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Plantain Salve Recipe (Homemade First Aid Ointment)

on | in Natural Remedies | by | with 81 Comments

First aid ointment made with a common backyard "weed." My kids are going to love this.

It’s a weed . . . it’s a banana . . . no . . it’s . . .

Plantain – the most useful “weed” in your backyard! If you’ve ever secretly wanted to be Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, give this a try: The next time your little one comes to you with an owie – say a wasp sting on her eyebrow for example – kiss it until the stinging stops. Then go on your way, completely forgetting about it until she wakes up looking like she went three rounds with Rocky Balboa.

Oops. So, in this **purely theoretical** situation, here’s what you would do next: Head out into the backyard and begin gathering “medicine” with your little one. Relish the way she takes it in with wide eyes. Are you feeling the Medicine Woman vibe? Good. Now pick a leaf, pop it into your mouth, and chew – then stick the green wad right on the sting. What, NO??? Well, for the record, it works. But if you want something a bit more, uh, not gross, you can use the plantain salve recipe below.

Plantain – A Versatile “First Aid” Ointment

Plantain, which goes by the same name as the close relative of the banana, is sometimes called the “band aid” plant. Thanks to the presence of iridoids, it has a very soothing, anti-inflammatory effect on skin. (source) It also contains aglycone and aucubigenin, which have documented antimicrobial activity. (source)

 Plantain is considered helpful for:

    • Bee/wasp stings
    • Spider bites
    • Mosquito and other bug bites
    • Poison ivy/poison oak/sumac (this remedy using plantain and jewelweed is great)
    • Eczema
    • Psoriasis
    • Sunburn
    • Diaper rash

    Backyard Treasure Hunting: How to find plantain

    If you don’t have access to an area that has not been sprayed with pesticides, you can find dried plantain here. Or if you prefer not to make your own, you can find plantain salve with goldenseal here.

    First aid ointment made with a common backyard "weed." My kids are going to love this.

    Plantain Salve Recipe

    Makes about 1 cup

    Ingredients

      • 1 cup fresh plantain leaves gathered from an area that has not been sprayed with chemicals, chopped
      • 1 1/2 cups olive oil or melted coconut oil
      • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon grated beeswax, tightly packed
      • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon rosemary or tea tree essential oil OR vitamin E oil, optional

      A note on preservatives

      To preserve the freshness of the salve and inhibit microbial growth, most people use grapefruit seed extract. I don’t, and this is the reason why. According to renowned herbalist Susun Weed, “Infused oils in an olive oil base resist rancidity at cool room temperature for several years.” (source) However, because plantain leaves contain some water, it’s important to follow a few guidelines to prevent mold:

        • Only use very dry leaves
        • Make sure your jar is also very dry
        • If you are infusing for several weeks, make sure to fill the jar all the way to the top with oil. This will inhibit mold.

        Quick Version

        1. Harvest your leaves on a dry, sunny day. Pull off any parts that look sick or diseased and brush off dirt with a dry cloth if needed.

        First aid ointment made with a common backyard "weed." My kids are going to love this.

        2. Chop leaves or grind them in a food processor.

        First aid ointment made with a common backyard "weed." My kids are going to love this. First aid ointment made with a common backyard "weed." My kids are going to love this.

        3. Place ground leaves in a clean, dry pint mason jar and cover with oil. The oil should completely cover the leaves.

        First aid ointment made with a common backyard "weed." My kids are going to love this.

        4. Place a kitchen towel in the bottom of your crockpot and place your jars inside. Add enough water to cover about half the jar and set to the lowest setting for 12-24 hours. I set mine to warm.

        First aid ointment made with a common backyard "weed." My kids are going to love this.

        5. If desired, give the oil a quick whir with an immersion blender to release more of the plant into the oil. Keep in mind that if you do this too much you will end up with tiny bits of plantain in your salve.

        First aid ointment made with a common backyard "weed." My kids are going to love this.

        6. Strain the oil through cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve. Let the oil sit for several hours. If there is any water in the oil (from the plantain leaves). it will collect in the bottom of the jar. Removing water extends the shelf life of the salve.

        plantain-extract-recipe-7

        7. Now that you’re plantain oil is ready, gently heat the beeswax in a double boiler. When it is melted, add the plantain oil while taking care not to pour in any water that may have collected at the bottom of the jar.  Stir until thoroughly mixed. If you’re adding essential oils, wait until the mixture has cooled a bit and then stir them in.

        plantain-oil-recipe-9

        8. Pour your salve into a clean, dry container and allow to cool. Now you’re ready for the next bug attack, bee sting, or brush with poison ivy!

        plantain-salve-recipe

        Slow Version

        1. Harvest your leaves on a dry, sunny day. Pull off any parts that look sick or diseased and brush off dirt with a dry cloth if needed.

        2. Chop leaves or grind them in a food processor.

        3. Place ground leaves in a clean, dry pint mason jar and cover with oil. The oil should completely cover the leaves (with room for the leaves to expand a bit) and go all the way to the top of the jar.

        4. Allow jar to sit for 4-6 weeks at room temperature.

        5. Strain the oil through cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve.

        6. Now that you’re plantain oil is ready, gently heat the beeswax in a double boiler. When it is melted, add the plantain oil while taking care not to pour in any water that may have collected at the bottom of the jar. Stir until thoroughly mixed. If you’re adding essential oils, wait until the mixture has cooled a bit and then stir them in.

        7. Pour your salve into a clean, dry container and allow to cool. Now you’re ready for the next bug attack, bee sting, or brush with poison ivy!

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        81 Responses to Plantain Salve Recipe (Homemade First Aid Ointment)

        1. b.j. says:

          I must have a half acre of plantain in my yard! I keep meaning to go pick it and dry it… My four year old niece knows this weed well, and runs out and picks some herself whenever she gets a cut or scrape! It’s also a very healthy tea and goes well in salads or soups.

        2. Cgoss says:

          What is the shelf life of this product?

        3. Mendy says:

          My kids and I were just talking about making a plantain salve–thanks, Heather! I wondered if it would work just to sit the jar in sunny spot for a day or two. Would the sunlight deteriorate the properties of the plantain? Thanks for being such a great resource!

        4. Natalie says:

          So interesting! Your daughter Katie is so adorable!

        5. Anabelle says:

          Do you cover the crock pot with the lid or leave it open?

        6. Paula says:

          What a cute helper! She was awesome.

        7. Angie says:

          I am so excited to try making this. I have a bag of dried plantain leaves that I purchased through Mountain Rose Herbs, used for another project, and have some left over. Would the amount to use be the same? They are very finely chopped and dried.
          Also, do you have a good source for the beeswax?

          • Heather says:

            I would use the same amount. It will be more concentrated, but I consider that a good thing. I buy my beeswax locally, but you can often find organic beeswax on Amazon. I’ll try to link to a source when the baby naps today :)

        8. Emily Phillips says:

          Does it matter if you use narrow leaf plantain? I can find it readily but must go about 30 miles north to find a lot of broadleaf.

          • Gudrun B says:

            hi, growing up we only used the narrow leaf plantain, we totally ignored the wide ones! since i am in the US i have a hard time finding the narrow leaf :)
            i think they are interchangeable (but you will need to collect more)

            i was just about to rip a lot of mine out – they are taking over! and i found some narrow leaf and transplanted it to my back yard so i can have both; i use the narrow for tea as anti cough medicine – guess the broad should work as well.

        9. Rachel says:

          I have LOADS of plantain in my yard. I recently “harvested” a bunch of it and have dried it fully. Could I infuse oil with the fully dried leaves and have it be as effective?

        10. Jessica S. says:

          Plantain is wonderful stuff!! I make my own salve w/ it. It is the best thing for mosquito bites that I have found!

        11. Cheryl says:

          Thanks for this post!! I had no idea about this plant and that you could make salve out of it. It seems that you would want to know for sure that it hadn’t been sprayed with any type of chemicals or pesticide. I don’t think I have any of this around the house… but I’m going to be on the lookout! Thanks again!

        12. Ruth Birnbaum says:

          I don’t believe that I’ve ever seen that here in hot, sunny Arizona. Does anyone know if it grows here?
          I would love to have that around for mosquito bites.

          • Gudrun B says:

            looks like every where i searched i find the same -unfortunately for you- Plantain, broad and narrow leaf are a common weed in the North Temperate Zone.

            • You can find it in South GA. My suggestion would be to look in gravely areas. Might not find any, but books aren’t always right! You might want to look for seeds on the net. I did a search on ebay and found several.

        13. Grace says:

          WOW! That’s fabulous to have a homemade ointment..I should find if there are plantain leaves around here..
          Thanks!

        14. mayra says:

          So excited to do this! I immediately checked to see if we had any….none here but maybe at a green house (surely not everyone sees it as a weed) or say, Palo Duro Canyons (nearby for me)? Where ever I go, can’t wait to get some and make this! Thanks for sharing!

        15. I just was at a picnic last night where a little girl got stung by a wasp and one of the moms knew about the plantain trick….it was totally new to me! Love this salve idea.

        16. Becky says:

          Oh My GOODNESS.
          I am almost unable to believe this… I was just asking myself again today – ‘what could this be?’ the plant that seems to have taken up residence in my herb garden and which I do not know, yet…
          (By the way, your embed link is acting up for the video or my browser is being a dink) but I copied the id and went to youtube to watch your video – so darling!! Love how you work with your ‘co-host’! Very nice example of how to be in the world. :)

          Then I nearly fell over. I have an herb garden full of burdock, Clary sage, mullein, comfrey, borage and all kinds of culinary herbs and mints and it was FULL of this thing I’d never seen – huge specimens. (But then my mullein is over 7 feet tall!)

          Now I will have to take a picture and send it to you – I think it’s plantain! I had thought it was burdock at first but it did this funny skinny tall seed head… and the purple stems are no burdock. Now I’m just laughing. There was so much I had to cut it back to leave room for some of the other guys – I’m pretty certain that must be what it is – and an interesting smell, too… Awesome! :) Wish I’d known to use it the other night when I had an accidental encounter with a nest of tiny predatory wasps! They may be small but they pack a wallop of a sting if you disturb their little nest! OUCH!
          Love the video! You’re doing great stuff here. :)

          • Gudrun B says:

            your herb garden sounds wonderful!!!! minus the wasps :)
            once you know plantain you will always recognize it! and it multiplies like crazy!

        17. Jen says:

          Could you use coconut oil instead of olive oil? Coconut oil has anti bacterial quality. Maybe it would work well in the salve.?

        18. Barbara Smylie says:

          Do you sell this stuff and how much? I live in Washington State and I have NEVER seen any in Washington nor Idaho boarder. Please, let me know ASAP. Thanking you in advance.

          • Lise says:

            I live in western Washington and plantain DOES grow here. It’s weed most people try to get rid of, like dandelions. Both narrow and broadleaf grow wild here. Just check any field, roadside, lawn, driveway, etc. It pops up everywhere. Once you see it, you’ll see it is everywhere and all over the state. Where are you looking for it?

        19. Crystal says:

          Hi Heather – do you think it would be ok to put the leaves in a food dehydrator in order to get the moisture out? We have been having so much rain (and more to come) that I am worried they will not get dry enough. I am excited to try this because my daughter has very bad reactions to bug bites and we have the plant growing all over in our yard! We live in the country too. :) Thanks!!!

        20. Gina says:

          Would the salve work with a few lavender drops included? I’ve read lavender works for bug bites too. I’m currently processing the plantation with coconut oil in the crock pot and will be adding the tea tree oil. My guess is to add the tea tree when I add the bees wax. It’s not noted when to add it.

          • Heather says:

            Hi Gina, yes you could use a bit of lavender in place of some of the tea tree. Ideally, you want to add the oils after everything has melted together and the mixture has cooled just a bit. So glad that you caught that wasn’t in the instructions – I’ll update now!

        21. lauren says:

          I think I’ll take your first idea and chew it up in my mouth, spit out the wad and place on the sting. sounds pretty perfect! Thanks

        22. Mary says:

          What does this salve do for psoraisis.

        23. Kristy says:

          I never knew about this plant. I always just pulled them up and tossed them out. Now that I know I can make my own diaper cream with them, I’m excited!!!

        24. susan williams says:

          I currently live in Michigan, and have never heard of this leaf. Do you know where I could find it??

          • Tonya C. says:

            Hi Susan, I’m in Michigan, too – the southwest part. I have both varieties in my back yard, though I’ve found the broad leaf type prefers the cracks in the sidewalk, and the narrow leaf type likes my lawn. You can easily spot them from the shoots that raise up. My Dad always called them “buckhorns”, and as the grass gets drier, the shoots are much easier to see. They’ll grow nice and tall even when the grass doesn’t.

        25. Sylvia says:

          ove this!! Will be making some!! I grew up picking this “weed” as a favorite snack for my bunnies & I know goats love it too. Probably no one knows if you can eat it, looks like a good salad green!!

          • Michelle says:

            It is excellent in salads!! Makes a great tea (traditionally used as a cough remedy). Also, all kinds of birds love it!! Chickens, ducks, even peacocks! :)

        26. Tammy says:

          Thank you for all your wonderful posts! I really enjoy your blog! What kind of crockpot do you have? I have been in search of a healthy crockpot. Thank you & best wishes to you & your family.

        27. Mira says:

          Hi Heather!
          Thank you so much for this, I’m gonna make it asap to have something on hand at all times and sell in my online store!
          In your email you said you now keep dermabond/superglue in your purse. Is there any more info you can give me on that? How to use it? Do you think one could prevent having to go to the ER? I don’t like bringing my daughter there…. but of course I would if I needed to!

        28. Vicky says:

          Hi, I’ve shared your post thinking that my young nieces with young children of their own would love to make this. An easy herb to start with.

          I have one suggestion to add: I suggest you wilt the plantain leaves before infusing them in the oil. Your points out that the leaves should be very dry but the recipe seems to be using fresh leaves — that’s why there may be water in the oil after infusing. Just put the plantain leaves on some paper-plates or on a cotton towel on a cookie sheet for the first day, Then proceed. that will remove most of the water so you won’t have to worry about bacteria forming in the oil over time. Dry plantain is just as good (as long as you dry them without too much heat — don’t bake them!).

          Another question someone had was putting the jar in a sunny window to infuse the oil. That would work fine, but longer than two days. For infusing without heat, I infuse for at least a few weeks, preferably a month, shaking the jar every day to make sure the plant material stays under the oil. If it sticks up through, press it down or add more oil to the jar.

          Great recipe and thank you for sharing.
          Auntie Vick

        29. […] all need something to protect ourselves against those nasty bug bites, so we looked, and we found a great recipe for the Plantain Salve that you can make yourself at […]

        30. Holly says:

          I should consult this with the vet, I don’t have kids just a big 70 pound dog, she goes bites all the time, never fleas though. I usually end up putting neosporin on her bite marks to help prevent itching. As much as I am in the garden, I never get bit, just scratches and torn skin.

        31. Holly says:

          Oh, when you go south, there is a veggie called plantains, they look like banans, but clearly are not when pealed and eaten. they have a cross texture of potato and a sweet starch, these aren’t the tops of this plant and is totally different, correct?

          • Amanda @ Mommypotamus Support says:

            Holly, Yes, the plantain that you’re referencing is different than the plantain in this article.

        32. Fred Leeuwenburgh says:

          As a child we lived in England and we lived rurally. I haven’t thought about this for some 50 years but when I was out “exploring the wilds” if I ever got stung by stinging nettles I would just find a plantain plant, pluck a leaf or two and mush them into/onto /all over the stung area. The pain and itch would go away and I would go back to “exploring”. Thanks for reminding me of the remedy and the fond memories.
          Fred

        33. […] Plantain Salve Recipe @ Mommypotamus […]

        34. dee m says:

          Thanks so much.. I recently had a spider bite at the base of my neck.. I chewed a Plantain leaf and made a poultice, I did this 4 times a day for 4 days. It took the pain, itch and swelling of the bite away. By chewing, this allowed me to swallow a bit, the salvia breaks down the Plantains cell wall, our saliva contains many antibacterial properties. I am looking forward to making this. I always keep a good supply of Plantain in my herb garden. :)

        35. I had no idea that the plant that we called “liar’s plant” was such a powerhouse of an herb! As kids, we would sit in the front yard in a circle around a patch of liar’s plant with the “lawyer” asking each “defendant”, “how many lies have you told today?” A leaf would be pulled and the number of strings that showed themselves at the base of the stem would indicate the number of liars that the “defendant” had told. The one with the most lies would be “It” for the next round of hide and seek.

          Now all grown and with children of our own, I am excited to run out to the yard and pick these plants with a more adult purpose.

        36. Tara says:

          I have a few questions:
          Can the salve be refrigerated? Going into summer I don’t have many cool places in the house to store the salve
          Someone asked about not using the beeswax. What is the difference if only using the leaves infused in oil vs adding the beeswax, besides consistency? What would storage for the more liquid version be?

          • Heather says:

            While it is infusing I recommend storing the oil at room temperature. Other than consistency, there is not much difference between the oil and the salve.

        37. […] Plantain Salve Recipe – Mommypotamus. This is a great post on how to make your own first aid ointment using plantain leaves. It’s great for burns, rashes, bug bites, and more. […]

        38. Tasja Williams says:

          I just made this salve. I kind of forgot that it was in the crockpot so it was in there for about 2 days. I added some tee tree,rosemary and lavender oils. It turned out so lovely! Thank you for sharing this great recipe I will be sharing this with all my friends! You are awesome!

        39. Karen says:

          Do you have a printable version?

        40. Kali Anne says:

          Wow! I never knew this as any more than a weed! These grow all over around here! My son has horrible reactions to mosquito bites and I have everything needed to make this except the bees wax! (I think I want to do the version with some lavender and tea tree oil both though). So glad I came across this recipe. I can’t wait to give it a try.

        41. Pam Lee says:

          I thought that I had plantain in my yard but when I picked a leaf there were no strings & the centre was not purple & it has 6 veins. It was a young plant also. I live in Western Canada so do you think that it might be just a different variety? Love this idea & will continue my search for the proper plant. Thanks Heather!

        42. lisa says:

          I used the quick method and coconut oil/vitamin e. When I combined the oil with beeswax, the beeswax re-solidified. I reheated the whole thing in a mason jar in a pot of water to re-melt the beeswax. It worked perfectly. I was concerned it may stain because of the color but it does not seem to do so. I am storing it in the fridge to keep it solid. Thanks!

        43. […] up I really want to make some plantain slave! Mommypotamus has a great recipe and tutorial here. I am usually prone to bug bites so I want to see how well it works. I have been using […]

        44. Amanda Baker says:

          Thank you for this! I’d heard that plantain leaves were really good for a lot of things, but always assumed they were the ‘banana’ leaves or something. Thanks for the video clip. I shared it with my daughter (she’s 7) and we went to my parents house the next day and harvested some (doing the slow version). Then today, I was talking to my friend about plantain and the great benefits of it and when my got out of the car my daughter pointed it out immediately for her. Slowly but surely making changes for the better! (unrelated, but sharing because it makes me happy – my daughter LOVES lavender EO and knows it will help with bug bites and sores – she asks for it now anytime she’s hurt!)

        45. […] Homemade First Aid Ointment […]

        46. Tara says:

          I made the Quick Version Plantain Salve. I dried out the leaves for a few days so they were very dry and then followed the directions. I decided to combine both containers of oil so I doubled the bees wax (which I finely grated) and melted it. Once the bees wax was melted I added the plantain oil and some vitamin E (after it had cooled a bit) but the oil and bees wax are separated and not mixing. I’ve stirred them together but they are staying separated (oil on top, beeswax on the bottom).

          What did I do wrong/what can I do to fix it? Please help!

          Thank you.
          Tara

        47. Eva says:

          I could start a business. I have it growing everywhere. We have just over eleven acres. I might try making the salve and hitting the local farmers markets when I set up and see what happens. Thanks!

        48. Karen says:

          You stated it can be used for acne. Has anyone used it for this? What is suggested way to use. Has anyone had success?

        49. Sarah says:

          Is this cloth diaper friendly?

        50. Awesome!! I’ve given this recipe to numerous patients since reading this article. Thank you for sharing!

        51. Lee says:

          hi there! i have been working with plantain for a few months now, and i love it! my only question is can i keep the little bits of fresh plantain in my salve? vitamin e is a good preservative so i was going to up the amount i use, do you think that would keep it from molding or going rancid? thanks so much! : )

        52. Ingrid says:

          Hi, I am from Manitoba Canada. My Mom would use fresh Plantain leaves on infected areas and it would draw the infection out amazingly well.
          She used it on; boils, cuts/sores that had gotten infected, and slivers/embedded foreign objects which needed to be drawn out.
          Does anyone know if it retains its drawing properties when prepared in this way? I only know how to use it fresh and really miss having it available in the winter.

          • lee says:

            hi ingrid! i have made an infused plantian oil with olive oil, and another one with almond oil. i put drops of it in my salves, and i’ve even used the oil straight on cuts or bug bites. so i say yes, it does retain it’s drawing out properties! : ) anything i put that oil on…BOOM! it heals!

        53. Diane says:

          I looked for this when a brown recluse bit me!!
          Just heard you on the summit with Dr. Axe too!

        54. pam says:

          How can I make it with golden seal added? And what does it do? Thanks Pam

        55. Kyla says:

          Hi there I want to make these recipe but i don’t have beeswax, What else can be used aside from beeswax? tnx :D

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