Natural Itching Relief: Make a Plantain Anti-Itch Balm

| 4/7/2011 10:36:00 AM

Narrow-leaved plantain (Plantago lanceolata) is a common garden weed and also, ironically, a gardener’s best friend. It contains anti-inflammatory and soothing compounds such as allantoin that make it a first-rate antidote to insect stings and itchy rashes—simply crush some leaves and rub them on the bite to quickly soothe a sting. It also makes a wonderful balm for fire ant bites and it stops the itchiness of mosquito bites.

Plantain is a European weed that quickly spread to North America with European settlers—it spread so quickly it was called “white man’s footprint” by Native Americans. It’s rosette of lance-shaped leaves, which emerge in spring, and distinctive flower heads make it easily recognizable. While some may scoff at the idea of planting weeds (goodness knows I already have too many) I planted my own plantain plants so I have a ready supply of my herbal helper.

Photo by Jude Bardsley

Registered herbalist Mathew Wood says that this herb is also called “snakeweed,” as it has been used as a poultice to draw out snake venom. In Europe the tea is used for bronchitis and colds. Other uses include topical applications to blisters, sores and ulcers where it is especially useful as a drawing agent.

Now is the perfect time to harvest leaves to make Plantain Anti-Itch Balm. Safe enough for children and pregnant women to use, this is a must-have in any herbal first aid kit.

Plantain Anti-Itch Balm