It’s spring and all the new growth that Mother Earth has is beginning to appear. There are so many plants growing right next to our doorstep and are often labeled as ‘weeds’ that have healing gifts to share. For many years these ‘weeds’ have been used for folk medicine and healing remedies that are very easy to make.
One of the most common plants you will find growing throughout your yard and just about anywhere is plantain. Its broad leaf has a curving vertical ridge and is oval in shape. You may find a slender stalk growing from the center of the plant during flowering. By using plantain leaves to make a poultice or herbal salve you can make use of a common plant that is so plentiful around us. Making your own plantain herb salve is easy and economical. You will need the following ingredients:
Fresh cleaned plantain leaves
Olive oil and/or safflower oil
large jar (pint or your choice) with lid
small baby food jars or other wide mouthed jars
There are different methods of creating salve but we are going to use a slow process from the folk tradition. The first thing to do is locate your plantain and gather your leaves when they are dry. You will need enough leaves to fill the large jar. Next clean the dirt from the leaves and allow them to air dry for a few hours to reduce the moisture content. Then when you are ready to begin you will chop the plantain leaves to release the essence inside the leaf and place them into your large jar until full. Gently warm enough oil in a pan on your stove top to cover the leaves completely plus some. The oil should not be boiling hot but warm. Then carefully pour the oil into the jar completely covering the plant plus an inch or so more. You can use a wooden spoon to push the plant down if needed. Cover with some waxed paper and the lid and allow to sit for up to a few weeks or so. WATCH FOR MOLD so you do not lose your oil. It is good to give it a gentle nudge daily by taking the jar in your hands and swirling the contents around.
When you are ready to make your salve pour the oil through a strainer or cheesecloth. Squeeze all the oil out of the plant material and save the leaves for compost. Now you will heat the oil slowly and keep stirring gently with a wooden spoon while adding your bees wax until it reaches the consistency that you like. This can be tested by dipping a spoon or stick in and placing it in the freezer until it hardens. Normally you will use about one and a half ounces of bees wax for a pint of oil, but can use more if you desire a firmer salve. When it is the desired texture the mixture is ready to pour into the small jars. Allow it to cool and voila you have a few wonderful jars of plantain herb salve.
This salve is great for insect bites, stings, shallow scrapes, baby bums, dry skin and much more. Oh, and if you are ever outdoors and do not have access to your salve just reach for a plantain leaf, macerate it, mix it with some saliva (or chew it like I do, just make sure it IS plantain) and you have a handy poultice for a bite, sting or?!
Enjoy your journey with plantain.