Here, dear reader, is a simple and easy recipe for making a small batch of plantain salve, a staple in my home apothecary. This addition to your own home apothecary is great for healing minor burns, small cuts, stings, and bug bites. My family and I have used this salve for several years now and we absolutely love it!
Crafting a plantain salve is an easy way to dip your toes into herbalism because you are learning how to make an infused oil and a salve. This recipe is also a wonderful way to be a thrifty or economical homemaker because you are foraging for plantain in your own backyard and creating a healing salve instead of purchasing similar ointments from the drug store.
Plantain (Plantago spp.) is a very common plant that one can find all over the globe. Many consider this ordinary herb to be a weed, however, there are many benefits to having this little plant around. Two of the most common species, Broadleaf Plantain (Plantago Major) and Ribwort Plantain (Plantago Lanceolata) have followed human migration from Europe and Asia and are now naturalized in most temperate and subtropical regions of the world (CABI, 2020a; CABI, 2020b).
For topical use, the plantain is a prime wound-mending herb; it’s high in mucilage (a thick, gluey substance produced by nearly all plants and some microorganisms) and a number of inflammation-modulating compounds (Adom et al., 2017), which give it a moistening, soothing, emollient quality. Plantain also has antimicrobial or antiseptic properties, and can help to stave off infection as wounds heal.
Overall, this is a very useful medicinal plant to keep around.
To Make The Infused Oil
- Begin by gathering and drying out 2 cups of plantain leaves (I was able to forage a blend of the Broadleaf Plantain and the Ribwort Plantain from around my yard). I lay the leaves out on a cooling rack for a day until they are dry enough to hang in small bundles for another few days. Check the progress of the herbs each day until thoroughly dried.
- Place dried herbs in a clean and dry glass jar. Pour your choice of oil over the herbs until they are fully submerged. I used a 50/50 blend of olive oil and grape seed oil for this batch.
- Cover the top of the glass jar with the lid securely and place the oil infusion in a cool, dark place in your home. The oil will need to sit for 4-6 weeks. Make sure to give it a good shake every couple of days and inspect it to make sure there is no mold growth. If you find mold, you will need to discard the whole infusion and begin again.
- After the 4-6 weeks has passed, strain the plant material from the oil and store the oil in a clean jar until you are ready to use.
- You now have an infused oil to use in the salve recipe. (Also note, this process can be used to make herbal infusions with other herbs as well.)
To Make The Salve
- 1 oz. beeswax (by weight)
- 8 oz. plantain infused oil (by volume)
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil (optional)
- 20-30 drops lavender essential oil (optional)
- Double boiler (or a sauce pan with a glass jar to hold the melted beeswax)
- Small tins or jars to hold the salve in
- Something to stir with (I used a popsicle stick)
- Melt the beeswax in the double boiler on the stove over medium heat. If you do not have a double boiler, simply use a a sauce pan filled with a few inches of water and place a glass jar in the water. Use the glass jar to melt the beeswax in.
- Once the beeswax is melted, add the infused oil and the coconut oil. Stir until the coconut oil is melted.
- Remove the mixture from the stove. Stir in the essential oil right before pouring. I chose to include lavender essential oil because it can help cleanse and soothe minor skin irritations and the scent is calming.
- Pour the mixture into your containers of choice. Let it cool and solidify before using the salve.
To use the salve, simply apply a small amount with clean fingertips or a Q-Tip to the clean and dry wound. Apply a bandage if needed.
Please note that there are many ways to make the infused oil and many different recipes for the salve, this is just the way that I like to make it and it has worked very well for me and my family.
I greatly hope, dear reader, you are inspired to make a salve of your own or even to dip your toes into other areas of herbalism.
Adom, M.B., Taher, M., Mutalabisin, M.F., Amri, M.S., Abdul Kudos, M.B., Wan Sulaiman, M.W.A.,… Susanti, D. (2017). Chemical constituents and medical benefits of Plantago major. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, 96, 348–360. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopha.2017.09.152
CABI. (2020a). Plantago lanceolata. Invasive Species Compendium. Retrieved from www.cabi.org/isc
CABI. (2020b). Plantago major. Invasive Species Compendium. Retrieved from www.cabi.org/isc
Disclaimer: If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your healthcare provider or seek other professional medical treatment immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this blog, website or in any linked materials.