Plantain Power


Plantain as a herb poultice

Used as a fresh herb poultice this herb really shines. A plant we have walked over and near most of our lives. N fact one of its names is white mans footsteps. Until I used this plant as a fresh poultice its medicinal power was largely unknown to me.

When herbals talk of this plant and its ability to draw out matter or as a first aid herb usually the vital ingredient is left out.

What is this vital point ? That the herb works best when poulticed fresh.  Used as a spit poultice its easy to make and apply.  I have used it to remove  a fibreglass splinter. Having moved fibreglass  bathtubs without gloves this was bound to happen.

The next day feeding the geese I thought why not try a plantain poultice? – the herb was there right in from of me at the gate so chewing up some lives with plenty of saliva I placed the mash onto my affected finger. I then held it on and went about the morning chores. Near the pool I felt a sharp pain in this area and lo and behold one splinter removed.  Very impressive.

Next occasion was a bottom wisdom tooth. We all have wisdom tooth stories! Occasionally it becomes troublesome and the gums swell and become rather sore. I suffered for a few days then again I thought the plantain poultice. I created a sludgy ball of herb into the back area of my mouth and went about my business. It was in place for about an hour then I got sick of it an spat it out. There was noticeable relief that day and then the next day much better and the next again. One application for under an hour. Pretty good value.

True Comfrey

Comfrey 2

Symphytum officinalis the true species.

Everyone thinks they know comfrey and can identify this plant. What is not commonly known is that most comfrey plants seen in gardens is the agricultural hybrid Symphytum uplandicum hybrid.  The botanical ID of this plant has been mightily confused due to the hybridisation program of creating the agricultural varieties.

This agricultural hybrid is actually much higher in the pyrrolizidine alkaloid (PA) compounds that have caused this plant to be restricted from internal use by the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration).

So to make a good comfrey product start with true species.  I sourced seeds from Horizon herbs in Oregon United States. Then you harvest the leaves in preference to the roots and go for the older leaves rather than the young one. Dry the leaves then you have some raw material best suited for making medicine with a low PA content.

You can make tincture (for external usage only!) or an infused oil preparation.

A good reference for comfrey information is comfrey central. Google it. I especially recommend the article by Paul Berger who puts a good perspective on the do’s and don’ts of comfrey usage.