Did you know…. Plantain (Plantago major) was referred to by Native Americans as “white man’s foot”? It was believed that the early settlers would spread it all over the countryside by catching the seeds in the cuff of their trousers and then disperse them as they walked. “According to mythology, plantain originated from a maiden who stood beside the road for so long… watching for her absent lover, that she was turned into plantain, which loves to grow along roadsides.” In Medieval Christian art, plantain symbolizes the well-trodden path of the multitudes that sought Christ.
Plantain had been used in the time of Pliney and perhaps earlier, for broken skin and wounds. It is referred to in English literature by “Romeo”. It is known to have been used by some cultures as early as the 9 Century. The entire plant has many uses. It has antibacterial, astringent, diuretic and expectorant properties. It can soothe irritated mucous membranes and help stop bleeding. Internally, it has been used for everything from asthma to gastritis and diarrhea. Externally, poultices are used for hemorrhoids, minor wounds & ringworm to insect stings/bites and varicose veins.
In parts of America, the plant is known as “snakeweed” because it’s highly regarded remedy for poisonous bites or stings. I understand it has been used in cases of allergic reactions to bites/stings and could help to prevent anaphylactic shock.
While there are three different types of plantain (Plantago lanceolata, Plantago major & Plantago media) found commonly throughout North America and England, do not confuse it with the edible “Plantain Banana” (Musa acuminate, Musa paradisiaca).
Plantain is ruled by Libra which symbolizes Justice and Balance. “Justice is the appreciation and understanding of the laws of Nature. When we are in harmony with these laws… we are protected in all ways. When we are not… pain and discomfort arise. Through work and action, we can cultivate health for body / mind / spirit… by the choices we make.”
Maybe part of Plantain’s lesson is that too many of us “stand by the roadside” instead of venturing forward and taking control of our lives. Or could it be that in order for us to heal ourselves and the Earth, we need to get out and “spread the seeds” of information and affirmations.
I believe I’ve chosen the latter.
1. The Modern Herbal Primer by Nancy Burke and Editors of the Old Farmers Almanac
2. The Herb Book by John Lust
3. The Spirit of Herbs by Michael Tierra
This article is for informational purposes only.