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Known for growing everywhere from parking lots to playgrounds, plantain weed is often dismissed as a pervasive garden pest.
However, it’s not only edible and readily available but also has been used for centuries in traditional medicine.
In fact, plantain weed contains plant compounds that may reduce inflammation, improve digestion, and promote wound healing.
This article explores the benefits, side effects, and uses of plantain weed.
Plantain, also known as broadleaf plantain (Plantago major), is native to Europe and certain parts of Asia. This perennial plant produces greenish flowers and has large, oval-shaped leaves that can be eaten raw or cooked.
Despite sharing its name, plantain weed is unrelated to plantain fruit, which is a type of banana.
Notably, several types of edible plantain weed belong to the same family as broadleaf plantain. These include:
- narrowleaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata)
- blackseed plantain (Plantago rugelii)
- blond plantain (Plantago ovata)
- bracted plantain (Plantago aristata)
- Chinese plantain (Plantago asiatica)
- buck’s-horn plantain (Plantago coronopus)
- woolly plantain (Plantago patagonica)
Although often considered weeds, these plants all have edible leaves and seeds that have been used medicinally for centuries (
Plantain weed is a plant with edible leaves and seeds that have longstanding medicinal uses.
Preliminary studies indicate that plantain weed may have several health benefits, though more research is needed.
May decrease inflammation
While low levels of inflammation are part of your body’s healthy response to injury, chronic inflammation can lead to various illnesses.
Studies show that plantain weed may help reduce inflammation.
In particular, the leaves contain several anti-inflammatory compounds, including flavonoids, terpenoids, glycosides, and tannins (
A rat study found that administering plantain weed extract decreased several markers of inflammation caused by liver injury (
Another animal study observed similar findings, reporting that plantain weed extract significantly decreased inflammation and reduced liver enzymes to protect against liver damage (
What’s more, test-tube studies suggest that plantain seeds may decrease several markers of inflammation and slow the growth of certain cancer cells (
That said, plantain weed should not be considered a cancer remedy. Human studies are necessary to evaluate this plant’s anti-inflammatory effects.
May promote wound healing
Some research notes that plantain weed may support wound healing by reducing inflammation, blocking microbial growth, and relieving pain (
In fact, a study in 40 people found that applying a gel containing aloe vera and plantain weed helped heal foot ulcers (
Similarly, in an animal study, aloe vera and plantain weed improved wound healing and enhanced tissue repair when applied topically (
All the same, it’s difficult to determine plantain’s exact effects since these studies also used aloe vera.
In another animal study, applying only plantain weed extract to wounds helped increase the rate of healing, compared with a control group (
Still, further research is necessary.
May support digestive health
Several compounds in plantain weed’s seeds and leaves have been shown to alleviate certain digestive issues (
In particular, the seeds contain psyllium, a type of fiber often used as a natural laxative since it absorbs water as it moves through your digestive tract (
According to one review, plantain leaves may also slow the movement of your digestive tract, which may promote bowel regularity and help treat diarrhea (
A rat study even found that narrowleaf plantain extract promoted the healing of stomach ulcers (
Additionally, some animal studies suggest that plantain weed’s anti-inflammatory properties may aid digestive issues like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which can cause symptoms like stomach pain, bloating, and diarrhea (
Plantain weed may decrease inflammation, accelerate wound healing, and support digestive health. Nonetheless, further human research is needed.
Most healthy adults can safely eat plantain weed’s leaves either raw or cooked.
However, plantain supplements may cause mild symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, and skin reactions. High doses may trigger more serious side effects, including anaphylaxis — a severe and potentially life threatening allergic reaction (
Fiber supplements derived from plantain seeds, such as psyllium, may also cause digestive issues, including gas, bloating, and uncomfortable fullness (
Be sure to start with a low dosage, increase your intake slowly, and use only as directed to minimize any potential side effects.
If you experience an allergic reaction, discontinue use immediately and talk to your healthcare provider.
Fresh plantain weed can be eaten safely with minimal risk of adverse effects. Yet, supplements may cause mild side effects, including digestive issues.
Plantain weed is available both as a supplement and edible vegetable.
You can find plantain weed in capsule, tincture, and tea form at numerous health stores and pharmacies.
The standard dosage for infusions or teas is around 5 ounces (150 mL), 3–4 times daily. In powdered form, the typical dosage ranges from 3–5 grams per day (
Be sure you don’t exceed the dosage listed on the product.
It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider before supplementing, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking any medications.
Shop for plantain supplements online.
If you’re able to find plantain weeds in your yard, you can also enjoy the leaves in a variety of dishes.
After careful rinsing, young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Because older leaves tend to be tougher, they may be better suited for cooked dishes, such as soups, stews, and stir-fries.
For topical use, try drying the leaves and infusing them into your choice of oil, such as coconut, sunflower, olive, or almond oil.
Dried plantain weed can also be added to natural skin care products, including lip balms, lotions, and ointments.
If you harvest plantain weed from your yard, try to avoid plants that have been treated with pesticides, are growing near the road, or are located in areas frequented by pets.
Plantain weed supplements are available as capsules, tinctures, and teas. You can use fresh plantain leaves in cooking or infuse them into various natural skin care products.
Despite being considered a weed, the common garden plantain has edible leaves and seeds.
It may even provide health benefits, such as improved digestion, enhanced wound healing, and lower inflammation.
Furthermore, plantain weed is widely available as a supplement, tea, and skin care product.