The Healing Power of White Man's Foot

September 14, 2014

The Healing Power of White Man's Foot

Yes, you read that title correctly! White Man's Foot is an amazing medicinal plant native to Asia and Europe, and earned its nickname White Man's Foot because it was brought to North America by European Settlers and could be found along the trails of these new settlers.

Plantago major (Plantago lanceolata), is the actual name of this unassuming plant that grows wild just about anywhere that receives (abundant) water. Its basal rosette of thick stemmed, oval, strongly veined leaves and spikes of inconspicuous brown flower heads is often discarded as a weed. This is unfortunate because of this “weed”, like many medicinal herbs we have relegated to the kingdom of unwelcome plants, is another one of Mother Earth’s gifts to us all. It’s accessible and readily available to anyone out and about—no need to trail back inside and shorten your adventure to fetch an ointment because this plant, my friends, is a comprehensive medicinal herb that contains high amounts of allantoin, an anti-inflammatory phytochemical that speeds wound healing, stimulates the growth of new skin cells, and gives the immune system a lift. It is also an anti-fungal. My mother was the one who taught me about this herb! As an adolescent I spent a lot of time caring for my little brother; we would go on all sorts of little outings and of course, as a typical adventurer, my little brother would end up getting cut or stung. My mother added this to our repertoire of medicinal herbs in our first aid kit, except this one didn’t need to be stored in a kit. She taught us how to identify and harvest the plantain leaf right from the ground. She would pop a cleaned leaf into her mouth and macerate it with her teeth to make a poultice, and then apply it to my brother’s wound. It never failed to stop the bleeding, cleanses the infection and soothe the pain or itch (when stung). I now continue this tradition of herbal healing with my two boys, and even hubby when out and about on an adventure.


Healing with Plantago Major

Today there are many studies exploring the traditional use of Plantago major across the world. It was found that in Europe, Plantago major was used as early as the 1500s to cure dog bites, boils, fever, and flu. It was one of the nine sacred herbs in the Anglo-Saxon medicinal text. In Bosnia, this herb was revered in its herbal healing balm, which was used to cure a wide range of ailments such as urogenital tract disorder, gastrointestinal disorder, various forms of psoriasis and topical wounds, nervous and cardiovascular disorder, and rheumatism. Balms were made with fresh macerated plant, warm resin, honey, olive oil, and cow or pig lard. Native Americans used this herb to cure rattlesnake bites. In Mexico and other parts of the world, including here in the US, Plantago major is becoming more frequently used to cure upper respiratory problems such as coughs, congestion and bronchitis because of its invaluable anti-inflammatory and demulcent properties, which forms a soothing film over a mucous membrane, relieving minor pain and inflammation of the membrane.

When you are out enjoying this beautiful weather look for Plantago major. You can even harvest a few leaves and toss them in your salad. They are great for digestion, they help cleanse your blood and are rich in vitamin A, C, and K! You really don’t need to grow it in your garden since they are abundant in nature, but, I like to have it growing in my garden for an endless supply. It also ensures that I don’t get traces of dog urine or feces.

Different uses:

1. A tea made with 3 cups of water and ¾ tsp of the dry herb is recommended for people with bronchitis or dry cough. A tea can also be used as an eye wash.

2. Plantain tincture can be taken to help respiratory tract infection and digestive problems.

3. Salves and poultices can be made to apply topically onto wounds, bites, infections, blisters, eczema, rashes, acne and thrush (studies conducted in Brazil have shown the usefulness of this herb in fighting candida, the yeast that causes thrush around nipples, mouth, and vagina aka yeast infection)

4. In a salad!

It's all in nature!


[1] Margaret L. Ahlborn. History of plantain. From Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

[2] Sarić-Kundalić B, Dobes C, Klatte-Asselmeyer V, Saukel J. Ethnobotanical study on medicinal use of wild and cultivated plants in middle, south and west Bosnia and Herzegovina. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Aug 19;131(1):33-55. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2010.05.061. Epub 2010 Jun 8.



[5] Holetz FB, Pessini GL, Sanches NR, Cortez DA, Nakamura CV, Filho BP. Screening of some plants used in the Brazilian folk medicine for the treatment of infectious diseases. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2002 Oct;97(7):1027-31.

1 Response

Bhupinder singh
Bhupinder singh

April 19, 2020

What about its roots uses

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