Digital publication - Page 16

16 Live Positive Today/July 2015

Got a sunburn? How about those itchy bug bites? Or maybe you just realized the sturdy vine you held onto for support while taking that little nature hike had clusters of three shiny leaves

Luckily, Mother Nature provides us with an abundance of herbs that soothe, heal, and nourish—if we know what to look for. They can be found along the water's edge, (both fresh and brackish) or within a short hike into wood or field. They may even be growing in your backyard. They are common weeds and wildflowers to most, but to one who knows their secrets, they are green allies.

Plantain (Plantago major or Plantago lanceolata)

What summer would be complete without the ever-present mosquitoes? You may also be lucky enough to encounter greenheads, no-see-ums, or black flies. Perhaps just a good old-fashioned bee sting. Plantain is your new best friend.

Plantain, also called ribwort, pig's ear, and the band-aid plant, is a common weed of lawns, driveways, parks, and playgrounds. Identify it by the five parallel veins running the length of each leaf. (Most leaves have a central vein with smaller ones branching out from it.) You may find broad leaf plantain (Plantago major), with wide leaves and a tall seed head, or narrow leaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata), with long thin leaves and a small flower head that looks like a flying saucer. Just pick a leaf (always clean it off and check for bugs) and chew it until it's a paste. Put the paste on the bite or sting. You've made your first poultice! The pain, swelling, and heat of the bite or sting should subside quickly. Apply as often as needed. You can also dry some Plantain leaves to keep in your first aid kit. Chew them and apply as you would the fresh leaf.

Plantain infusion (strong tea) can also be used as a soothing wash for sunburn, windburn, rashes, or wounds. To make a plantain infusion, simply add a small handful of fresh plantain leaves to a cup or two of water, cover, and bring to a gentle boil. Turn off heat, and let steep for 15 to 30 minutes, then strain out the leaves. The infusion is best when fresh, although it can be stored in the refrigerator/cooler for a few days. Plantain may also be used as a salad green or potherb. Pick when young for mildest flavor. It is high in calcium, and vitamins B1, B2, C, A, and K.

Precautions: Plantain is not associated with any common side effects and is thought to be safe for children.

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Plantago lanceolata

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Plantago

major

Herbal Allies for Summer--Two Plants to Know

Judith Millar, Herbalist * Sacred Ground Herbals * Brick, NJ

Sacred Ground Herbals

Brick, NJ