Plantain: The Pharmacy in the Sidewalks

Plantain: The Pharmacy in the Sidewalks

Plantain: The Pharmacy in the Sidewalks

Every spring, summer, and fall you can find this little plant right there in the cracks of the sidewalk, mixed in with the dandelions and somehow always staying alive no matter how many times it gets stepped on.

Those are the Plantains, both the Broadleaf and the Lance, though their habit of growing wild in the American colonies earned them the name of “White Man’s Footprint”. It is these two leafy herbs with their spear like stalks rising up above them that you may want to take a moment to spare from your annual weed spray or trimmer this year and instead add them to your pantry or First Aid kit, and here’s why:

1. Can I eat it?


Yes! In fact you can eat this plant! Though if you wish to dice yourself up a salad using the leaves it’s recommended that you harvest them while they are young as the leaves get tough and fibrous the older they get. But either way they are a great source of calcium and vitamin A.

Plus, as a bonus for all those out there suffering with digestive issues, either from prolonged use of anti-inflammatory, analgesic, or antibiotics our leafy friend as the right stuff to help soothe and heal the irritation. Finally, if you wish to take the time to gather them the seeds located on the stalks of the plant can be used as a flour substitute for those with a Gluten allergy.

2. This bug bite REALLY itches!

bite itch
via flickr

Did someone forget their mosquito repellent and become the bug’s personal smorgasbord? Take a leaf, grind it up, and place the poultice on top of the bite and let the astringent nature of the herb suck out the toxin for immediate relief. But it doesn’t stop there as its properties extend to rashes and skin disorders, acne and infection from slivers and glass splinters.

Simply apply the ointment and cover it with a clean and soft cloth, preferably cotton, and leave for four to twelve hours for results.

3. I hate being sick.

 cup of tea
via flickr

Make yourself a nice cup of tea using the leaves of a plantain and let the natural expectorant contained within it help you get over that cold, ease that cough and help sooth that lung disorder.

4. I cut myself shaving

shaving cut throat

A final, but handy use for that “weed” growing out of that crack in your concrete is to use its styptic properties and apply it to that nasty cut to ease the bleeding before you put a bandage on. Plus a bit of this in your diet not only conveys the bonuses listed above but also help take the edge off of a woman’s menstruation by slowing down the blood flow.

Not a bad list of benefits to come from a plant that most think nothing of tearing up out of the ground and tossing away is it? So next time you come across one of these little guys popping up where you wish they wouldn’t go ahead and pull it up, but save it from the waste bin and give some of the above properties a try!

5. Treatment of All Blood Diseases, and Nearly All Other Diseases

Blood Diseases

“Plantain is almost a panacea for the human body, treating everything from all menstrual difficulties, all digestive issues, to nearly all skin complaints, and even arthritis,” claims Life Advancer about the amazing healing potential of plantain.

To be on the up and up, there seems to be very few health conditions that plantain can’t treat. According to The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, written by Dr. Finley Ellingwood, MD, in 1919, plantain is effective against virtually all blood diseases, diarrheal conditions, female disorders, injuries, bites and rashes on the skin, many glandular diseases and mercury poisoning.

To sum up, simply use this miracle whenever you can: “add it to salads, chew to ease thirst, or enjoy it in stir fries. This versatile wild vegetable will keep you healthy and satisfied for years to come!”


  1. I am 65 years old and as a child, remember my mom using this on us kids for rashes, infections etc… She told me that she learned of it uses from her grandmother around 1920. All this time I thought of it as a remedy that came from Poland.
    I continue to use it and suggest others do the same when the Dr. stuff isn’t working.

  2. As a child I stepped on a nail while visiting my grandmother. The puncture wound turned red & started to swell. Grandma gathered plantain leaves. put them in a piece of cheesecloth and boiled them. When it cooled a little bit, she took the warm bundle and placed it over the puncture. As it cooled she would reheat it and put it back. After a short while, the plantain caused the area to come up to the surface, open & drain. No more infection, and it healed up without any scars.

  3. When I was 10 I fell in the school yard and a Piece of glass as well as gravel cut into my hand. My parents took me to the ER .The Dr succeeded in removing the gravel but could not get the glass just pushed it deeper into my hand.
    When I visited my Great Grandma my Great Aunt went outside picked some plantain crushed it up and put on the wound. within a day or two that leaf drew the glass right to the surface. It was almost 2 inches long.

  4. Different plant, but Peach tree leaves and bark also work to draw out nasty puncture wounds. Way back in the mountains my sister stepped on a huge Rusty Nail that went in the bottom of her foot and came out the top. unable to reach hospital my great-aunt soaked my sister’s foot in this peach bark tea (winter time there were no leaves around) it healed up beautifully with no doctor involved. Some years later I stepped on a nail and while it didn’t come out the top of my foot it went deep and again my mom took my aunt’s advice and soaked me in Peach leave tea and the puncture healed up with no infection.

  5. I was recently stung by a hornet. I picked a plantain leaf and smashed it up with my fingernail. I the rubbed it on the sting and with in a minute the stinging stopped.

  6. My son got stung by a bee while playing outside. His hand swelled and turned red. It stayed this way for 3 days. Our chiropractor told us to go out in the yard and pick 4-5 plantain leaves and boil them in a small saucepan with about a cup of water, let it cool, soak some gauze in the liquid and wrap his hand in the gauze and cover with a plastic bag and leave it overnight. The next morning the swelling and the redness were both gone. We have used this for stings and rashes ever since and it has worked for us every time.