|Plantain - Plantago major|
Recently I was doing some research online regarding insect bites and nettle stings, and natural ways to relieve or stop the itching and pain associated with them. I seem to be one of those unfortunate people who are eaten alive every time I venture outside in the summer months, especially after 5pm.
Post 5 o'clock is dinner time for the midges here in South Galway, and then you have those special Irish mosquitoes who are always ravenous when it's BBQ o'clock. They must lurk at the bottom of our field in the lush swamp, protected by the EC SAC laws - European Special Area of Conservation, ready to swarm up the garden as the clock strikes 5 and we are looking forward to eating a romantic dinner for two outside - lucky mosquitoes !
If you are anything like me, then you are tasty food for all biting insects. My skin obviously has that certain taste and smell that they are looking for. I am sushi for mosquitoes...
So, what can you do when you find yourself sprouting red swollen lumps in places which no well brought up young lady likes to mention, which itch uncontrollably, look unladylike ugly, and are painful as well. Some insect bites contain poison which travels well beyond the site of the original bite, making things far worse. I end up wanting to rip my arm off, or foot, or somewhere unmentionable... Now you need look no further !
I have been reading about Plantain. No, not the banana like fruit that is great sliced and deep fried, but a very plain little plant that grows across Ireland, the UK, Europe and even in North America, Asia, Australia and well beyond.
The common broad leaved plantain is a perennial weed which thrives almost anywhere. Just be sure, if you are gathering them for medicinal use, or for food, use a source away from weedkillers, pesticides, traffic and such.
Why it is So Useful:
The chemicals in Plantain which make it so incredibly useful, are aucubin, an anti microbial, mucilage, which reduces pain etc, and allantoin, which stimulates cell growth and regeneration.
Draws out stings and poison from bites - rub leaves onto and bind on skin
Skin healer - skin ulcers, inflammation, minor burns, sores and hot skin etc - bruise leaves and hold on skin
Leaves can stop minor bleeding when bruised and held on skin
Bruise leaves to form a poultice for above also...
Prevents infection in wounds also
Tea made from the leaves can ease diarrhoea and soothe internal surfaces
Full of vitamins A, C and K, as well as calcium - highly nutritious
The young leaves can be used raw in salads or sandwiches
Older leaves can be stewed or boiled well as a vegetable or in soups
Pliny stated that it would cure the madness of dogs...