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Plantain skin benefits don’t come from the fried bananas in the kitchen. The plantain I’m referring to is the herb or weed–Ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata), that could be growing wild in your backyard. The use of this wild plant can be traced back to the Indigenous people of America using it to extract the venom of a snake or spider and to soothe and heal other insect bites. It was also chewed and steeped into a tea to activate other internal healing properties. It can also be traced to the 1500s where it was used to cure and treat the common cold and flu.
Today, Plantain skin benefits are being experienced around the world. It’s often found in tinctures, extracts, and oil infusions and used to treat or soothe the following skin ailments:
- Insect/Ant/Bee stings and bites
- Poison Oak/Ivy
Healing Properties of Plantain
Plantain contains bioactive compounds allantoin, catalpol, aucubin, and acteoside responsible for its many medicinal properties including:
- Astringent- The astringent properties draw out foreign and toxic deposits that get lodged within pores and below the skin’s surface layer while reducing any sores or swelling.
- Antibacterial- The antibacterial and germicidal properties prevent bacterial or viral skin infections from duplicating and aid in quicker recoveries. Studies show plantain extract has proven to heal wounds in mice whose vascular system is similar to our own.
- Anti-inflammatory- The properties of a Plantain salve help improve circulation and cool nerve endings which makes it a great natural remedy to bruising, sprains, and general pain. Some boast this alternate remedy used topically can replace Asprin and other conventional pain killers.
- Antioxidant- Plantain contains nourishing antioxidants. Parts of the plant have been extracted and studied against cancer cells. Plantain seeds demonstrated antiproliferative activity, meaning that they inhibited cell growth on tumor cells
Plantain Skin Benefits
So, how does the science that supports the efficacy of plantain and plantain extract make it an exceptional addition to your skincare routine?
Inflammatory skin conditions, such as acne and rosacea get benefits from the topical application of plantain oil. The antibacterial and germicidal substance in plantain keeps acne from spreading and cleanses open sores and irritated breakouts. Plantain oil can also be used as a spot treatment and leftover night on painful and stubborn zits. Antimicrobial properties in plantain leaves act as a catalyst in the skin regeneration process which allows the skin to heal properly from cystic acne that is known for leaving behind lifelong scars.
Soften and Smooth Skin
When skin is soft and supple pores tend to be smaller, it’s usually well hydrated, and best of all-looks youthful. Soft, smooth skin also takes to other products well and helps makeup look flawless. The polysaccharides in plantain and plantain extract create a thin, weightless barrier on the skin. This shields the top layer of skin from pollutants and helps skin appear plump and blurred.
The emollient and soothing mucilages that create a protective layer within the cell membrane of plantain is what allows it to adapt to any environment and helps it grow all year round. Those same substances act hygroscopic and attract water into the skin. The protective layer mentioned previously prevents the moisture from escaping keeping skin hydrated throughout the day even under strenuous conditions.
The culmination of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and hydrating properties that results in healthy, vibrant, toned, and deeply cleansed skin makes plantain powerful antiaging. Dryness, blemishes, and dullness are all signs of aging skin. Supplementing your antiaging skincare routine with plantain will clarify and tone your complexion and provide a myriad of healing for maturing skin.
DIY Plantain Infused Oil & Salve
The first step to your DIY plantain salve is making an infused oil. To infuse a skin-friendly oil, fill a clean and dry jar about 2/3rds with dried plantain leaves and/or stems, cover with a neutral oil like olive, jojoba, perilla, almond, or avocado. You can let this sit for 4-6 weeks in the cabinet. If you want an “instant” infusion, place dry or fresh plantain in a crockpot on low heat with the oil and let it steep for 24 hours the strain completely.
You now have plantain-infused oil that you can use. If you stop here, the infused oil can be stored in a glass dropper and used as desired.
To turn the plantain infused oil into a salve, use a 1 to 8 ratio of oil to beeswax (by weight) to make a dreamy salve consistency. A typical batch can be 8 ounces of infused oil and 1 ounce of beeswax. Using a double-boiler, gently melt the two together and pour into salve tins that commonly hold 2 ounces. Allow the salve to cool and thicken then apply as desired.
Plantain salve, balm, or oil can be applied topically anywhere on the skin. It is gentle enough for the face and effective enough to dry places like elbows, knees, and ankles where irritation is common. Rich in medicinal properties, other uses and application of plantain oil include:
- A massage oil that reduces aches and pains
- Blend with shea butter and essential oils for a daily lotion
- Fast relief for skin flare-ups
- Keep in the first aid for mild burns and insect bites
- As a natural treatment for diaper rash
Grow and Harvest Plantago Lanceolata
Plantain is suitable in nearly all soil types including sandy, and clay soils–it may even take to nutritionally poor soil. It prefers well-drained alkaline soil and cannot sustain itself in the shade. Start growing the herb inside in early spring and transplant outside in mid-spring. Or keep inside year-round with plenty of sunlight. Maintenance is low and seed life can last up to 2 years. Trim leaves and dry to be used in your DIY plantain salve.