You may have noticed this plant around your neighbourhood, but do you know it's amazing medicinal benefits?
Image via Agriculture Victoria
Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata)
Botanical Family: Plantaginaceae (Plantain)
Parts used: Leaf
Other Common Names: Buckhorn Plantain, English plantain, Lanceleaf Plantain, Narrow-Leaf plantain, Strapleaf Plantain
The Plantago species appears in texts by the Greek physician Dioscorides (c. 40-90 AD), the Angle Saxons, and in folklore of indigenous people of Australia, New Zealand, and the Untied States.
It is used by herbalist for coughs, wounds, inflamed skin and insect bites.
Constituents: Ribwort contains the glycosides, aucubin and catalpol, and the flavonoids apigenin and luteolin, mucilage, tannins, pectins and saponins.
Main Actions: Anticatarrhal (helps to clear mucus from sinus), demulcent (soothing to mucus membranes), astringent, anti-inflammatory
Respiratory tract infections including colds, flus, sinusitis, hay fever, ear infection, bronchitis, coughs. Due to its anticatrrhal effects on the upper and lower respiratory tract it is great a expelling mucus. Its mucilage content makes it soothing and anti-inflammatory to the respiratory tract.
Stomach ulcers and gastritis. Due to its demulcent action it helps to create a protective layer over the damaged area to help with healing.
Topically for leg ulcers and varicose ulcers due to its astringent and would healing effect.
UTIs and bladder infections, due to its demulcent and soothing effect on mucus membranes (which also live in the urinary tract).
Clinical Research for Respiratory Tract Infections
A German review confirmed the used of Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata) for respiratory tract infections. The research showed anti-inflammatory, anti-spasm and immune stimulating actions. The studies recommends Ribwort for chronic coughs, especially in children.
A multi-centre study of 593 patients used Ribwort cough syrup (using an ethanol extract of Ribwort) to treat coughs. After 3-14 days of treatment the intensity and frequency of coughing was reduced by 67% and 66%. Chest pain decreased by 80%, irritative cough and shortness of breath by 69%. the results were assessed by doctors and patients and the results showed great similarity.
Image via Agriculture Victoria
Uses at home:
Ribwort is considered a weed, you can often find it on the side of the road in your neighbourhood. Grab yourself a good weed identification book if you aren't confident in identifying.
The young leaves can be eaten cooked or raw. They are quite fiberous and bitter, but the young leaves are a bit softer and less pungent. You can simply add a few leaves to smoothies.
You can make it into a tea with the fresh leaves. It is especially great to have with honey for soothing coughs.
You can crush up the leaves and apply to the skin for cuts, burns and insect bites.
Tinctures are also a great option and something that I use commonly in my clinic
Ribwort and Rosemary Vinegar Hair Rinse
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) hair rinses are an easy, natural way to improve the health of your hair.
Benefits of ACV on hair:
Clarifies and removes styling product residue
Doesn’t strip hair’s natural oils
Balances scalp’s natural PH
Adding herbs like Ribwort and Rosemary can help further improve hair health.
Ribworts anti-inflammatory, soothing and wound healing properties make it a great addition to hair-care routines.
Rosemary has shown to promote hair growth, prevent hair loss, reduce scalp irritation, and boost strength and shine.
How to make a hair rinse
I like to infuse the apple cider vinegar with the herbs for a few weeks to ensure the herbal chemicals are extracted from the plant.
Get a few sprigs of rosemary and a handful of ribwort leaves. Chop/rip them up and add to a small jar, top up with ACV (with the mother)- about 100mL
Leave this for a week or 2 in the fridge
Strain the ACV using a strainer and muslin cloth into a measuring jug
Add 200mL of filtered water to the jug. You want 2 parts water to 1 part ACV.
Add to a bottle or jar ready for use
How to use
The rinse is best done once a week or fortnight.
Carefully pour the rinse over your scalp and gently massage it in
Then pour the rinse of the rest of your hair and let sit for 1-2 minutes before rinsing with water
You can use the rinse in a few different ways:
as a final rinse, after shampooing and conditioning,
in between your shampoo and conditioner,
at the beginning of your shower, before shampooing (the go-to method if the smell really bothers you).
The Herbal Extract Company of Australia (Practitioner Only Monograph) Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata)
Bone, K 2007, The Ultimate Herbal Compendium
Wegner, T, Kraft, K 1999. Plantain (Plantago lanceolata L.) anti-inflammatory actions in upper respiratory tract infections, (Review) Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift, vol. 149 (8-10), pp. 211-6
Kraft, K 1997. Therapeutic profile in a ribwort herb fluid extract in acute respiratory illness in children and adults. Phytopharmaceuticals III. Research and Clinical Applications