Broadleaf plantain (Plantago major) is commonly found on disturbed soils. It is known as a “camp follower” brought to the North American continent by migrating peoples. The species is native to most of Europe and northern to central Asia. Our ancestors knew of the medicinal gifts of these plants. It’s kind of interesting that so many plants with highly versatile medicinal properties have naturalized and flourished in our country are now called “weeds” in disdain. I easily found it in the front yard of my daughter’s home. Lots of it. Although Broadleaf Plantain can be found where I live, the abundant numbers of them here in the City made my eyes pop. Wow! Look at all of them!
It is an interesting fact that Plantain is one of the most powerful, abundant and widely distributed medicinal plants in the world (Wikipedia). It is one of THE MOST studied medicinal plants in modern research literature. No kidding! Investigations into the healing compounds present in the plantain leaf and its seed have been published in 4400+ research articles. What is known about this plant is that it has been used widely since ancient times for its antibiotic, antiviral and anti-inflammatory gifts. The juice of the plant has been effective in treating everything from cancerous tumors to epileptic seizures and earache. Tea made from the plantain has been used as a wash for many eye diseases, as a gargle for toothache, mouth sores, loose teeth, gingivitis and tonsillitis. The tea was also used for asthma, tuberculosis, lung and plural lesions and was even burned as a healing incense. Other illnesses helped by eating the leaf extract or baking the leaves with salt and vinegar included upper and lower gastrointestinal bleeding, dysentery, hemorrhoids, stomachache, intestinal ulcers. Constipation has been treated using the leaf extract in an enema.
Now, that’s just a few of its medicinal qualities … this plant seems to be a One-stop shop for most first aid needs. Current research studies of Broadleaf plantain has shown that hot water extracts can help to improve leukemia, carcinoma and viral infections. Some types of Plantain extracts were effective in the treatment of fungal, bacterial and viral infections. Anti-malarial and anti-Giardia effects of plant have been proven as well. What CAN’T THIS PLANT DO? It’s no wonder that our ancestors carried its seed with them on their migrations!
When harvesting the leaves of plantain, you will notice the strong, ropey veins on the back of the leaf. As a matter of fact, when you pull off a leaf, you will see that it is hard to tear off due to the strong thread-like filaments present in each vein. The purpose of these filaments is a mechanical one. They protect the leaf from physical stresses found in the environment. They give the leaves greater strength to reduce fracturing under pressure and resist against deformation.
When looking at the plant, I compare these filaments to the spiritual quality of Inner Strength, the source of which is located deep within the Soul. Everyone is born with the capacity for Inner Strength and it can be strengthened through our response to environmental stressors. Environmental stress can trigger us to feel fear, reveal our preconceived expectations of a situation, and even clarify our hope and Vision. Inner Strength is the ability to Stand in Courage when confronted with our own fears, our sense of failure, or even a perceived weakness due to lack if Self esteem. It is the Inner Support we give ourselves to believe in our capabilities and to develop Trust in our feelings and intuition in any given situation. Inner Strength is something we summon on a daily basis …. or perhaps moment by moment when under momentary or chronic duress.
Broadleaf Plantain’s gifts reminds me to be versatile. That I have the ability to bring healing into many situations and places. It teaches me to “hold on” when personal fears and doubts emerge from environmental stressors. It mirrors my own internal qualities of Inner Strength that I can call upon to approach situations that are sometimes out of my personal ability to control…..
Blessings abound from this plant, indeed!