hypotensive (in animals),
- ANTIBIOTIC against bacteria isolated from purulent conjunctival secretions,
- ANTIVIRAL (against the herpes virus),
- antispasmodic and ANTI-ALLERGIC.
In animals, the leaf extract does not induce allergic reaction and appears to be immunostimulating (stimulation of the phagocytic activity of granulocytes).
The leaf and root decoction is antioxidant, and scavenger of free radicals .
The plant does not exhibit toxicity at the following doses: decoction, 25g /liter by mouth and 50g / liter in mouthwash (1/4 of a liter per day).
The intravenous LD50 in the rat: 175mg / kg of aqueous extract.
Very YOUNG LEAVES are edible (not too bitter) in salads or cooked like spinach (vitamins A and C, iron, protein, mucilage).
Plantains are universally known as HEALING PLANTS, vulneraries.
The fresh leaves, cleaned with clean water are coarsely crumpled or better crushed in a mortar or in a blender.
The crumpled leaves serve as a temporary dressing.
The crushed fresh leaves can be applied directly to the skin, to soothe itching and irritation from insect bites (mosquitoes or bees) or on bruised and sore areas.
We can briefly expose the leaves to heat, then squeeze them, they give a "juice", EYE DROPS effective in treating conjunctivitis and infections of the eye.
If necessary, the drop of sap which beads at the end of a clean and freshly cut leaf can be instilled at the corner of the eye as an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial eye drops.
INFUSION - DECOCTION
About a handful of fresh leaves or 2 to 3 tablespoons of dry leaves in a quart of water, boil for one minute.
The leaf infusion-decoction is a slightly astringent, diuretic liquid.
In prolonged decoction (5 to 6 minutes), the liquid becomes more astringent but also more mucilaginous, its anti-inflammatory, anti-infectious and antispasmodic properties are increased:
- eye wash, mouthwash,
- oozing or itchy skin diseases, genital cleansing, leucorrhea, seborrheic acne,
- spasmodic coughs, bronchitis, laryngitis, tonsillitis, bronchial asthma.
The homeopathic tincture obtained from the fresh plant is generally recommended, but the alcoholic tincture obtained from the dry plants is also useful.
PHARYNGITIS : 20 to 40 drops in a glass of lukewarm water as a gargle that can be swallowed afterwards.
BRONCHIAL ASTHMA: plantain is useful in addition to a personalized treatment of asthma, it is a moderately antiallergic and antispasmodic plant and perfectly tolerated: 30 to 60 drops per day as a two-month treatment.
Note that this plant useful for asthma is also allergenic by its pollen.
The seeds, pounded and mixed with a little lukewarm water are laxative by a mucilaginous effect (5 to 20g per day with plenty of drink).
Birds appreciate plantain seeds .
A SMALL COMMON HERB FOR HEALING
Plantains are found all over the world, fresh leaf juice or decoction are helpful in speeding up healing of wounds even a little infected, calm conjunctival irritations or infections of the mouth, help calm bronchial irritation and spasmodic coughs; we can even eat them in salads.
Copyright 2021 : Dr Jean-Michel Hurtel