Remedies & Therapies > Medicinal Herbs & Oils

Plantain: When, Why & How to Use

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Mrs. B:

--- Quote from: redeemed on July 07, 2008, 05:53:02 PM ---Being very new to herbs, it all seems a bit overwhelming (tincture vs. salve...differing recipes...), but exciting, too! My biggest question is about heating the plantain--
I've read you can let it soak in water or alcohol for a couple weeks and press it out, but you can also cook it in vaseline or beeswax. Won't the heat destroy some/all of it's properties?

--- End quote ---
When you "cook" it you don't bring it to a real high temperature; you wouldn't boil the herb... my salves tend to be around 180 degrees for anywhere from 2-4 hours if done on the stovetop.
Also think of it as being like a tea... you heat the water to release the herbal properties from the plant and put it into the water to drink...
Heating the herb in an oil to make a salve draws out the properties of the herb, and doesn't destroy these properties.  This way the herbal properties are transferred into the oil and can then be more readily utilized and absorbed into the skin.

I was asked how to make plantain salve, so I decided to post it here for future reference:

Plantain Salve

It is a very useful, all purpose skin healer for insect bites, poison ivy, etc.  The plantain speeds circulation to the area, and is anti-inflammatory.  We have noticed that it quickly erases the pain, itching, and swelling from all kinds of insect bites and stings, as well as poisonous plant encounters. 

Here is how I make my plantain salve. 

What you’ll need:
A small saucepan
Small jars or tins with lids to pour your finished salve into
The herbs listed below (dried or fresh both work well)
Olive oil (Vaseline can be used, but we prefer a natural oil to a petroleum based product)

Beeswax -this hardens the oil into a salve consistency…the olive oil works just fine without it, but the harder salve is less messy, which we like.
Lavender oil (as a preservative)

3/4 c. Plantain (you can also add complimentary herbs...Comfrey and Burdock are great skin healing herbs as well...use equal parts of each herb to yeild a total of 3/4 cup of herbs)
1 c. Olive oil
1/4 c. Beeswax
35 drops Lavender oil (optional: speeds healing and acts as a natural preservative)
2 small or 1 large fresh aloe leaves, scraped (optional: speeds healing, cools and soothes irritated skin)

If using fresh herbs, rinse them off and coarsely chop them.  Mix herbs and olive oil.  (reserving aloe and lavender for later)

Stir the herbs down into the oil, and turn on the heat to very low*. 

Keep the heat low, and allow to cook until the herbs are dry and crispy looking and the oil is dark green.  This may take anywhere from one to three hours. 

Pour your herb mix through a strainer into a larger heat proof bowl**. Press the herbs with the back of a spoon to extract all the oil you can, then discard the herbs.  **I use my glass mixing bowl so that I can see how many cups I made, as I have a tendancy to just dump stuff in and not measure. 

Grate in 1/4 c of beeswax per cup of olive oil mix, and let it melt into the warm salve.  Stir until it melts, then stick your spoon in the fridge for a minute to check consistency.  If your mix is too mushy, then add more grated beeswax and melt in, testing again.  If it is solid enough, then mix in the aloe and lavender oil (5 drops per ounce of oil), and pour into your containers. 

Some other tips:
Jot down any notes on your recipe as you go, or as soon as you’re done: your methods, changes, measurements, and total yield and note any changes you’d like to make for next time. 
Label and date all of your containers. 
We like to store ours in the fridge, as we like it to be cold. 
I have used Altoids or old candle tins, or mini plastic containers from the dollar tree to put the salve into.  I have also considered adding in more beeswax, and using a chapstick container for a travel version for my purse. 
You can make pretty labels with instructions for use if you'd like...I end up giving a lot of it away...and it's always much appreciated!


* Crock Pot Method: If your stove won’t co-operate with very low temps, you may alternately use the following crock pot method of making a salve.  It will take longer, but it works just as well.  Fill a glass canning jar with your herbs and oil.  Place a folded washcloth or kitchen towel into the bottom of your crockpot.  Put your glass jar in on top of the towel. Fill your crock pot with water, so your jar is sitting in a ‘bath’.  Turn it on low heat.  Allow it to cook at a very low simmer.  You can let it go overnight, or up to a couple of days, until the herbs are crispy and the oil is dark green.  Continue with recipe above.

And here are some links that I've found to be helpful.

Gwen’s Plantain Salve,289.msg204365.html#msg204365

Q&A on salve making with Shoshanna,8494.msg118843.html#msg118843

Bulk Herb Store “Poison Ivy on the Run Oil” recipe:

Bulk Herb Store “Simple Green Plantain Salve” recipe:

Lady of the Wood:
Is plantain used for burns? My friend got a burn from a campfire and I put plantain oil on it and it started stinging. now I know that St. John's wort is better for burns. :) Thank you in advance!

-Lady of the Wood


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