Typically our response to the weeds that defy all efforts and continuously pop up in our garden is one of irritation and despair. A strong desire to eliminate the weeds by any means necessary often follows. But would you have a different reaction and response to them if you knew that the very medicine that you may need is quite often right within in your reach, in the form of commonly known and found weeds.
Yellow Dock, Dandelion, Chickweed and Ribwort are just a few readily available plants that can powerfully support you with their nutrient and healing qualities.
We will focus on one plant for each entry, and given that we are currently facing a health crisis that affects the lungs, aka the Year of the COVID19 virus, we will begin with Ribwort/Plantain, quite commonly known as Narrow leafed and Broad leafed plantain.
Ribwort/Plantain (Plantago spp. = Plantago lanceolata and Plantago major) is a perennial herb, meaning it is a persistent herb in your garden, living for more than two years, although the Broad leafed Plantain is only a short lived perennial so you are less likely to find this one. Plantains are native to Europe but have naturalised everywhere, they can be commonly found in most open areas, including the cracks in your foot paths.
While these two plants are somewhat identical in their actions Plantago lanceolata (seen above centre and to the right) is more suited to healing conditions relating to the respiratory system, including infectious and allergic ailments, and Plantago major (seen above left) has an affinity for intestinal and urinary ailments.
In the respiratory system Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata) is specifically useful where there is mucous and inflammation.
Ribwort helps to reduce and clear mucous, reduce inflammation in the delicate tissues of the respiratory system, all the way from the nose and throat down into the lower portion of the lung. Due to its mucilage content it is soothing and extremely powerful in its ability to affect catarrh.
It can be helpful for respiratory conditions such as:
Rat tailed Plantain (Plantago major) has similar active constituents to Ribwort, it contains:
The leaf of Rat tailed Plantain can be crushed and applied locally to wounds, including slow healing wounds, conjunctivitis and blepharitis as an eye wash, haemorrhoids, oral inflammation and mouth ulcers as a mouth wash (Fisher, 2009, pp. 194-5) and as a strong nutritive can be made into a daily tonic in a variety of ways.
So isn't it incredible that such a humble, evergreen and persistent weed is in fact a powerful medicine sitting in your backyard soaking up the sun and working diligently to grow to its full potential so that it may be of service to you.
There are many quick and simple ways you can make use of this beautiful herb, the following gives you some effective applications of Plantago spp.
Please note that when choosing your plant material make CERTAIN that it comes from a spray free area. All herbicides and insecticide sprays such as Glyphosphate are poisonous for your health.
Fisher C (2009) Materia Medica of Western Herbs. Nelson. NZ.