(Plantago lanceolata L.)
Ribwort plantain, also known as narrowleaf plantain, English plantain, lamb’s tongue and buckhorn, originates from the family Plantaginaceae. Ribwort plantain is widespread throughout Europe and also in Asia and North Africa. You can easily find it in North America, Australia and Madagascar as well.
Ribwort plantain grows in fields, at roadsides, in meadows and pastures, and although it is considered a weed, it has many valuable properties.
Ribwort plantain leaves are used as a herbal raw material and they are collected during the flowering stage of the plant. Its long and narrow leaves, bitter in taste, contain a wealth of valuable, health-promoting ingredients, including flavonoids, pectins, tannins, glycosides, mucilage, organic acids, mineral salts and vitamins. It is worth remembering that fibrous strands need to be removed from the leaves before consumption; however, the strands are obtained from the plant for industrial purposes, as they can be used for textile production. In turn, seed coats from ribwort plantain are used to obtain mucilage, which was used to stiffen the strands. Ribwort plantain seeds can be ground to powder and added to flour when making bread or cookies, while the whole plant is used to obtain gold and brown dyes.
Fresh juice from leaves, leaves themselves, or a decoction made from dried leaves – when to use them and for what problems?
Due to their anti-inflammatory effect on the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat and expectorant and spasmolytic activities, products made with ribwort plantain leaves are used to treat inflammatory conditions of the upper airways and dry cough. They reduce hyperaemia of the mucous membranes and excessive permeability of blood vessels. Decoctions made with plantain leaves are also used in gastrointestinal catarrh and when there is damage to the mucous membranes of the stomach and intestines.
Various forms of ribwort plantain are also used externally as a compress. It accelerates wound healing and regeneration of the epidermis. It aids the treatment of minor wounds and cuts. Plantain leaves can be applied directly to damaged skin, even several times a day, to accelerate healing, suppress itching after insect bites or relieve pain.
The numerous properties of ribwort plantain make it a valuable raw material used in cosmetology.
Extracts derived from ribwort plantain are a source of many active substances, such as iridoids, flavonoids and glycosides. Its bactericidal, antibiotic and astringent properties as well as the ability to support regeneration of the epidermis are used in cosmetics dedicated to acne skin. Ribwort plantain also makes the skin more elastic and strengthens blood vessels. That is why it is used in care cosmetics dedicated to skin around the eyes and eyelids, as well as in anti-wrinkle products.
Ribwort plantain has a long history of application that dates back to ancient times.
Hundreds of years ago, in some cultures, ribwort plantain was used as a panacea, that is, a remedy for all diseases. One of the Indian names for ribwort plantain is translated as a ‘medicine of life’. In folk medicine, the valuable qualities of ribwort plantain were known and it was used as antibacterial and anti-inflammatory drug, to treat coughs and catarrh of gastrointestinal tract and urinary tract. It was considered a strong plant, as it did not die when stepped on. Due to their antiseptic properties, compresses made with ribwort plantain leaves were recommended as means of alleviating skin after insect bites, and accelerating healing of minor wounds.