Plantago major. See the broad leaves? Does it look familiar?? Found thing along the roadside the other day. The leaves are beautiful and uneaten by bugs, but I wouldn't pick it because of car pollution.
You know I'm a soap maker, salve maker, and more. But you may not know that I've been talking classes from Heart of Herbs to become a Certified Herbalist. We've been using herbs at home for health and healing (and in business) for about 6 years now so it seems like a natural progression to finally pursue my certification. Ultimately, I'd love to grow (and possibly sell) medicinal herbs. But, I don't think people know that they have wondrous medicinal herbs growing in their yard right now and they don't have to plant a single thing! And that is what 'wildcrafting' is all about; gathering wild plants in a careful, responsible, and respectful manner. (*note: in our modern world we need to be cautious where we gather. Don't collect plants from areas which have been sprayed, from roadsides polluted by traffic, or from areas with lots of garbage or debris. Don't gather more than you can use immediately. Never gather more than 10% of a stand. Animals and other people might need it, too!)
So let me introduce this week's spotlighted herb: PLANTAIN (Plantago major or Plantago lanceolatus )
*the common name is first, the Latin botanical name is second (in italics). The Latin name is what botanists world-wide would recognize.
HABITAT: In a word? Everywhere. Along the roadside, cracks in the sidewalk, your backyard, the park, meadows. It's so widespread that Round-up features Plantain on it's website as an annual garden weed. It's not a weed! It's a medicinal herb! (I won't list all the reasons not to spray your lawn)
PART USED: Leaves
WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? Traditionally, Plantain has been used for insect bites and stings, soothing irritated skin, healing minor burns, to stop bleeding (not major wounds). *remember, if you have a serious burn or a large wound - please, use common sense and seek medical treatment!.
HOW TO USE IT: Poultices and infused oils. To make a simple poultice for a sting or bite, chew up the leaves and place over the sting or bite. That's it! A poultice is mashed up leaves, cover in hot water to form sort of paste. The warm paste is applied to the wound and covered with a dry bandage. (we only use the poultice for bug bites. I wouldn't use it hot on a burn!) Once it cools, it can be removed. Infused oils can also be applied to the wound and covered with a bandage (or band-aid). We use this all the time. There's more about infused oils at the end of the post.
FRESH OR DRY? Either one. You may use it fresh in a poultice. (or dry if that's what you have stored) I always let my plant material dry a day or two at the very least before starting an infused oil. If the plant material contains too much water, the infused oil can mold! Trust me. I know. (and it's gross and wastes an entire jar of infused oil!!) You can either hang the herb to dry or lay flat in a basket. Just keep it in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.
Want to know more about plantain? Visit Botanical.com
Herb Infused Oils
Here's a bit of an introduction to making infused oils if you have never given it a try. (It's a simple process. Promise!)
It’s the the process of imparting the God-given qualities of herbs into oil (I usually use olive oil), making it easier to use the herb to get the benefits (this is a great process for healing herbs, particularly ones that will be applied to your skin).
1) take your clean, dry herb and crush or cut into a pieces
2) place herb in a clean jar
3) fill jar with oil (typically olive oil) almost to the top (completely covering the herbs)
4) cap and shake
5) sit on a sunny window sill for 2-4 weeks, shaking at least once a day
6) after 2-4 weeks, strain the herbs out (discard the herbs) and save the oil
7) store the oil in a glass jar in a cool, dark place (cupboard)
8) oil will remain good for about a year
This is a good description of the procedure for Solar Herb Infused Oils.
So. There you go. Simple, right?? Let me know if you give it a try!!