Plantain for rashes

It’s hard to take a decent picture when both of your hands are covered in green slime!

 Mrs. Homegrown here:

A couple of days ago I made a mistake: I attacked a stand of rogue borage without gloves. You know how it is when you think you’re just going to make one pruning cut, and then end up hacking for an hour in a mindless frenzy? Borage is covered with irritating little hairs which made my hands and forearms itch and burn. I really should have known better.

Plantago major

Fortunately, our yard provides the cure for such indiscretions in the form of a nice patch of common plantain (Plantago major). This broad leaf plantain, as well as its narrow leaved cousin, Plantago lanceolata, are fantastic for easing the irritation of itchy rashes and bug bites. I harvest the leaves, dry them, and make them into salves for year round use, but when plantain is growing, it’s easiest to use it fresh. All you have to do is pick a leaf, chew on it a little, and rub the pulp on your skin. Really rub it so you get the green juices out. You’ll feel relief immediately.

Keep this in mind when you’re out in a park or hiking. Plantain grows everywhere–it’s a universal weed, and it’s particularly fond of lawns. Once you know what it looks like, you can find it easily.

Do any of you have a favorite natural cure for rashes or bug bites?

Leave a comment


  1. Aloe leaf. Break it, and apply fresh slime directly to the rash. Processed aloe is useless but fresh off the plant really works.

    Warning… even though the juice is clear, you can get a weird yellow-green stain on clothes or furniture from it.

  2. I’d have to go with clay. Seems to help draw things out of the skin. I’ve also seen jewel weed used on poison ivy to some benefit.

  3. I have read that jewel weed attaches to skin cells the same way poison ivy does (or something like that) so it can block the urushiol if it’s applied very soon after exposure. I freeze it during the summer because it’s not in prime condition for long, unlike the p.i.!

  4. I’m with anonymous: fresh aloe. The stuff once even took the sting out of a nasty break-up.

  5. PJ: I think clay is seriously undervalued

    Aloe folks: aloe is fantastic indeed, though hard to find if you’re out hiking or playing in the park. I grow it in my back yard. And yes, it does need to be used fresh.

    Jewelweed: I hear much of this plant, especially in relation to poison ivy, but I’ve never seen it. I don’t know if that’s just because I don’t know how to spot it, or if it doesn’t grow around these parts. Have to investigate…

  6. My favorite cure for ant bites is to rub the inside of a banana peel on the bite(s) for a minute. In about 30 minutes you’ll notice the bite is gone out of the bite and starting to disappear. It’s like freaky magic.

  7. I think I have plantain in my yard, but when I touch anything green, I break out in a rash that turns to blisters that lasts for weeks and often is mistaken for a nasty burn. Yes, any kind of gardening or yard work is rough for me. I must wear thick leather gloves, long pants and long sleeves or run insde and wash my arms very often. But,the inside of a banana peel might be just the thing to stop all the plant rashes I get.

  8. I love plantain and gathered seeds last fall to try to get it started in my yard. It’s never taken before, but it’s sprouting now among my seedlings. It’s such a pretty plant. I saw a purple wide leaf at Sunset Nursery but balked at the price.

  9. The spores you find on the under side of Sowrd Ferns will take care of Stinging Nettle rash.I have also used the spores as relife for bee sting.
    (we foolishly left the first aid kit in the car when hiking once and I figured it couldn’t hurt to try the spores.)
    I love the way nature usually places the cure for something nasty near by.

  10. I have applied plantain to bee stings before and it worked decently. Also chewed up tobacco takes the sting out of bee stings.
    I’ve heard the sumac helps with poison ivy. they are in the same family of plants and the First nations in my area (B.C. Canada) used it to combat poison ivy.
    Lovely blog by the way! I just found it through Ashley’s blog, Small Measures.

  11. I would love to see more posts like this with various medicinal plants from your garden with pics so we can find them too

  12. Chewed leaves of bracken fern work great for neutralizing stinging nettle rash, and the two plants commonly grow together in PNW forests.

  13. Pingback: How to Cook Broadleaf Plantain | Root Simple

  14. Ever since getting stung in the neck by a bee as a teen, I swear by onion juice. Whether it comes from an onion slice or the greens of an onion plant, it works to stop the pain and itching in an instant. Works on fire ant bites too. We keep onions planted year round to keep the medicine close at hand.

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