The medicinal parts are the dried leaves, the dried herb, and the fresh plant.
Flower and Fruit
The globular or shortly cylindrical spikes are on erect or ascending, 5-grooved, appressed pubescent peduncles. The flowers are small, almost colorless behind scarious, narrow-acuminate bracts. The scarious calyx is deeply divided into 4 parts and has a cylindrical tube and a margin with 4 ovate tips. There are 4 long stamens with yellowish-white filaments and anthers and 1 superior ovary. The fruit is a bivalvular, 3 to 4 mm long capsule. The seeds are oblong, 2 mm long and blackish.
Leaves, Stem, and Root
The plant is perennial and grows from 5 to 50 cm high. It has a very fibrous root. All the leaves are in basal rosettes and are lanceolate or linear-lanceolate, deeply 3 to 5 ribbed, entire-margined or short-dentate.
The plant is widespread in the cool temperate regions of the world.
English Plantain herb consists of the fresh or dried above-ground parts of Plantago lanceolata, harvested at flowering season (May to September) and dried quickly at 40 to 50º C.
Not to be Confused With
the similar Digitalis lanata leaves.
Buckhorn, Chimney-Sweeps, Headsman, Narrow-Leaved Plantain, Ribgrass, Ribwort, Ripplegrass, Soldier's Herb
Actions & Pharmacology
Iridoide monoterpenes (2-3%): chief components are aucubin (rhinantin) and catalpol as well as asperuloside
Mucilages (2-6%): glucomannans, arabinogalactane, rhamnogalacturonane
Flavonoids: including among other chief components apigenine-6,8-diglucoside, luteolin-7-glucuronide
Caffeic acid esters: chlorogenic acid, neochlorogenic acid, acteoside (verbascoside)
Liquid extract and the pressed juice of fresh Plantain herb have a proven bactericidal effect. The aucubigenin (hydrolised acubin) and an antimicrobial saponin are believed to be responsible for the antibacterial effect. In addition, acceleration of blood clotting has been demonstrated and a possible epithelization effect has been mentioned. The herb has also shown positive effects in respiratory tract infections.
Indications & Usage
Approved by Commission E:
- Common cold
- Fevers and colds
- Inflammation of the mouth and pharynx
- Inflammation of the skin
In folk medicine, the pressed juice of English Plantain is used internally for conditions of the respiratory tract, cystitis, enuresis, liver disease, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and as a diuretic.
Externally the plant is used for wounds, furuncles, conjunctivitis, and as a hemostyptic.
Precautions & Adverse Reactions
No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages.
Mode of Administration
As a comminuted herb and other galenic preparations for internal and external use. It is available as macerations, liquid extracts, lozenges, syrup, and pressed juice of the fresh plant. The drug is available in many standardized preparations of antitussives and expectorants.
To make an infusion, pour boiling water over 2 to 4 g cut drug (or put in cold water brought to a boil) and strain after 10 minutes (1 teaspoonful = approximately 0.7 g drug).
The average daily dose is 3 to 6 g of herb.
Tea—1 cup of freshly made tea to be drunk several times a day.