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Plantago is a genus of plants commonly called plantain. Leaves are sessile, but have a narrow part near the stem which is a pseudo-petiole. They have three or five parallel veins that diverge in the wider part of the leaf. Leaves are broad or narrow, depending on the species. Inflorescences are borne on stalks and can be a short cone or a long spike. The plant is 10-20 cm tall.

Common species are P. major, P. lanceolata, and P. psyllium.

Medicial Uses

The herb is astringent, antitoxic, antimicrobial, antiinflammatory, as well as demulcent, expectorant and diuretic.

Externally, a poultice of the leaves is useful for insect bites, poison ivy rashes, minor sores. In folklore it is even claimed to be able to cure snakebite.

Internally, it is used for coughs and broncitis, as a tea, tincture, or syrup.


Plantain seed husks expand and become mucilaginous when wet, especially those of P. psyllium, which is used in common over-the-counter bulk laxative products.

Psyllium seed is useful for constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and diverticular disease. Recent research is also showing it to be promising in lowering cholesterol and controlling diabetes.