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Plantain (not to be confused with the relative of the banana known by the same name) is a small weed often found in cultivated fields and at the edge of lawns. Traditionally, the crushed leaves were applied to the skin to treat wounds and bites, a leaf tincture was used for coughs, and the dried leaf was taken internally for the treatment of bronchitis, ulcers, epilepsy, and liver problems.
A typical dose of plantain for oral use is 1–3 grams three times daily. 1 Syrups and tinctures are used for coughs.
Plantain contains active substances in the iridoid glycoside family, especially aucubin, catalpol, and acteoside. 2 3 The highest levels are found when the plant is collected in mid-fall. 4 Other potentially active ingredients fall in the phenolic category, such as caffeic acid. Some plantain products are standardized to levels of one or more of these ingredients, but it is not clear whether this produces a “better” product.
- Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications; 1998:186–7.
- Taskova R, Evstatieva L, Handjieva N, et al. Iridoid patterns of genus Plantago L. and their systematic significance. Z Naturforsch [C]. 2002;57:42–50.
- Fuchs A, Bowers MD. Patterns of iridoid glycoside production and induction in Plantago lanceolata and the importance of plant age. J Chem Ecol. 2004;30:1723–41.
- Tamura Y, Nishibe S. Changes in the concentrations of bioactive compounds in plantain leaves. J Agric FoodChem. 2002;50:2514–8.