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Plantain - Plantago major L.

Plaintain Plantago major L. is a bright green, large-leaved perennial belonging to the Plantaginaceae family that has been around for around 4,000 years. It is a native plant found throughout Asia, Europe, and America, as well as almost all parts of Iran. There are currently around 275 different species of Plantago that have been identified globally. The earliest known record of plantain was found in "Materia Medica", or "Hashayesh", written in Arabic. This account was written by a Greek botanist known as Pedanius Dioscorides (40-90 AD). Soon later, herbs were then introduced into Islamic medical schools where discussions included the temperament, habitat, indications, contraindications, duration of action, effectiveness, toxicity, dosage, types of preparations, and the side effects of various herbs, including plantain. In traditional medicine, the use of plantain mucilage is used as a binder in the process of producing "habb" or tablets.

Plantain is also a botanical with a snippet history linked to Shakespeare. Plantain is mentioned in the play "Romeo and Juliet" in Act I, Scene II (1592-1609).

Romeo: Your plantain leaf is excellent for that.

Benvoleo: For what, I pray thee?

Romeo: For your broken shin.

The Romans took advantage of using "Plantago" to arrest the fluxes known by the Greeks as "rheumatismi" or "griping pains in the bowels".

Galen, a Greek physician, and philosopher who influenced the medical theory and practice from the Middle Ages to mid-17th century described plantain leaves and roots as an astringent, febrifuge, beneficial for intestinal inflammation, intestinal ulcers, piles, as well as being used as a styptic.

Common Name: Plantain

Latin Name: Plantago major L.

Family: Plantaginaceae

Usage Forms: capsules, pills, coated pills, tablets, dragee, extracts, infusions, lotion, ointment, compress, and as a poultice.

Flavors: the leaf is bland and slightly bitter to the taste. The seeds are also bland, but slightly sweet.

Chemical Constituents: flavonoids, terpenoids, lipids, iridoid glycosides, phenylethanoid glycosides, alkaloids, triterpenoids, phenolic acids, and other compounds including alkaloids, caffeic acid derivatives, coumarins, fats and oils, mucilage, polysaccharides, sterols, and volatile substances.

Therapeutic Properties: analgesic, antibiotic, anticancer, antidiabetic, anti-diarrheal, antidiarrhoeal, antifungal, anti-giardia, anti-infective, anti-inflammatory, antimalarial, antimicrobial, antinociceptive, antioxidant, anti ulcerative, anti-urticaria, antiviral, astringent, cytotoxic activity, demulcent, diuretic, dyspeptic conditions, expectorant, gastroprotective, hepatoprotective, hypoglycemic, immune system stimulant, inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract, laxative, vulnerary.

Therapeutic Uses: acute urticaria, asthma, atherosclerosis, bleeding (seed is more useful, especially if it has been roasted), bronchitis, calcium oxalate crystal stones in-vitro, cancer, colitis, constipation, coughs, cystitis accompanied by bleeding, diarrhea, endoparasites and stomach problems in animals, enteritis, fatigue, fever, fungal/bacterial/viral infections, gastritis, hemorrhoids, hepatic disorders, hypercholesteremia, improve leukemia, carcinomas, viral infections, infections, inflammation, inflammatory bowel disease, inhibits mast cell degranulation, mild, bronchitis, peptic ulcer, prevent the development of tumors and infections, soothing inflamed and sore membranes, urolithiasis, and wounds.

Traditional Persian Medicine: Plaintain has a cold and dry temperament which makes it useful for reducing inflammation and bleeding. Plaintain is considered to have both water and soil elements. A common use in TPM is for neurological issues such as epilepsy, either alone or combined with other herbs. This includes a preparation called "Adasiyyat". In TPM, it is also used to relieve earaches, eye choroid diseases, day blindness, conjunctivitis, eyesores, toothache, halitosis, oral lesions, mouth sores, epistaxis, hemoptysis, loose teeth, gingivitis, tonsillitis, hemoptysis, asthma, tuberculosis, lung and pleural lesions, upper and lower gastrointestinal bleeding, hematemesis, dysentery, hemorrhoids, stomachache, intestinal ulcers, dyspepsia, constipation, liver tonic, uterus warts, uterus ulcer, menometrorrhagia, polymenorrhea, urinary retention, hematuria, bladder and kidney pains, deep wounds, purulent wounds, chronic and progressive wounds, malignant wounds, fire burns, erysipelas, progressive blisters, pruritus, irritating urticarial, and fistulas.

Unani Medicine: The green leaves and seeds of Plantago major are considered to have astringent, analgesic, and styptic properties. They are used for nosebleeds, bloody piles, excessive menstrual bleeding, and hemoptysis. The seeds are used for their demulcent properties as a cold infusion preparation to help assist with urinary disorders, dysentery, and to aid in arresting fluxes and griping in the bowels.

Iranian Traditional Medicine: to support IBD.

Traditional Chinese Medicine: Due to the mucilage content of plantain, it is used in TCM for its diuretic effect. In addition, the use of plantain is valued in tonics for debilitating conditions such as chronic wasting dry lung diseases.

Safety/Contraindications: Avoid using plantain if you are taking blood thinners or are prone to excessive blood clotting, are taking Digoxin, or are taking Lithium. Do not consume plantain simultaneously with pharmaceutical drugs (CYP-450). Avoid use if you struggle with acid reflux. Do not use plantain if you suffer from congestive bronchial and catarrhal conditions. Do not use plantain as a substitute for curative treatments where these are available. If pregnant or nursing, it is advised to speak with a medical professional.

Adverse reactions to the use of Plantago major L. include but are not limited to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, bloating, hyper-sensitivity, and dermatitis. Life-threatening anaphylaxis may occur in more serious cases of over dose usage.


- 3-5 grams of the powdered herb; 1-3 times daily.

- 150 ml (one cupful) of infusion preparation; 3-4 times daily.

- 2-3 ml of tincture; 3 times daily.


Plantain is a wonderful herb that works great in synergy with other botanicals. Here are some herbal combinations from our good friends over at HerbRally!

To stop bleeding: Plantain leaf and yarrow. For hemorrhoids: Plantain leaf, marshmallow root, and witch hazel leaf. For poisonous plant rashes: Plantain leaf and jewelweed. For itchy bug bites: Plantain leaf, calendula, and aloe gel. For infections: plantain leaf, yellow dock, and chaparral.

For diarrhea: plantain leaf infusion with plantain seed. For constipation: yellow dock, Triphala, and plantain seed. For cystitis/UTI’s: plantain leaf, uva ursi, marshmallow root, juniper berry. For chronic urinary discomfort: plantain leaf, marshmallow root, cleavers, chickweed.

For cough/bronchitis: hot infusion of plantain leaf, Osha, elecampane, licorice, and thyme. For ulcers and digestive inflammation: Plantain leaf, slippery elm, marshmallow root, and licorice.



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Akbar, S. (2020). Handbook of 200 medicinal plants: A comprehensive review of their traditional medical uses and scientific justifications. Springer Nature.

Chiang, L., Chiang, W., Chang, M., Ng, L., & Lin, C. (2002). Antiviral activity of Plantago major extracts and related compounds in vitro. Antiviral Research, 55(1), 53-62.

Genc, Y., Dereli, F. T., Saracoglu, I., & Akkol, E. K. (2020). The inhibitory effects of isolated constituents from Plantago major subsp. major L. on collagenase, elastase and hyaluronidase enzymes: Potential wound healer. Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal, 28(1), 101-106.

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Najafian, Y., Hamedi, S. S., Kaboli Farshchi, M., & Feyzabadi, Z. (2018). Plantago major in traditional Persian medicine and modern phytotherapy: A narrative review. Electronic Physician, 10(2), 6390-6399.

Ozbek, H., Erten, R., Oner, A., Cengiz, N., Yilmaz, O., & Turel, I. (2009). Hepatoprotective and anti-inflammatory activities of Plantago major L. Indian Journal of Pharmacology, 41(3), 120.

Samuelsen, A. B. (2000). The traditional uses, chemical constituents and biological activities of Plantago major L. A review. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 71(1-2), 1-21.

Samuelsen, A. B. (2000). The traditional uses, chemical constituents and biological activities of Plantago major L. A review. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 71(1-2), 1-21.


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