Ribwort Plantain *plantago lanceolata*

Ribwort Plantain and Plantain (not the banana potato kind) are common ‘weeds’ many of us can recognise easily. As a plant ally, she offers a multitude of healing uses. I am often surprised that more people don’t know and use it more regularly these days.

There are a few different types of plantain. For this article I will be focusing on Ribwort as it is the one most abundant in my area. *Plantago major* is the other common one. The two are interchangeable in use.

A Background

Easy to identify with their fuzzy ‘ribbed’ leaves and otherworldly looking flower heads; Plantain was encouraged and highly valued by our ancestors.

Native Americans called it ‘white man’s footstep’ as it seemed to spring up wherever the settlers/invaders went. They soon recognised its uses as a healing plant and food source too. The seeds are spread through wind and also the soles of shoes and tyres. The Latin name Plantago actually refers to the sole of the foot and this method of propagation is common among many, many plants.

Medicinal Uses

This is going to be a long list as our friend Ribwort has so much to give. It can be used both internally and externally.

Not recommended for use in pregnancy or when breastfeeding but safe for external use in children. I haven’t found much evidence either way for internal use in children so please be responsible, do your own research. I’m a witch not a doctor. On that note: Plantain is not recommended if you’re on any anti-coagulants and as ever, if you’re on any other medication there may be interactions so again, speak to your GP.

Right that’s the warnings out of the way…(use your common sense, be safe bitches!)

External Uses

The ‘ribs’

I’ve always know Ribwort as ‘nature’s plaster’ it has all the ‘anti’s’ (anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral) due to the Tannins and Iridoids it contains. This makes it useful for soothing and healing just about any external complaints. The most common way I use it is as a poultice and added to balms and salves. When out and about a ‘spit poultice’ works wonders: chew up some leaves and apply to a wound. I know, it sounds gross. The human mouth is DIRTY but, needs must sometimes. Here’s a list of some external uses:

  • Ribwort has drawative properties so helps extract stings and splinters.
  • It aids coagulation so staunches (stops) bleeding. Obviously if you’ve chopped your arm off you might want to take other action but for everyday injuries, Ribwort is your friend.
  • It cools and soothes so good for burns, inflammation, bites and stings as well as sore injuries like sprains and strains (I’d also suggest comfrey).
  • Can clean up an angry wound. Again, if you have sepsis, go to a hospital!
  • An antidote to nettle stings. Dock leaves actually have a placebo affect which is great but if you can find ribwort use that instead.

Internal Uses

My hayfever relief

Ribwort can be used internally either eaten (the older leaves are very bitter mind)- its high in vitamins A, C and K, or brewed in a tisane/tea or tincture. Ribwort has astringent, soothing (for the gut), detoxifying, decongestant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, and expectorant properties. It can be used for:

  • Hayfever and glue ear- it depresses mucose secretion and the mucilage protects from mucose infection.
  • Clears heat and toxins so good for a fever.
  • Helps with regular bowl movements it is known to ease diarrhoea and conversely, constipation (the seeds are a laxative)
  • Soothes piles
  • Eases eczema and psoriasis symptoms (I make a balm for this too but as eczema starts in the gut; internal use is doubley effective)

Magical Uses

Ribwort is associated with Venus so good for love, (particularly self love), affection and romance spells. This could also included loving friendships.

In sympathetic magic it’s powerful healing attributes shine through. Add to mojo bags or as a powder for all forms of healing, particularly in healing relationships.

So there you are: Ribwort, a useful healing plant ally for inside and out. I use it in just about everything. It’s great to identify when camping just incase you need some minor first aid or relief from hayfever (I crush it up and add it to my water bottle for a cold infusion, tastes a bit green, goes great with mint 😉)

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Happy foraging. Peace out witches ✌️

Love Kate xxx


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