Granted he's not the child most known in this house for enduring any amount of pain patiently, but even I could tell the morning's shrieking from outside meant something really did hurt. Thank God it was just a wasp sting. He was crying something fierce, though. I first tried some raw honey but without effect. Then it was some ice with still no relief. Then I thought to have my oldest run out to the yard for some plantain.
What is plantain? Well, if you have a yard that is not chemically treated, you would probably recognize it and you more than likely have a lot of it right in your very own yard. Plantain is a common weed but a very VERY handy weed. It looks like this:
My oldest brought in a large leaf of it and I crushed it up enough to get a tiny bit of the juice inside released. (You can also chew it a little bit to help but I didn't do that this time.) Then as my little guy still wailed, I put it directly on the sting site. Silence. Immediately. I kept the little poultice on the wound and covered it with a bandaid. There wasn't a peep from then on. This plantain stuff is pretty great. A happy little gift from above, I would say. It can be found in nearly every unsprayed lawn and playground and due to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties, it can be a very handy weed to know, especially for moms. Not only do you provide immediate relief for someone in pain but you get to look like a super crunchy Ma Ingalls type and impress the heck out of your friends. Or just give them another reason to think you're ding-a-ling crazy.
Eight Uses for Plantain:
-Relief for insect or spider bites and stings (even mosquitoes!)
This is its most common, well known use. Simply crush or chew the leaf and apply right to the site. Sprays can also be made to keep on hand.
-Any type of skin rash or irritation
I'll be using a plantain infusion in my next batch of herbal healing salve but you can use it directly, the same way as you would a bite or sting.
-Poison ivy/oak/sumac treatment
Used in salves or spray form to alleviate the burn and itch of these obnoxious ailments.
The leaves are completely edible and supposedly taste like spinach but a bit more bitter. Disclaimer: Haven't tried this yet! Like spinach, plantain is high in vitamin C, iron, and calcium and is milder tasting when the leaves are small.
Dried plantain can be used as a tea and is purported to alleviate heartburn and indigestion, as well as being a source for iron and extra vitamins. Simply dry, crush and steep in steaming water!**
-In the bath
I've seen plantain as an ingredient in postpartum herb bath recipes and I plan to dry some to use in my postpartum herbal bath tea next time I make it for someone. The anti-inflammatory properties would be helpful for a sore postpartum mama!
-Treatment for Colds?
WebMD says that plantain can be taken for colds as it decreases mucous production. (Hmm...that might have a secondary use for those whose NFP charts are a bit yellow...you NFP people know what I'm talkin' about...)
-Other Possible Uses...
WebMD also states it can be used to treat bronchitis, bladder infections, hemorrhoids, and eye irritation. Huh. Who knew?
**Be careful taking it in concentrated form (i.e. tea or in pill form) if you are pregnant. Some sites are saying it can stimulate the uterus...check with your care provider, please!
Baby plantain leaves recently chopped by the mower.
Our excuse to let our lawn go feral. Also: Lazy.
Can you spot it?
And now you know the way that a common lawn weed can help you make friends and influence people as well as have a totally valid excuse for being That Lawn in the neighborhood. Now if only I could find a use for all those dandelions... Oh, wait!