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Complementary and Alternative Medicine - Cam

Search Health Information    Plantain

Plantain

Uses

Common names:
Broadleaf Plantain, Lanceleaf Plantain, Ribwort
Botanical names:
Plantago lanceolata, Plantago major

Parts Used & Where Grown

These green, weedy plants are native to Europe and Asia, but now grow practically anywhere in the world where there is sufficient water. Plantain should not be confused with the banana-like vegetable of the same name. The leaves of plantain are primarily used as medicine. The seeds of plantain can also be used medicinally, having mild laxative effects similar to the seeds of psyllium , a close relative of plantain.

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for Why
2 Stars
Bronchitis
3 cups tea daily made from 1/4 to 1/2 tsp dried herb per cup
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Anti-inflammatory herbs may help people with bronchitis. Often these herbs contain complex polysaccharides and have a soothing effect; they are also known as demulcents. Plantain is a demulcent that has been documented in two preliminary trials conducted in Bulgaria to help people with chronic bronchitis.3 , 4 Other demulcents traditionally used for people with bronchitis include mullein, marshmallow , and slippery elm . Because demulcents can provoke production of more mucus in the lungs, they tend to be used more often in people with dry coughs.5

1 Star
Burns
Refer to label instructions
[1 star] Learn More

Calendula cream may be applied to minor burns to soothe pain and help promote tissue repair. It has been shown in animal studies to be anti-inflammatory6 and to aid repair of damaged tissues.7 The cream is applied three times per day. Plantain is regarded as similar to calendula in traditional medicine, though usually the whole leaf is applied directly to the burn as a poultice.

1 Star
Cough
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The mucilage of slippery elm gives it a soothing effect for coughs. Usnea also contains mucilage, which may be helpful in easing irritating coughs. There is a long tradition of using wild cherry syrups to treat coughs. Other traditional remedies to relieve coughs include bloodroot , catnip , comfrey (the above-ground parts, not the root), horehound , elecampane , mullein , lobelia , hyssop , licorice , mallow , (Malvia sylvestris), red clover , ivy leaf , pennyroyal  (Hedeoma pulegioides, Mentha pulegium), onion , (Allium cepa), and plantain (Plantago lanceolata, P. major). None of these has been investigated in human trials, so their true efficacy for relieving coughs is unknown.

1 Star
Dermatitis
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[1 star] Learn More
Plantain has long been considered by herbalists to be a useful remedy for cough, wounds, inflamed skin or dermatitis, and insect bites.8
1 Star
Insect Bites and Stings
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[1 star] Learn More
Plantain has long been considered by herbalists to be a useful remedy for cough, wounds, inflamed skin or dermatitis, and insect bites.9 Plantain is approved by the German Commission E as topical use for skin inflammations.10 The fresh leaves can be applied directly three or four times per day to minor injuries, dermatitis, and insect stings.11
1 Star
Peptic Ulcer
Refer to label instructions
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Because of the anti-inflammatory and healing effects of plantain , it may be beneficial in some people with peptic ulcer. Clinical trials have not been done to confirm this possibility.

1 Star
Urinary Tract Infection
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Because of the anti-inflammatory effects of plantain , it may be beneficial in some people with UTIs. However, human trials have not been done to confirm this possibility or to confirm the traditional belief that plantain is diuretic.12

1 Star
Wound Healing
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[1 star] Learn More

Traditional herbalists sometimes recommend the topical use of herbs such as St. John’s wort , calendula , chamomile , and plantain , either alone or in combination, to speed wound healing. Clinical trial in humans have not yet validated this traditional practice.

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

Plantain has long been considered by herbalists to be a useful remedy for cough , wounds , inflamed skin or dermatitis, and insect bites.1 Bruised or crushed leaves have been applied topically to treat insect bites and stings, eczema , and small wounds or cuts. It was considered by herbalists to be a gentle, soothing expectorant, and additionally to have a mild astringent effect said to help remedy hemorrhoids or bladder infections with mild amounts of blood in the urine.2

How It Works

Common names:
Broadleaf Plantain, Lanceleaf Plantain, Ribwort
Botanical names:
Plantago lanceolata, Plantago major

How It Works

The major constituents in plantain are mucilage, iridoid glycosides (particularly aucubin), and tannins. Together these constituents are thought to give plantain mild anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antihemorrhagic, and expectorant actions.13 , 14 Plantain is approved by the German Commission E for internal use to ease coughs and mucous membrane irritation associated with upper respiratory tract infections as well as topical use for skin inflammations.15 Two Bulgarian clinical trials have suggested that plantain may be effective in the treatment of chronic bronchitis .16 , 17 Insufficient details were provided in these reports to determine the quality of the trials or their findings. Although plantain was thought to possess diuretic properties, one double-blind trial failed to show any diuretic effect for this plant.18 A preliminary trial found that topical use of a plantain ointment (10% ground plantain in a base of petroleum jelly) was helpful as part of the treatment of people with impetigo and ecthyma, two inflammatory skin disorders.19 Insufficient details were provided in this report, however, to determine the quality of the study or its findings.

How to Use It

The German Commission E recommends using 1/4–1/2 teaspoon (1–3 grams) of the leaf daily in the form of tea made by steeping the herb in 1 cup (250 ml) of hot water for 10–15 minutes (making three cups (750 ml ) per day).20 The fresh leaves can be applied directly three or four times per day to minor injuries, dermatitis, and insect stings.21 Syrups or tinctures, approximately 1/2 teaspoon (2–3 ml) three times per day, can also be used, particularly to treat a cough .22 Finally, 1/2–1 1/4 teaspoons (2–6 grams) of the fresh plant can be juiced and taken in three evenly divided oral administrations throughout the day.23

Interactions

Common names:
Broadleaf Plantain, Lanceleaf Plantain, Ribwort
Botanical names:
Plantago lanceolata, Plantago major

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.

Interactions with Medicines

As of the last update, we found no reported interactions between this supplement and medicines. It is possible that unknown interactions exist. If you take medication, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

Side Effects

Common names:
Broadleaf Plantain, Lanceleaf Plantain, Ribwort
Botanical names:
Plantago lanceolata, Plantago major

Side Effects

Plantain is not associated with any common side effects and is thought to be safe for children.24 There is no information available about its use by pregnant or nursing women, though topical application appears to be safe. Adulteration of plantain with digitalis leading to dangerous side effects has been reported in Switzerland and the United States.25 Although rare, it points to the need for consumers to purchase herbs from companies that carefully test their herbal products for adulteration.

References

1. Weiss RF. Meuss AR (trans). Herbal Medicine. Gothenberg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd., 1985, 198–9.

2. Hoffmann D. The New Holistic Herbal, 3rd ed. Shaftesbury, Dorset, UK: Element, 1990, 224.

3. Koichev A. Complex evaluation of the therapeutic effect of a preparation from Plantago major in chronic bronchitis. Probl Vatr Med 1983;11:61–9 [in Bulgarian].

4. Matev M, Angelova I, Koichev A, et al. Clinical trial of Plantago major preparation in the treatment of chronic bronchitis. Vutr Boles 1982;21:133–7 [in Bulgarian].

5. Mills S, Bone K. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2000, 209.

6. Della Loggia R, Tubaro A, Sosa S, et al. The role of triterpenoids in the topical anti-inflammatory activity of Calendula officinalis flowers. Planta Medica 1994;60:516–20.

7. Patrick KFM, Kumar S, Edwardson PAD, Hutchinson JJ. Induction of vascularisation by an aqueous extract of the flowers of Calendula officinalis L the European marigold. Phytomedicine 1996;3:11–8.

8. Weiss RF. Meuss AR (trans). Herbal Medicine. Gothenberg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd., 1985, 198–9.

9. Weiss RF. Meuss AR (trans). Herbal Medicine. Gothenberg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd., 1985, 198–9.

10. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 186–7.

11. Weiss RF. Meuss AR (trans). Herbal Medicine. Gothenberg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd., 1985, 198–9.

12. Doan DD, Nguyen NH, Doan HK, et al. Studies on the individual and combined diuretic effects of four Vietnamese traditional herbal remedies (Zea mays, Imperata cylindrica, Plantago major and Orthosiphon stamineus). J Ethnopharmacol 1992;36:225–31.

13. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 186–7.

14. Wichtl M, Bisset N (eds). Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Stuttgart: Medpharm Scientific Publishers and Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1994, 378–81.

15. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 186–7.

16. Koichev A. Complex evaluation of the therapeutic effect of a preparation from Plantago major in chronic bronchitis. Probl Vatr Med 1983;11:61–9.

17. Matev M, Angelova I, Koichev A, et al. Clinical trial of Plantago major preparation in the treatment of chronic bronchitis. Vutr Boles 1982;21:133–7 [In Bulgarian].

18. Doan DD, Nguyen NH, Doan HK, et al. Studies on the individual and combined diuretic effects of four Vietnamese traditional herbal remedies (Zea mays, Imperata cylindrica, Plantago major and Orthosiphon stamineus). J Ethnopharmacol 1992;36:225–31.

19. Aliev RK. A wound healing preparation from the leaves of the large plantain (Plantago major L). Am J Pharm 1950;122:24–6.

20. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 186–7.

21. Weiss RF. Meuss AR (trans). Herbal Medicine. Gothenberg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd., 1985, 198–9.

22. Hoffmann D. The New Holistic Herbal, 3rd ed. Shaftesbury, Dorset, UK: Element, 1990, 224.

23. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 186–7.

24. Schilcher H. Phytotherapy in Paediatrics: Handbook for Physicians and Pharmacists. Stuttgart: Medpharm Scientific Publishers, 1997, 33.

25. Blumenthal M (ed). Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 2000, 307–10.

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