Plantain Leaf

Plantago lanceolata
what is plantain weed?

Plantain, also known as broadleaf plantain (Plantago major), is native to Europe and certain parts of Asia. This perennial plant produces greenish flowers and has large, oval-shaped leaves that can be eaten raw or cooked.

Despite sharing its name, plantain weed is unrelated to plantain fruit, which is a type of banana.

Notably, several types of edible plantain weed belong to the same family as broadleaf plantain. These include:

  • narrowleaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata)
  • blackseed plantain (Plantago rugelii)
  • blond plantain (Plantago ovata)
  • bracted plantain (Plantago aristata)
  • Chinese plantain (Plantago asiatica)
  • buck’s-horn plantain (Plantago coronopus)
  • woolly plantain (Plantago patagonica)

Although often considered weeds, these plants all have edible leaves and seeds that have been used medicinally for centuries.


Potential health benefits of plantain weed

Preliminary studies indicate that plantain weed may have several health benefits, though more research is needed.

May decrease inflammation

While low levels of inflammation are part of your body’s healthy response to injury, chronic inflammation can lead to various illnesses.

Studies show that plantain weed may help reduce inflammation.

In particular, the leaves contain several anti-inflammatory compounds, including flavonoids, terpenoids, glycosides, and tannins (2Trusted Source).

A rat study found that administering plantain weed extract decreased several markers of inflammation caused by liver injury (2Trusted Source).

Another animal study observed similar findings, reporting that plantain weed extract significantly decreased inflammation and reduced liver enzymes to protect against liver damage (3Trusted Source).

What’s more, test-tube studies suggest that plantain seeds may decrease several markers of inflammation and slow the growth of certain cancer cells (4Trusted Source).

That said, plantain weed should not be considered a cancer remedy. Human studies are necessary to evaluate this plant’s anti-inflammatory effects.

May promote wound healing

Some research notes that plantain weed may support wound healing by reducing inflammation, blocking microbial growth, and relieving pain (5Trusted Source).

In fact, a study in 40 people found that applying a gel containing aloe vera and plantain weed helped heal foot ulcers (6Trusted Source).

Similarly, in an animal study, aloe vera and plantain weed improved wound healing and enhanced tissue repair when applied topically (7Trusted Source).

All the same, it’s difficult to determine plantain’s exact effects since these studies also used aloe vera.

In another animal study, applying only plantain weed extract to wounds helped increase the rate of healing, compared with a control group (8Trusted Source).

Still, further research is necessary.

May support digestive health

Several compounds in plantain weed’s seeds and leaves have been shown to alleviate certain digestive issues (1Trusted Source).

In particular, the seeds contain psyllium, a type of fiber often used as a natural laxative since it absorbs water as it moves through your digestive tract (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).

According to one review, plantain leaves may also slow the movement of your digestive tract, which may promote bowel regularity and help treat diarrhea (1Trusted Source).

A rat study even found that narrowleaf plantain extract promoted the healing of stomach ulcers (11Trusted Source).

Additionally, some animal studies suggest that plantain weed’s anti-inflammatory properties may aid digestive issues like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which can cause symptoms like stomach pain, bloating, and diarrhea (12Trusted Source).