Plantain, a rather banal and not very beautiful plant, rich in virtues but which is not showy and certainly does not have the fame it deserves. Let's try to do it justice, or at least to make it known to most people so that they can use it, as a remedy for some discomfort. And also, or alternatively, as an ingredient for healthy or tasty dishes. I will give you the recipe for one of the main courses.
There Plantain (Plantago) is part of the Plantaginaceae family and has anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties, it is also used in the case of inflammation of the mucous membranes. Its potential has been known since very ancient times, just mention Dioscorides (1st century AD) when he recommended it for dysentery, or Pliny who enthusiastically defined it as “magic herb”.
Its usefulness has always been recognized throughout history, we see it exploited as an astringent, against heavy menstruation, and as a “formidable antidote” against the venom of scorpions and snakes.
There Plantain lanceolata it is a herbaceous plant with a deeply furrowed scape that can be 10 to 60 cm high. The leaves have many veins and, as the name of the typology suggests Plantain, are lanceolate. The flowers are gathered in a spike, numerous, all together.
As mentioned in the introduction, this plant is very common, in our country we find it everywhere, in any grassy or uncultivated place. Roadside included. While knowing and recognizing its various uses, no one has ever paid much attention to the lanceolate plantain, assuming that so much was available.
This indifference is also due to its anonymous appearance: it is not beautiful, it is not colored, it does not smell, it has flowers with a modest and humble aspect. It has always been a plant included in popular medical practices, however, and most likely owes its name to the similarity of the leaves to the sole of the foot. Plantain from "planta".
So far, only hinted at the properties of the Plantain they deserve to be illustrated more precisely. The leaves of this plant, let's start with them: they have expectorant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. This is because they contain iridoid glycosides, flavonoids, mucilages, tannins, pectins, salic acid, mineral salts.
In particular for the anti-inflammatory action of Plantain Aucubin is to be thanked for, this particular capacity for action that becomes an effective remedy in case of inflammatory conditions of the skin and mucous membranes that line the mouth, throat and respiratory tract in general. Or in case of cough, bronchial catarrh, chronic bronchitis, various allergies and sinusitis.
Changing context, but always thinking about anti-inflammatory properties, we see the Plantain used to soothe inflammation of the urogenital system. The presence of phenolic acids in this plant gives it an antiseptic action that makes it appreciated by those with allergic reactions or bacterial infections, its content of silicic acid, zinc and potassium is instead responsible for its diuretic and remineralizing.
For external use the Plantain it is healing, soothing, anti-itching, decongestant: a natural remedy recommended for dermatosis, small skin lesions, acne, eyelid and eye inflammations, including allergic ones. Apart from those explicitly allergic to plants of the genus to which the Plantain it belongs, everyone can use it without fear of strange reactions: it is really a popular and "common" plant.
The greater plantain reaches up to 30 cm in height, is a perennial herbaceous plant but has no stem, it has scapes, one or more, with the spike of flowers on top. Like the lanceolate sister, although not lanceolate, it grows both at the sea and in alpine areas, in meadows, fields, along the roads and in all grassy places. Of this Plantain leaves and seeds are used.
The former must be harvested only when they are fully developed, so from June onwards: they are dried in the shade and stored in paper or canvas bags. To obtain the seeds, however, you have to cut the ears, usually towards the end of summer, by drying them and then beating them in order to separate the seeds to be stored in glass or porcelain containers. The important thing is that up to a dry place.
The photos of the Plantain, or perhaps, they confirm the fact that it is more than ever a very common and difficult to notice plant, for example, among what we call weeds, on the side of a road. In this sense, the photos could be useful to recognize it, since we now know its virtues.
In addition to being useful in photo therapy, the Plantain it is also in the kitchen. More than useful, pleasant, in salads and soups, but not only, also combined with other plants, boiled and seasoned with oil and aromatic vinegar. That's all? No. There is also something for those with a sweet tooth, and can cook a calzone alla plantain or a risotto, a vegetable soup with a touch of personality, and croquettes.
The latter are the best, they are prepared with 400 g of plantain leaves, 2 cloves of garlic, a tablespoon of chopped parsley, 50 g of. Butter, 20 g of flour, a glass of milk, 3 eggs, grated Parmesan cheese, a slice of about 150 g of raw ham, grated bread and oil. After washing them, we chop the leaves of our plant then sauté them with the garlic and parsley in 30 g of butter.
Meanwhile, prepare a thick béchamel using flour, butter and a glass of milk. Once cooked for 10 minutes, always stirring, it can be incorporated into the sauce obtained plantain which we prepared together with an egg, two handfuls of Parmesan cheese and diced raw ham. Continuing to mix to mix the ingredients, you end up spreading the mixture obtained on a moist surface, letting it harden. To finish it, cut it into small squares to pass in beaten eggs and breadcrumbs. All that remains is to fry, let it cool and taste the just learned recipe.
If we don't want to sauté, or don't want the smell of fried food at home, with 10 euros our plantain dose is guaranteed with the tincture, non-alcoholic and 100% organic.
Another odorless and zero-fatigue, or almost zero, way to enjoy the benefits of Plantain is represented by syrup, also sold on Amazon at less than 15 euros in packs of 250 ml. Possible alternatives are the infusion or decoction, in which to associate the Plantain to other balsamic and expectorant plants. To calm the cough I have often heard a preference for syrup.
If you liked this article keep following me also on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and ... elsewhere you have to find me!
You may also be interested in the following articles:
- Medicinal plants: cards with characteristics and properties
- Narcissus: flower and properties
- Ginko Biloba: plant and cultivation