Herbs for Hens: Plantain Soothing Salve

Plantain is a perennial herb (considered a weed by many!) found nearly worldwide in lawns, fields and the woods. Edible for humans and animals alike, it can be eaten fresh/raw, used in salads or cooked much the same as spinach. It's high in calcium and iron, as well as Vitamin B1 and riboflavin.  Our chickens and ducks love it, picked fresh from the woods or yard. In fact, I have a hard time finding some leaves that haven't already been nibbled on!

Plantain has so many beneficial properties, both when ingested and when used as a topical poultice or salve by people or animals. (I have a tin of plantain salve in my chicken first aid kit as a substitute for Neosporin in case anyone gets a cut or splinter. )

I also make sure I pick lots of fresh plantain for the chickens and ducks to munch on as a healthy treat. There are tons of varieties, but the most common in our area is this broad-leaf plantain with the telltale vertical veining. There is also a narrow-leaf variety that we see sometimes.

Health benefits of Plantain when taken Internally

*cough suppressant
*aids in respiratory health
*supports healthy mucus membranes
*seeds are thought to be a natural wormer
*source of fiber and psyllium (laxative)

Health benefits of Plantain applied Externally

*stops bleeding
*aids in healing wounds
*takes the itch out of bug bites or stings (spider, bee, mosquito), rashes and poison ivy, oak or sumac
*helps relieve sunburn
*pulls venom/toxin from snake bites
*pulls out slivers, splinters and thorns

To Make a Plantain Poultice

Chop (or preferably chew) fresh plantain leaves after rinsing them off to clean them. Place the leaves over the wound, splinter or sting. Hold in place with a cloth or gauze dressing. Replace as needed as the leaves dry out. For use on people and animals.

Soothing Plantain Salve 
(for people and animals)

1/4 Cup chopped plantain leaves
1/4 Cup olive oil
1  Tablespoon coconut oil  (I get mine here)
1 teaspoon sweet almond oil  (I get mine here)
1 Tablespoon beeswax pastilles (I get mine here)
3 drops liquid Vitamin E (I get mine here)
3 drops peppermint essential oil - optional for fragrance (I get mine here)

Stir plantain leaves into the oils in a small saucepan. Heat 30-90 minutes over low heat until the liquid is bright green. Strain, squeezing the liquid out of the leaves. Return to low heat and add the beeswax. Heat, stirring occasionally, until melted. Remove from heat and stir in Vitamin E. Pour into a small covered container. Apply to stings, rashes, cuts, insect bites or poison ivy as needed. Store in a cool place.

Slow Method Note: alternatively you can combine the leaves and oils in a covered mason jar and leave it for several weeks, shaking a few times a week. Then strain and continue as above once the oil has been sufficiently infused.

Plantain is one of my favorite weeds! Head outside and see if you can find some growing on your property. Just be sure whatever you pick hasn't be treated with herbicides or pesticides.


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