Those of you who've read my novels, know I like to include some ancestral lessons in my story telling. Those who've passed along this way before us possessed wisdom that to a great extent we've lost. So many of the "weeds" we pull or spray with chemicals now were considered vital for good health in the not so distant past. One such plant is the plantain weed.
A coworker of mine told me of this little backyard gem. He said, "If you ever get a sting or a bite, you can take a leaf from the plantain weed, chew it into mash, and then put it on your skin. It will sooth the itch and help with swelling."
I thought that interesting but didn't apply the tip until I was writing the second novel in my Come To Light series, Chasing Clare, in which a healer named Duffie uses it on Clare's bee sting.
In my research, I found that it's not only great for bites, stings, bruises, open wounds, and infections but also beneficial for people with digestive tract disorders. Both the leaves and seeds can be eaten raw or cooked and the seeds can be ground into a meal and mixed with flour. Dried leaves make a healthy herbal tea.
I had the opportunity to try it myself just a couple weeks ago when a honey bee stung me on the chest, just below my throat. I typically react to bee stings, like most people do, with pain, swelling, and then itching over a few days time. Given the area of this sting, I was concerned with swelling of my throat. I yanked the stinger out and thought of the plantain weed. I didn't have to look far to find one in my yard and broke off a leaf, chewed it and then pressed it on my sting. To my amazement I felt instant relief. I placed a band-aid over it to keep in place and went about my day. After removing the bandage at bedtime, I did have some swelling and irritation but nothing like the last time I'd gotten stung.
I view that previously pesky weed in my yard and garden with much more respect and am now even grateful for it.