Use easy to make plantain salve as a homemade herbal remedy to soothe bug bites, soothe itching, and more.
Plantain grows wild in most untreated lawns and green spaces making it one of the easiest wild herbs to forage and use at home and this healing salves is a great way to make use of it.
Plantain grows low to the ground in a rosette fashion. The most common grows in a broad leaf with deep veins. There is a narrow leaf variety as well.
When plantain flowers it sends up slender stalks that are green from the center.
Simply clip the leaves from the plant. The leaves can be harvested in any season you find them. Just be sure to use green leaves not yellowed or browned leaves.
Harvest from unsprayed locations not too close to the road. Likely most backyards and park spaces will have some.
For salve making use any size leaf.
Wash the leaves by rinsing with cool water to remove any residual dirt and/or bugs. Run the leaves through a salad spinner to remove any surface moisture.
Spread the leaves out onto a wire rack and let dehydrate until completely dry and crispy.
Feel free to use dehydrator trays and place them in the dehydrator, it is not necessary to turn the dehydrator on.
In most climates the leaves will dry in less than a week, more humid climates might take longer.
Plantain’s Medicinal Actions
Plantain has an affinity for itch relief. Use it on rashes and more where itch is a significant problem.
Plantain has the ability to draw toxins out of the body. It effectively coaxes out the poisons of stings or bites, helping to alleviate the burning and itching sensations associated with these injuries.
Plantain can also remove deep-seated foreign objects from the skin, such as slivers of wood or metal.
Plantain speeds up recovery times because it heals wounds and infections from the inside out.
Make Infused Oil
Plantain salve requires plantain infused oil first and foremost.
This can be made in a few different ways.
Quick Fresh Leaf Method
Place 1/4 cup chopped fresh plantain leaves and ½ cup oil of your choice (olive, almond, avocado, etc.) in a bowl.
Use this bowl as the ‘top’ of a double boiler. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and let it infuse for at least 30 minutes.
The point here is not to fry the herbs but merely keep the oil and herbs warm.
Strain the herbs from the oil and proceed with the salve recipe.
Slow Solar Method
While fresh herbs can be used for this method, the chances of mold increase greatly. Using dried plantain prevents mold from growing.
Place 2 Tablespoons dried plantain leaves in a jar. Cover with ¼ cup oil of choice. Place the lid on the jar and place it on a sunny windowsill.
Let infuse for 3 to 4 weeks.
Strain the leaves from the oil and put the infused oil in a clean, labeled jar or proceed with salve making.
Salve is really nothing more than infused oil and beeswax. The beeswax makes the oil solid.
Experiment to find the level of hardness in your salve that you most enjoy. If the following recipe is too soft for you, remelt and add a bit more beeswax. If it’s too hard, remelt and add a bit more oil.
Most any clean container will work for storing your finished plantain salve. Small glass jars work, metal tins or plastic containers are widely available. Feel free to use old candy tins that have been washed well.
All oils can eventually go rancid, use up your salve within 1 year.
How to Use Plantain Salve
Simply spread the salve onto clean wounds, stings, or rashes as needed. Cover lightly with a cloth to prevent the oil from staining clothes, if desired.
Want to learn more about foraging for food & medicine? Our Guide to Backyard Foraging will give you the skills, recipes, and methods to feel confident in gathering medicinal and edible herbs right in your own backyard.
- 1/4 Cup Plantain Infused Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Beeswax
- Double boiler
- Small mason jars or tins
- Place the plantain oil and beeswax in a double boiler. Over low-medium heat stir the mixture frequently until all the beeswax has melted.
- Carefully pour the mixture into tins or glass containers. The salve will quickly change from an oily liquid to a soft ointment as it cools.
- When completely cool and hardened, put lid on container and label.