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Grandma Called it Medicine Leaf – Plantain Weed Remedies

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Plantain weed is good medicine, from seed to root. In this article, I'll share how I came to know plantain, and how to use the fresh leaves and dried leaves for natural remedies such as salve and tea.

broadleaf plantain weed leaf

Plantain Weed – Grandma's “Medicine Leaf”

Grandma Catherine
Grandma Catherine

When I was a little girl, my father's mother, Catherine, and I were very close. Mom was awfully busy trying to raise six kids and run a farm by herself, so I spent a lot of time with grandma (I'm the baby of the family).

Grandma had ever-bearing strawberries that she would pick as soon as they showed a blush of red, so the birds didn't get them. There were always hollyhocks and poppies, the yellow transparent apple tree, lilacs, roses and a small vegetable garden.

Grandma and I would dance and sing on the front lawn, and every Saturday night we had a “date” watching HeeHaw.

I remember grandma pointing to a broad leaf plant in the yard and calling it “medicine leaf”. She told me the Native Americans use to use it for medicine, but we never used it ourselves.

A New Look at Old Medicine

Fast forward about 30 years. I started hanging out with the grandmother of some boys in our local homeschool group, and she showed me how to use plantain leaf to make an infused oil.

It turns out grandma's “weed” was actually broadleaf plantain (Plantago major), and it's close to miraculous for treating bug bites, stings and many other ailments.

Using plantain weed opened the door to my curiosity about the use of many common weeds. It truly changed my life, and that's why I chose it for the logo of the website.

Common Sense Home Logo

Now I look at wild plants with fresh eyes. (Many of them were carefully carried by settlers as food and medicine.) It's a great feeling to know that I can find simple remedies almost anywhere.

I'm not the only one taking notice of plantain. The 2018 study “Plantago major in Traditional Persian Medicine and modern phytotherapy” looks at a wide range of medicinal uses of plantain, including treatment of:

  • epilepsy
  • eye disease
  • toothaches and other oral health problems
  • earaches
  • pulmonary disorders
  • gastrointestinal trouble
  • liver disease
  • urinary tract issues
  • skin diseases

Note: For more detailed information on how to to identify plantain and food uses of plantain, see “Broadleaf Plantain – The “Weed” You Won’t Want to Be Without – Weekly Weeder #14“.

How to Use Fresh Plantain Leaf to Treat Insect Bites, Stings and Other Skin Irritation

The first time I put plantain weed to the test was for treating a wasp sting.

I was at my Great Uncle's house scrubbing egg off a plate with a metal scouring pad, when “the pad” stabbed me. I set the scrubber down and out crawls a large black wasp. (Bill told me after the fact that, “Oh yes, he had seen some of those around.”  I guess it didn't like being used to scrub plates.

My finger started swelling and burning. I ran cold water on the sting, and yelled for my son to run outside and grab some plantain. He came back in a matter of minutes with a nice, healthy leaf, and into my mouth it goes. Chew, chew, chew –  spit it out – onto the bite.

The worst of the pain subsided within minutes. I wrapped the green blob onto my finger with a band-aid and left it there for the rest of the afternoon and evening. (Plantain tastes very green, in case you're wondering.)

Here's what the sting looked like at the end of the day:

wasp sting

Note:  insect damage is very clear, but there is no sign of inflammation or swelling (no welt). There was no pain at all the following day. The last time I was stung, the welt lasted for several days. This was so much better.

To use Plantain Leaves for Bites and Stings

  • Find a clean leaf
  • Chew or otherwise mash it to release juices
  • Apply to affected area until pain/itching subsides

A plantain poultice also helps to heal cuts and incisions.

Plantain Weed for Slivers

Plantain has a natural drawing and anti-inflammatory action. This helps to reduce swelling, but it also helps to draw out slivers.

Simply crush or chew your plantain leaf, place it over the area with the sliver, bandage and leave overnight. In the morning the sliver should easily pop out.

You can use fresh plantain juice to treat poison ivy, sunburn and other skin irritations, but infused oil or salve is easier to apply.

I visited my brother recently and he had some enormous plantain weed leaves. (My brother now lives in grandma's old house.)  Some of the leaves were nearly the size of a sheet of paper. Here's one of them next to a quart Mason jar for comparison.

plantain leaf

How to Make Plantain Infused Oil

Gather Plantain Leaves

First, gather up a bunch of plantain leaves. Minor damage is fine, but avoid mold or other signs of spoilage. Pick enough leaves to fill your container of choice. (Small jars work well.)

Wash and Prep Leaves

Wash the leaves and dry thoroughly. (I run mine through the salad spinner and pat dry with a towel.) You want these as dry as possible to help prevent mold in your infusion.

Finely chop the leaves and pack them into your jar until full. Cover leaves with olive oil or fractionated coconut oil. Poke/stir with a chopstick or other implement to remove air bubbles. Place lid on jar, label and date.

Infuse the Oil

I keep the jar in a sunny window for at least two weeks (usually four to six weeks), stirring daily to make sure the leaves stay below the oil. After several days it will start to smell like pepperoni – this is normal.

Sunlight exposure during this stage helps to prevent mold, but you don't want the oil to get extremely hot.

Decant and Pack for Storage

Decant the oil (strain out the plant material) in four to six weeks. I use my jelly bag strainer. The oil is now ready to use.

For longer storage, allow the decanted oil to settle for a few days, then bottle the finished oil in dark jars. You may get sediment or water in the bottom as the oil settles – try to keep this out of your finished product by pouring off the oil carefully.

Seal the bottles, label, and store in a cool, dry, dark place.

Using Plantain Infused Oil

My first test of plantain oil came after an evening in the garden with a voracious cloud of mosquitoes. I rubbed catnip on my exposed skin, but they bit right through my shorts!

I must have had at least 20 bites on my tush. Oh man, did it itch! I took a quick shower and coated all my bites with some plantain oil. Again, within a matter of minutes, the pain and itching subsided.

plantain weed salve

Simple Plantain Weed Salve

Plantain infused oil is great for covering larger areas, but plantain salve is nice for spot treating bites, stings or hemorrhoids.

Use 1 tablespoon of finely chopped beeswax for every ounce of plantain infused oil. Stir the oil and wax together over low heat until the oil is melted.

For more details, see “How to Make a Salve with Infused Oils“.

Plantain Leaf Tea

For internal use, try plantain leaf herbal tea.

Place one heaping teaspoon of crumbled dried leaves or one to two fresh leaves in a mug. Cover with boiling water and infuse for ten minutes. Strain and drink, adding a little honey for sweetness, if desired.

Drink a mug of plantain tea three times per day to help clear out colds and soothe digestion.

plantain juice with honey

Plantain Juice with Honey

This plantain weed remedy is recommended in Backyard Medicine for coughs and stomach ulcers. It can also be used externally for ulcers and other sores. (Honey also has a long history of medicinal use.)

Juice fresh plantain leaves and mix the juice with an equal amount of honey. Pour into sterilized bottles and keep in a cool location.

Dose: 1 teaspoon as needed for coughs, 1 tablespoon three times daily for stomach ulcers.

Note: Ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata) works best for juicing, but any plantain variety has similar medicinal properties.

Get Plantain Products and Seeds Online

Want someone else to prep the oil for you, or don't have plantain readily available?

You can get plantain infused oil, plantain seeds, dried plantain leaf, powdered plantain, plantain extract, and plantain infused lip balm.

Have you used plantain? Do you have a favorite recipe or tip to share? I'd love to hear from you.

plantain leaves on cutting board

You may also enjoy:

Originally posted in 2010, updated in 2019.

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180 Comments

  1. Why unbelievable! My grandma used to talk about the "medicine leaf" too! (My great-grandmother was 1/2 Native American). Wonderful post. Now that I'm older I should sit and talk to my grandma about it (without thinking its cookie talk).

    God Bless

      1. A juicer would probably work the best, but make sure to dice the leaves first or the strings are likely to plus the juicer. You may be able to blend and mash through a strainer, but the leaves are not very juicy.

  2. Yeah – talk to grandma while you still can! There are so many questions I wished I had asked my mom and grandmas while they were still here. I guess I'll have to remember to ask when we finally see each other again.

    I love this stuff, and it's SO EASY.

  3. You have got to be kidding me Laurie!!! You are not going to believe this! I was SEARCHING forever online trying to figure out what this weed was in my backyard that my chickens have been enjoying! This is it!!!!! Oh my wow, I'm so excited you don't even know! My backyard is literally FILLED with plantain! Ah… I am so making this and excited that my chickens are getting some sort of benefit from eating it, ha! I'm SO GLAD you submitted this to Simple Lives Thursday. Thanks Laurie!!

    1. I also noticed that our chickens like plantain A LOT and havea goal of collecting enough to give them each the equivalent of 2 leaves of dried, crumbled leaves a couple times a week mixed into their mash.
      One thing I have noticed is that they will not eat it if it has any traces of powdery mildew, which can be barely visible when it starts to appear. It gets a slightly frosty look when fog or cool, rainy weather sets in for a few days.
      They eagerly eat the plantain until that point each Summer, and after that and won’t touch it.
      Fortunately, it grows all over the meadow areas of our property. too and a little hunting can turn up a patch that grows so sparsely it dries too quickly to mildew. The fool-proof way to check for that is to offer it to a hen!

  4. Diana – too funny! You're very welcome. Plantain is wonderful stuff. You can also turn this oil into a salve by heating gently and adding some beeswax. My batch was finally ready to decant, so I made salve along with the oil. It works just as well on mosquito bites.

  5. Awesome post Laurie – I've long known I could use this somehow but I never knew how. I especially love the part where you chewed your own poultice!

  6. Thank you for this post! I am fairly new to herbal remedies and am currently planning and plotting a medicinal herb garden for next spring. I am DEFINITELY adding plantain to the seed list and cannot wait to make some oil and salve. We live in the country and bee/wasp stings are a way of life…now my boys can get a little comfort when stung!
    Thanks again!
    JoAnn

  7. We LOVE plantain. Our bunnies do too 🙂

    You can also heal your gums with it, clean your teeth with it, or use it to stop a toothache. Roll some up chew it lightly, then stick it between your cheek and gums. Sleep with it there and then remove in the morning and brush with plain water.

  8. Oooooo…chickiepea, thanks for sharing the tips! I like quick and easy. Have you ever done anything with the seeds? I harvested a bunch this fall (with the plan to plant some in an orderly fashion next spring). I know they make psyllium fiber from the seeds, but I'm not sure about the methodology or exactly what type of plantain.

  9. We have comfrey leaf and do all of the above with comfrey although I have long wanted to plant some plantain to add to it. Thanks for the post!

  10. Thanks for commenting, Janelle. I received some comfrey from a friend of mine. It was quite small when I got it, so I've been givign the patch time to get established, but I'm looking forward to experimenting with it this season,

    1. I’ve used comfrey dry leaves store in airtight jar after crushing. Mix with water enough to moisten ( like a paste) put on bites, skin irritations. My friend had a flesh eating, put poultice on. Hadn’t had a problem since. Been 3 yrs. Comfrey is awesome

    2. Hello
      Made a salve with plantain,comfrey, calendula ,essential oils.
      Turned out to be a true miracle salve imo ! Wrote every ingredient & step I took down & lost it. So devastated over that, so keep your “recipts”close!That was done by stovetop. Had trouble with cold infusion, mold developed. I’ve been afraid to do the sunny window method because of the heat I get in my only sunny window. Thinking it would cause plant matter & oil to spoil. A sunny window with no direct sun, is that right? But I’ve read others just put it directly in the sun, I’m a bit confused…
      Oh! The deep fried herb thing….mine were definitely crunchy that first time. That was directly in a pot on gas burner at lowest possible flame for hours. I recently got a double boiler & am curious to see if herbs stay softer this way.
      Have been gathering & drying all the plantain I can, there’s a competition between chickens, flea beetles(they love it!) & i expect mildew soon from all the wet weather we’ve been getting.
      Backyard medicine and commonsense at home…you bet!

      1. The way I learned (and some frown on this) is sunny window with sun exposure. If the leaves have a high moisture content, keep the lid off and cover with a cloth and rubber band instead, so the excess moisture can evaporate. Stir daily, pushing the plant material below the oil.

  11. Thanks for your comments on my post Laurie, I think our Grandmas would have made great friends 🙂 I learned many natural ways from her as well.

  12. You're welcome. I've often wondered if you get to meet up with new people in heaven. My mom and a close friend's mom both passed away recently, and I wonder if they've gotten a chance to meet and compare notes.

  13. Hi, I'm visiting from the Barn Hop. This is a great post, very informative! I dabble a little bit in herbal medicine and tried eating plantain before (as you say, it's very green tasting!) I am going to make up some of this oil and definitely try the poultice next time I get stung. I'm a beekeeper and also allergic to wasps, so I'll be eager to see how it works!

  14. Journey11 – thanks for stopping by. I hope the plantain poultice is helpful for you. I'm not allergic, but it worked amazingly quickly for me so hopefully it will provide you some relief, too.

  15. Wow – I had no idea and I have that "weed" in my yard. Good to know it's so useful!

  16. Manuela – many of our "weeds" are very useful. Yet another reason not to spray herbicides and pesticides. 🙂

  17. Lovely post on my favorite medicinal herb. I love that it grows everywhere. They say that it grows wherever mosquitoes live and wherever nettles grow… funny how God provides the perfect remedy right where it is needed, eh?
    I have been wondering how to best preserve it though since our fresh season is so short. I've just put it in freezer bags and tossed it in the freezer… the whole leaves are nice for larger burns. Now I will have easy access to a ready remedy when I preserve it in oil!

  18. I just made salve from this year's oil. So nice to have it available for easy application, and I agree about it growign right where it's needed.

  19. We keep some, dried — but never get around to using that — there's almost always some in the yard when we need it. It was called "soldier weed" in our family and they said it used to be applied to punctures such as arrow wounds (!!) Dunno about that but seems to help with things like blackberry scratches.

    1. That remindet me of the “Schwertsalbe” (sword salve in direct translation) as my great grandma used to say. Not that I remember her saying it as she died when I was 4. Thats a salve made from Tagetes/Marigolds. Apparently it was used in the middle ages to treat sword wounds.

      I saved tons of seeds last year. Grows really easily and provides tons of seeds and is a good companion plant to many vegetables as well as attractive for bees.

  20. risa bear – that's interesting! Thankfully, we haven't had the opportunity to try is on arrow wounds, but I could understand how it would work.

        1. Has anyone used plantain for blackfly/gnat bites? It’s a weeks worth of itching every time I get bitten by these miserable bugs.

          1. Yes. We don’t have them here (thankfully), but I’ve been bitten at a friend’s place. Plantain doesn’t knock out the bite completely, but significantly reduces the itch and speeds healing.

          2. Yes! I have been making plantain oil and salve for a year now and I tried it on my Turkey gnat bites I got at the beginning of this week. It stopped the itch right away and the bites are already healing. Like you, those bites have always lasted a week or more in the past and I even developed cellulitis once. This discovery has been a real life saver for me. I make enough to share with friends and relatives and have made a batch to take to our local free store for the unhoused and they are asking for more!

          3. That’s great! Thank you for sharing your experience. to my knowledge, we don’t have turkey gnats around here, so it’s helpful to hear from other locations.

  21. my wife will have poison ivy every spring, its in her blood, plantain is the best to stop the itch..will not prevent the itch but will stop the itching within minutes..just crush it up real good and rub it on, works everytime for her and others that i have used it on..plantain is the first herb that i go to for any skin irritations.. have seen it bring temporary relieve to those with shingles..

  22. Hi Laurie,
    My son had poison ivy on his knuckle, leg, neck, etc…etc. I had read on your blog about plantain major and how it works wonders for skin irritations. I’m new to herbal usage (and so was he) but decided to give it a shot. I picked a bunch and gave it him telling him it was a miracle herb for ivy. After a few days of no relief from the itching using OTC meds, he gave the plantain major a try. Overnight the blisters subsided and the spreading stopped.

    Thanks for the great blog topic.
    Dave

  23. Hmm i have a problem and that is plants i see and pictures never seem to match for me . What i need is someone around here to walk with me and tell me names of things . I know some andi do tons of research and i make tinetures for myself as i find it more benefitful for myself . I do eat wild garlic /chives . onion , dandelion ,etc ihave read many leaves are good including strawberry leaves [ how about that ] now i see black berry leaves ok too . I learned night shades like tomatoe leaves not supposed to eat i have but not supposed to . so i wish i could find someone near me who can help me learn more of whats what . Likei also eat rose petals good for me i save the buds and i learn daily on different things that one can eat from the plants God blessed us with . Want to learn more an more as this way one never goes with out food since so many wild foods one can consume . I am thankful that Homestead posted your site on FB . star

    1. Try contacting your local USDA extension office and ask someone to come look, walk and talk with you for plant identification. Not all areas have staffing to do so, but will allow you to bring a plant in and identify it for you at no charge. Telephone contact numbers are under the federal office numbers or county government section in most telephone books.

  24. Love to use Plantain ever since I learned its uses from a Native American woman. I use the fresh leaves – unchewed as a styptic and have had luck with the dried as well. Have had terrible cuts on the farm that looked like they needed stitches but I wrapped them tight with plantain and they healed beautifully. Just recently I made a rookie mistake with a sharp knife and am I glad I died some Plantain this summer. Put it on the cut and within a minute stopped the bleeding. A miracle plant as far as I’m concerned!

  25. So, I live in Haiti…does this apply to the plantain plant leaves we have here as well? Because they are alllll over the place and that would be nice to know if they provided the same medicinal qualities…thanks for the education!! God bless you!
    Sarah

    1. I would compare pictures. The plantain leaf I am familiar with here in NC is definitely not the same as the plantains that I had in the Dominican Republic. Our plantains do not bear fruit and are considered a weed in the grass.

  26. hi laurie, amazingly true article. thanku for sharing established knowledge from an incredible source. many organic plantains on my farm, and surrounding 3,000 acres of deciduous forest for wildcrafting. plantains hold remarkable food properties as well as topical body care applications. gem

      1. Do you think coconut oil would work because they say that in itself has wonderful healing qualities to it. The two together might be 1+1=3 ???

  27. Glad to see someone forging a safer life. Good post.
    Why use only the ones the bugs have not bitten? If the bugs will chomp on it – the plant is better for humans and the bug chomp can be cut out.
    Can also use Sweet almond oil, olive oil – grapeseed oil is antioxidant and astringent – good for skin preparations such as this (making this oil does not require heating on the stove so there is no drawback to using grapeseed oil here; all oils, particularly medicinal oils should be kept from the light and stored in dark brown glass bottles.)
    Sesame oil and coconut oil are antibacterial (coconut oil must be melted – I would add the melted coconut oil to the extract oil made with sesame oil).
    Keep the oil in the dark while making and storing – light defeats the efficacy of your product.
    You can strain with fine mesh screening – remove the ring and disk, replace the disk with the mesh, screw the ring on – turn it upside down (if you can prop it securely), set it upside down in the canning funnel and let it drain all day/overnight – store in glass bottle (preferably dark brown) with pump for dispensing.
    To “protect and preserve” add rosemary leaves and a little tea tree oil.

    1. A comment I have often seen in discussions about the merits of organic gardening is that a healthy plant will get less bothered by bugs than one that is stressed or grown in stressed soil, which is what eventually results when using chemical fertilizers. So if a wild plant is being nibbled on by bugs, it may be stressed or deficient in some way in nutrients that are an important aspect of the therapeutic qualities of the herb. Plantain is a double blessing in that it grows well in different kinds of soil and in a fairly wide range of conditions. It also seems to germinate through most my growing season, so the immature leaves, which taste less intense can often be found at the same time as more mature leaves. Young leaves will have more tender fibers that extend from the stem up through the leaf, something else that makes them more palatable. A wide border of it makes an effective living mulch that seems to discourage more invasive weeds from getting into my raised beds as well as helping to hold moisture. I’m so mosquito-phobic/allergic that I cover up pretty thoroughly before going into the garden. This article is giving me a great deal more confidence in grabbing for a leaf when bit, and I am going to start a jar of the oil tomorrow. One of my first great gardening mistakes in the Midwest was squatting to do some weeding wearing knit pants. Twenty bites sounds about right, and it was in the area of maximum stretch across my butt. Sitting down for the next week was an unforgettable lesson in dressing properly for the garden. Wish I’d know about my treasured friend plantain then.

      1. It’s on the to do list to start a fresh batch this week. I have a ton of plantain volunteers in our attached greenhouse, which makes them nice and easy to pick.

        There are conflicting trains of thought on the bug eaten versus not bug eaten plants. One, as you said Sandy, is that a chewed plant is stressed in some way, making it less than optimally healthy, which is why it gets chewed.

        The folks that promote using the chewed leaves are generally in the camp that favors the argument that plants will change their chemistry to fight off the bug attack, boosting the level of antioxidants and other active compounds in the leaves, making chewed leaves a better choice for medicine making.

        Another factor in play is the bug saliva or feces. Often I don’t wash the leaves, especially if there has been rain recently. Saliva and feces contain bacteria that will speed decomposition, which of course is not what we’re looking for in an oil that we want to preserve.

        Addressing Vicki’s earlier comment, when using fresh plant material, sunlight exposure while the plant is in the oil helps prevent mold. This is generally not an issue with dried plant material, which can be infused in the dark or gently on the stovetop. Once the fresh plant material is removed, risk of spoilage decreases.

  28. I use plantain for bee stings and bug bites. I just scrunch it up to expose the juices and then rub hard on the itchy area. It works wonders for me. Very fast. I also have taped it to my bee stings with a bandaid. That was effective to eliminate the pain and let me keep working in the yard.

  29. Hi,
    I just love love love plantain.i am so happy with it…it has cured many different things for me and my kids. I decided to also make the oil, done the same way as mentioned above and it really works. I made it about 3 months ago,it’s strained of course,and only now noticing sediment at the bottom of jar and when I tipped it I can see floaties! :/ is it still ok? Do I just strain again and will be ok? Or is it bad? Doesn’t smell bad,just sediment. Please let me know…thankyou so much.

  30. Has anyone used plantain for internal issues such as peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome,asthma or sinusitis? A friend of mine her daughter who is 17 has ulcers and possibly irritable bowel syndrome I’m looking for something natural that will help her.
    Thanks

  31. Hi, I have only ever noticed thin leaf plantain in my area, (although I’m probably just not paying enough attention for broad leaf) there is some growing in my yard/driveway right now. Does the thin leaf variety have the same medicinal properties?

      1. The property we bought had a garden patch from a several times past owner. The soil is is variable, but it is obvious where the general boundaries are because of the medicinal herbs that toughed out years of drought and neglect. Common/Broad-leafed plantain has spread all over the property, but the narrow-leafed, which I have seen referred to as Chinese plantain, was in just a little patch, and I left it alone to multiply on its own. It appeared in a new lasagna bed, and while “guiding” it into a more convenient location I noticed that in addition to cheery little spikes of florets, it spreads under surface by a root that sprouts shoots at intervals, much like many of the field plants on our property. I am going to make a small batch of this to compare with my broad leafed plantain infusion.

        I’m having fun doing my plantain shaking dance every morning. I spent a little time compulsively trying to get those little air bubbles out and discovered a quick technique. The finale for each performance is now about 30 seconds of vortexing the bottle. I rest the bottom of the jar on the palm of my right hand and rapidly rotate the top counterclockwise with my left. It looks like the top is spinning in one direction and the bottom is rocking in the other. The bubbles head right to the top in seconds. I tried doing it the opposite way, and found that the lid started to unscrew itself–bad move with that much oil to spill! I haven’t ever read this in oil infusion instructions. If you try it, Laurie, I’d love to know if it works with other herbs, and with herbs that are prepared differently than with slicing them into chiffonade. It occurs to me that my comfrey is big enough now to make a good sized batch. I have yarrow and nettle, but those did not grow as profusely this year, not sure I want to cut them back any more than I have to feed them to my chickens.

  32. My family made fun of me ‘picking weeds’ and making everything homemade until we got into a patch of chiggers and poison ivy. Out came the plantain salve I had stored in the cabinet. Chigger relief was almost immediate with redness and swelling gone by morning. Poison ivy disappeared in 4 days. Made believers out of them! Always keep it handy and it is the first thing they use now. I also have a comfrey plant and must give one word of caution, become familiar with the adverse properties of the plant. It can cause liver problems if over used. Glad to find this sight wonderful posts on stuff I use and am learning more about every day.

    1. That’s usually the easiest way to convert someone – just let them see the plants in action. 🙂

      As I understand it, you would have to use quite a bit of comfrey to cause problems, but it’s always good to exercise caution when using any medicinal plant.

  33. I’ve used the plantain poultice on mosquito bites and it works almost instantly! Often I would get welts from the mosquito bites, but not when I’m able to put some plantain on it right away.

    I also made my first plantain salve this summer. Haven’t had a lot of need to use it yet, but I’m ready!

    The one thing I want to try for next summer is to see how I can incorporate more into my diet. It grows all over and I would like to use it more.

  34. I discovered how powerful this stuff was when I slashed my hand deeply on a very aggressive Blackberry bush. I’d read about using it as a poultice, but had no idea what would happen. I grabbed a leaf, chewed and spat it out on the cuts.(Nothing ventured, nothing gained, eh?) Immediately the pain went! I left it on there for a few minutes, held in place with another plantain leaf, and when I took it off to have a look, all I saw was a series of white lines! We’re talking 10 minutes here! The edges of the cuts had already began to seal shut again! WOAH!!!

    I showed the plant and the result to all the kids I was with so the’d know about it for future reference too. A while later I met a farmer who had a nasty gash on his arm. Found a couple of leaves and showed him how to do it. He was sure I was nuts, but after a bit of good natured bullying from me, he tried it. Same result, much deeper wound. His eyebrows nearly met his hairline in amazement!

    This all happened while my family was living in Albania. Broad leafed Plantain is a very wide spread plant!

    1. Thanks for sharing your story. Plantain is usually the first wild medicinal plant I introduce people to, because it’s widespread, easy to identify, and as you’ve seen, it works fast!

  35. I used it on my sons boils years ago – and it really helped – I just put the leaf on top of the boil and put gauze over the top…………..I did not know of all the other useful things………….

  36. Nice to know and learned more about the importance of plantain in our environment and it’s medicinal wonders.still one of my favourites.grows it in my plantation,considering make the oil commercial. but will all species be good because down here(west Africa),we have much of”must paradisiaca”.still want to know it’s effective on peptic and duodenal ulcer.thank you.

    1. You could mash the leaf and apply it directly as a poultice, tucking it into place for a short period of time when you are less active (like a bedtime) and removing in the morning and showering. To make it easier to apply, I’d infuse it into an oil, make the oil into a salve, and then apply the salve.

  37. Can it be, that the plant looks different leaf-wise in a different part of the world, in Romania? The variation is still good for all the descriptions/afflictions given?

  38. I have eat plantin all my life.I cook it just like mustard greens.It is really good,i love the flavor of it.Does it really cause liver damage?I live in Kentucky where,it grows every where.

  39. Anyone ever try using the oil, salve or muddled leaves on Shingles? What would be your second choice for oil to use if not Olive Oil. Finances are an issue and Olive oil can be costly. Thanks. Love your webpage. 🙂

    1. Olive oil is really the only liquid oil I trust to stay shelf stable at room temp, other than fractionated coconut oil, which is even more expensive. I don’t use most liquid oils because they become rancid quickly, or are already rancid and/or genetically modified. Seed and nut based oils require the least processing, but most are not shelf stable and are more expensive than olive oil. Good quality lard could be used as a base if you infused it with heat. Could you possibly barter with a friend for just a cup of olive oil? A smaller batch works just fine. No need to buy a large amount of oil.

  40. Interested in using medicine leaf to stop smoking! I have it growing here anyhow and really need something that makes me quit! Do you know how to consume it for this purpose?

    1. From the permies.com forums: (http://www.permies.com/t/22063/medicinal-herbs/quit-smoking)

      “Not only does plantain reduce cravings for cigarettes, it also reduces lung inflammation and helps to clean out the lungs. Available as a tea, tincture (alcohol extract), a quit-smoking spray, or as a dried herb in many health food stores, it is easy to take advantage of its health-promoting properties.

      If you choose the dried herb, simply add one teaspoon to a cup of boiling water, steep for at least 10 minutes then drink before you reach for a cigarette. Many people find they’ll be butting out soon afterward since the craving is gone. You may also feel like you’ve had enough before you finish that cigarette.”

  41. Is plantain leaf also called Burdock? Not sure what I’m looking for. Would love to find some. We have “poke weed” growing right outside our door that hubby picks when he gets poison ivy.

  42. This post came in really handy. After reading it, I walked out into my yard and found two plantains growing in the yard next to the corner of the house, picked two fair-sized leaves, minced them up, mixed and mashed them up with a small amount of olive oil, them applied it to a suspected spider bite on my leg that was itching me to death. Worked like a charm. Itching subsided to nothing. Thanks for the information! I’m sure it will come in handy again in the future…

  43. Hey Laurie and all other readers…my 87 year old mother has had an very large ulcer on her lower leg for over 10 months now. She has, in her lower extremities(legs), compromised blood flow. She has had emergency surgery (when I first found the wound/ulcer that she had let go for months, it was very infected and was causing her blood poisoning), and twice weekly doctor appointments for this whole ten months with no healing and if fact it has gotten worse. About one week ago I read about the plantain weed and we gave it a try. I would pick the leaves in the early morning, rinse, dry, chop ubber finely, press this with the back of a spoon to release the juices and then apply immediately to my mothers leg ulcer. Well wouldn’t you know it…it’s healing!!! We have new skin granulation as well as size reduction and new un-infected skin growth from the edges. One ulcer has almost within one week gone from a size of a fifty cent piece down to the size of a tiny pencil eraser. All of these ulcers were open and draining(ick), they since have stopped draining almost entirely and are now healing from the inside out, which is what the doctors want to see. The doctors were so happy to see healing…and so were we. This is an amazing “weed”. I just read that it stops tooth aches. I have had a killer tooth ache for months now from a new crown. Dentist says that I have no edges and that my tooth’s nerves are inflamed and I must wait for this to calm down. Meanwhile life is unbearable without pain killers every day. Tonight, and all week, I’m trying the plantain weed cure. I will let you know how it works.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your experience, and I’m very thankful to hear that it’s helping your mom. Skin problems can be very, very stubborn. Hoping that it helps with your toothache, too.

  44. i use this leaf to wash my eyes , after a tarantula spider fell on my face,,,my grandmother put two leaves in a bowl,,,pour hot water over them ,,let it sit overnight ,next morning i wash my eyes with using the leaf,,,wash the good eye first with one leaf ,then the other,,,i did this for about 2wks or less ,it did what the medication didn’t do””heal my eyes.

  45. My story is about using this ‘weed’ on poison ivy affecting both eyes. (Btw, in my area this plant is called pig’s ear, haha) The poison ivy inflamed my skin all around my eyes & made me miserable. Went to ER & even the nurse was taken aback when she saw me, asking if it was a bee sting. Of course prednisone was prescribed, but after 1 1/2 days there was no relief but a rash developing on my abdomen. Naturally, i tossed them & went to plan B. I remembered hearing this weed could relieve the poison ivy rash/itching. We are rural so I went hunting for nice sized leaves that were whole, etc. Wouldn’t you know it, seemed a lot of them were growing along side poison ivy! So I was very careful to get only ones that were free & clear. Came home & rinsed each leaf, turned it over & ran a knife handle over the veins to get a juice flowing & slapped them on each eye. (My kids thought I had lost it!) I laid down with them & when they felt limp I took a new leaf & repeated. Within maybe 2 hrs I decided it was time to check what my eyes looked like. I had great green racoon eyes but the swelling was down quite a bit. I continued a little longer. Washed around my eyes well. Plantain has astringent qualities, so my skin around my eyes was rather dry but I felt terrific!

    1. That’s awesome! Thank you so much for sharing. My psoriasis has flared up, and while the salve was helping, it was only taking the edge off. With the stories others have shared lately, I decided to try using whole leaves packed on the skin overnight, and it seems to be making a difference. I have patches on both elbows and on my face, so I started with the elbows because it was easier to get the leaves to stay put. Now I want to figure out a way to either get more concentrated salve or get the leaves to stay on my face without too much discomfort.

  46. I’ve used a combination of chickweed and plantain (equal parts) infused in olive oil and made into a salve for many years. It is great to stop any itchy rash especially diaper rash, and I’ve recently discovered it not only stops the itch of my eczema, but also helps it heal.

  47. My mother called it Bubka leaves. I have no idea why. We are Polish. She had us pick it in our yard for a number of things. Boils, slivers, stings. Then we grew up and forgot all about it. Well, I will be looking for some now, but it’s not in my yard. It’s in the park by mom’s old house. Bubka?

  48. Very interesting article. I have 2 questions for you. First, is this used in any way to prevent or cure migraines? These are a major problem for me. Second, could you explain how this is used to quit smoking? I have tried numerous methods, including hypnotism, with no luck. I would love t give this a try.
    Thank you!

    1. On the smoking – not something I’ve personally had experience with, but the article “Best Herbs to Stop Smoking” says:

      Plantain has been shown in clinical trials to create an aversion to smoking when ingested or sprayed into the nasal passage.

      Plantain is also a gentle expectorant, helping to expel mucous from the lungs. Plantain is often used to treat conditions of the respiratory system. It is an anti-inflammatory and demulcent herb which soothes irritated mucous membranes, including tissues of the lungs.

      For the migraines, you may want to check out the post “Home Remedies for Headaches“, which in addition to remedies includes a list of lifestyle triggers that may contribute to migraine onset. I’m not familiar with the use of Plantago major as a migraine treatment.

  49. Hi all from Germany .I was amazed by this.I know this weed and my mom ripped off a leave and told me that the white end bits what hang out are the numbers off kids I ll get.I tried and of course with different results each time.I played this with my mates aswell.Mom also told me that when you have ulcers or sore skin to put those leafs on it. But you forget later in life and I have never used those leafs yet.

  50. My grandmother used to call it hog ear, sow ear. She would feed it to ducks, geese, rabbit, chickens. Now, I’m really learning the value of coming back to nature. Thanks. 🙂

    1. I could see the ear shape name connection. It makes me happy to see people putting these plants to use again. Our internet installer got stung last week working on the roof. I bandaged him up with fresh plantain and it took the swelling right down. He couldn’t even find the sting to show me a couple days later. (He forgot his drill and had to stop back in.)

  51. Where can I find information about using Plantain to help with emphysema, and similar problems? Can it be put in a tincture and used that way?

  52. Hi every one ,
    is plantaine good enough for Cataract in eyes?
    if not what could be the alternative of surgery?
    thanks very much for tking the time to read.
    🙂
    Herby

  53. love the information however you spell diarrhea ( frequent and fluid bowel movements), and hemorrhage ( a profuse discharge of blood), and hemorrhoid ( a painful varicose vein in the anal sphincter)

    1. Thank you for your attention to detail when reading the post. I’m well aware of the American form of the words that you noted, however, the passage where they are used is a quote from another herbal site. In other countries, the words are spelled differently. For instance, a hemorrhoids blogger notes that:

      “Different countries spell hemorrhoids/hemroids/haemorrhoids in different ways. For example, British English uses hAEmorrhoids as the correct grammatical name for this illness.

      American English uses Hemorrhoids or Hemroids to describe the same illness. Hemroids is actually a common mis-spelling of hemorrhoids – it has been used so frequently now however that it has almost forced itself to become the third version of spelling hemorrhoids.
      Piles is the old English way of naming hemorrhoids. It is still commonly used today.

      One last attempt to make this clearer:

      Residents of the USA should use: Hemorrhoids
      Residents of the Australia should use: Haemorrhoids
      Residents of the New Zealand should use: Haemorrhoids”

  54. Great post. I will start keeping my eye out for plantain in my walks. Wondering if you know if there is a best time of year, or best stage of the plant’s life, to pick it for most effectiveness?

  55. Wow, nice to see everyone sharing. I am First Nations from BC Canada. My family has been using this Plantain/leaf/frogs leaf/medicine leaf for generations. We use this as olive oil and as a salve. There are lots of natural medicines you can make from devils club, willow, comfrey, buds of the cotton wood tree and dandelions.

  56. I went for a walk yesterday in a nearby forest preserve and I spotted a lot of wild plantain. The leaves were big and looked very healthy. I’m going to go back there today and gather some for my own plantain infused oil. Thanks for this recipe!

  57. As a beekeeper, thank you for knowing the difference between a wasp and a bee. It’s one of my pet peeves when a person automatically assumes they were stung “by a bee” instead of a wasp, hornet, or yellow jacket.

    1. I know and appreciate my winged companions, and have generally found bees to be much more docile than wasps and hornets. Overall, I rarely get bit or stung without provoking any of them.

  58. My 6 year old got stung by a wasp inside my parent’s house. I put a baking soda paste on it immediately, then went outside to find a leaf. I bruised it with the handle of a knife, sqeezed the juice onto her sting with the baking soda. A few minutes later, replaced the baking soda/plantain juice with the mashed leaves. An hour later, no pain or swelling, only a tiny pink dot where she was stung.

  59. My husband forgot to get my anti seizure medication one time before a 10 day vacation . I picked up old book on herbs and it said to use 1/8 tsp in a tea once a day to prevent seizures. I can not go without my medicine for more than 3 days without a seizure. I don’t have one the whole 10 days. Now if I get just convince my doctor.

  60. Thank you for posting so many helpful things on your site. I am a beekeeper, and started growing plantain. I always have a difficult time with stings. Silly me I got stung a few times and decided to try plantain on two of the stings, ignoring a third, small one. The two I treated went away quickly, while the third bothered me for days. What a huge difference it was.

  61. Love your post Laurie! I am from Sarnia, Ontario Canada and need to find more of this type of info in my area. ????

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post, Wilma. I’ll be working my way through updating all the old Weekly Weeder posts, so I expect you’ll find more wild plants that look familiar in those posts, too.

  62. Laurie,

    After making the plantain oil, how long of a shelf life does it have? Does it lose it’s potency over time?
    Thanks,

    Rob

    1. I keep a batch from one season to the next. It does become less potent over time, although I don’t have a way to measure how much and how quickly. I would replace it each year, more rapidly if stored at a warmer temperature.

  63. Yup, me, too! I was working outside yesterday and got some raspberry juice on my hands. Rather than go inside to wash, I rubbed it off on some damp grass. Unfortunately I rudely did not check to see if that patch was already occupied or not, and a few seconds later felt a hot little sting starting in my finger. Plantain is all over my property. I grabbed a leaf, chewed and held it over the spot for instant and complete relief. This reminded me that I better clip up my batch of plantain leaf and get it in some olive oil. While laying and rolling up my washed and dried leaves, I noticed a couple had some tiny, white fuzzy spots. I’m careful about ingesting molds, and must have clipped from a patch that had started to get a little powdery mildew. This often appears in my garden, some years earlier than other.s. Until new the weather has been changeable, but it has been clear and breezy often enough that the mildew season had held off until the temperatures began to drop at night and fog set in. Tough and potent as they are, plantain seems especially vulnerable to mildew, perhaps because it grows low to the ground. There is still plenty around. In fact, seedlings are still appearing. These are the ones I like best in salad, since they have yet to become fibrous.

    1. I’ve noticed that susceptibility to mildew, too- and also need to make up a fresh batch before the season is done. I’ve been using fresh leaves, so it’s easy to forget to make a stash for later.

  64. I didn’t read all the posts, so if someone has already suggested this, I apologize for the redundancy. On making a salve: Have you tried mixing some of the infused oil with some beeswax? I made an olive oil and beeswax salve years ago — still have some of it — it’s not plantain, but it’s the only thing that works on certain skin issues. I made mine with essential oils, but I don’t see why you couldn’t use plantain-infused oil.

    I don’t know in what form you get your beeswax — it comes in pellets and sticks. A stick is about 1/3 cup when melted. I would use 1/3 cup of beeswax with 1/2 cup of the infused oil, and see if you like the consistency. You can always ADD infused oil, if it’s too stiff, but you can’t take it out if it’s too thin.

    Hope this helps.

  65. I really like your site. I went to a talk where a natural healer mentioned you can stop a brown recluse spider bite from festering and spreading if you take activated charcoal and mix it with the pulverized plantain leaves. She said it healed the bite without even a scar. I wonder if you can use those two ingredients with olive oil to make a salve. I was bitten by a large spider while i slept. I wish I had some sort of poultice and used it. There were three large deep wounds in my leg. They took forever to heal. Years later, I still can see the scares. I didn’t think about that talk until I found your site. This site is a keeper.

  66. I appreciate the information in this post. Now knowing how effective Plantain can be in so many cases, I will be making Plantain oil soon and then learn how to make a salve. Some years ago I had a most impressive experience with Plantain.

    I had been working in the yard clearing poison ivy for several days. Getting into my vehicle one day, a spider bit my arm. Thinking no further of it, I went about my business. Later in the evening, I felt an itch developing which did not react to the poison ivy lotion I had. The itch on my arm grew in intensity and spread until it took up most of the lower section of my arm. It took a while before I realized this was not poison ivy. It was the result of the spider bite.

    I had a Polish natural health-oriented friend whose mother operated a health center in Poland. My friend went out to her yard, picked Plantain leaves and mashed them with the back of a spoon. She applied Calendula Ointment to the mashed leaves and held all in place with a large gauze and bandages. I was instructed to do the same several times per day. The situation on my arm of yellow and green infected tissue began to clear and healed within the week.

    The health complications I soon encountered from that spider bite took years of attention. If I had saved the spider we could have made a homeopathic remedy from the spider toxins, but I had not thought of it. I’m sure a Plantain salve would be much the same in effectiveness as the Calendula ointment. I think of this often as I see Plantain growing all around where I live.

  67. My Mother always called this back door leaf. I had a sister that got boils and my Mother would put the leaf on it. We used it for bug bites and bee stings too. Have you ever heard it called this?

    1. No, that’s one name I haven’t heard, but it makes sense given that plantain thrives in compacted soil – like soil near a doorway. It’s also been called “white man’s foot”, because Europeans brought it with as they traveled throughout the Americas.

  68. I have very small leaf plantain in my yard but wanted the large leaf one. I found some a two hours drive and brought it home. It took several tries as a pet rabbit would eat it to a nub. Now I have a bed of it growing.

    We have fire ants here in the south. Their bites hurt and leave pus-filled bumps that are painful! A quick chew of a leaf and applied to the spot guarantees no reaction. It’s amazing.

    My grands have a bad reaction to mosquito bites leaving large welts. A little plantain infused oil calms the spots in 45 minutes or less.

    Needless to say, I baby my plantain bed!

  69. Plantain is also a strong anti-cancer herb, especially for hard to treat glandular cancers (ovarian, pancreatic). It is well suited for cancers where hormones are a concern. This is controversial and some say yes or no on both sides, but some herbs are considered estrogenic and are avoided by some for that reason. Plantain is a good replacement in those formulas instead of red clover, for example, which is estrogenic. Plantain can be added to other formulas such as Essiac to customize it for particular cancers. Follow your instincts, muscle test, or use the pendulum to decide if this is the herb to add for your cancer.

  70. Thank you for the great post! I make the salve and like you said it is great for burns, cuts, bee stings etc. My 93 year old mother has the shingles I put some salve on her today, seemed to help with the pain. I left the plantain salve with the nursing home and they are going to apply it. If it does relieve the pain we need to get the word out! My mother is getting percocet at the moment to manage the pain…..NOT GOOD! I will let you know if it helps.

  71. I was living in Hawaii, on the Big Island and while out snorkeling I touched a sea urchin and got a spine in my finger. I got the spine out but the infection didn’t respond to triple antibiotic cream or betadine. A nurse friend recommended plantain, and the bad infection, which almost sent me to the hospital, cleared up overnight! I love this plant! Thanks for the sweet article!

  72. My family live in a remote area in NZ, no road access and two hours by boat. They used to have tethered goats and one day one got very tangled and managed to rip a horn off, taking the root out, leaving a bloody cavity in its head.
    With limited resources and a trip to the vet not being an option Mum decided to use a poultice of honey and macerated plantain leaves (the long leaved variety grown for fodder in NZ) to pack the wound and left nature to take its course. They were pleasantly surprised that the wound completely healed, the poultice shriveled and fell out. The horn never grew back but there was no infection or or other negative side effects.

  73. I am convinced that this is the best go to for any skin issue I come across. I made a salve last year and so far it has advanced my healing of mosquito bites, poison ivy, broken skin around my nails, any small cut or wound and a stye on my eye lid.

    I just cut about 2 gallons of leaves and juiced them with my juicer. This yielded about one cup of juice that I plan to mix with a cup of honey to begin using as a tonic three times a day for my cough, lungs and hopefully bad gut.
    Has anyone had luck with the tonic use? Does the leaf pulp have any medicinal use after juicing…maybe dry it for tea?

    1. I know that plantain has been used internally with good results, but we don’t have enough plants to try juicing it.

      While the dried leaf pulp wouldn’t be as potent as fresh leaves, I don’t see any harm in drying it and using it for tea.

  74. In 1974 in kentucky , I had a c-section after 36 hrs of hard labor to deliver twins. I was in the hospital for a week and came home with a very nasty staff (sp) infection. I went to stay with a married couple who were farriers. Don was the shoeing Saddlebreds that showed in Madison Square Garden, and Ardith shod horses around the area. Ardy, as we called her, opened up my incision between each stitch with a Q-tip and cleaned it out twice a day. To no avail. Antibiotics were not even working. She came home one day and told me she had been called in to look at a colt’s leg wound that they could not get rid of the infection in. She poulticed it with plantain and cleared it up. Did I want to try it? Well I was more than tired of loosing half a Q-tip in my gut! She broke up the leaves, put them in hot water and then into a large piece of gause and onto my incision, with a hot water water bottle on top. OMG! It pulled the infection out so dramatically that it actually hurt. We did this twice a day for something like a week. What the doctors had not been able to do, the plantain did . Now in Georgia, this last spring I saw a plant, and moved it into my herb garden . I did not know it was good for so many things, though. Thank you for such an enriching article!

  75. Exactly how is this used for Epilepsy?? I am Epileptic & always looking for an herb to help.. Not that I rather have that than my medicines.. But kinda like a back-up.. To take with my medicines..
    Thank you

    1. If you visit the study linked in the post, they don’t give specifics dosing instructions, they only mention that it has been used, and link to more sources.

      The section on epilepsy notes:

      This plant has been used to cure epilepsy lonely, either exclusively, or with other herbs such as cooked lentils with plantain leaves, which in traditional Persian medicine, is called “Adasiyyat”. It also helps to improve nervous pains such as earache by using drops or massage of mucilage, or nasal inhalation.

      And in the table:

      Neurologic Leaves Foodstuff with lentil, Plaster on Forehead Epilepsy Effects GABA system and reduces seizure

      So the leaves are eaten with lentils and applied as a plaster/poultice on the forehead, but I don’t know how much, or for how long, or how frequently.

    1. To dry plantain, you simply rinse (if needed) pat dry and either spread to dry or use the dehydrator of your choice. Keep the temperature low (95F/35C) to gently dry the plant.

      I don’t have a post on self heal on the site yet, but will make a note of your request.

  76. I always knew to use plantain for stinging nettles but did not know it’s other uses. I am asthmatic and very allergic to the midges (biting micro flies) here in Scotland. I am going to infuse the plantain and make some salve for the bites and making tea for the asthma. On the allotment I manage for a local charity is full of both types of plantain.

  77. Hi, Laurie – I just found this website. I’ve been studying plant medicine and edibles for a year, and did a search and found your page. I have a question. I know it’s been a long time since the last post, hope you are doing great.
    QUESTION:

    Years ago, decades ago, my friends and I decided we weren’t going to go to the beach in Florida, but for hs graduation, we’d go to central Ontario and go camping in the wilderness. A week in of a 2 week adventure, I was swimming in the lake, before supper, and got bit by a lot of black flies afterwards. I broke out in a terrible body rash that burned and itched terribly. My friends were going to take me to the nearest emergency care station, but at the ranger station/store back down the 6 mi jeep trail, the ranger’s wife said she had a bad rash like that once, and the old indian out back in a little cabin, knew a plant that would fix me right up, it did for her. So, the old indian told me about a plant that had no side veins, so went went all the way back to camp, I picked a bunch of plants about a foot high, and as told, crushed them and rubbed the juice on my skin. In seconds, the burning and itch stopped, and by the next morning, most of the rash was gone. I’m retired now, and never knew the plant I used. I found some in N. Michigan – could that have been plantain??? “Lady’s Thumb” does the same, but it doesn’t look like what I used.

    1. It could very well have been one of the plantain varieties. It’s amazing for bites. There’s broadleaf and narrow leaf in northern Michigan. I’ve seen good stands of it while up there visiting my husband’s side of the family. (Strangely, they didn’t understand my fascination with weeds…)

      I’ve used it on single black fly bites (thankfully we don’t have them at our place, but I got bit by a friend’s place), mosquito bites, wasp sting, bee stings, yellowjacket stings. Plantain is amazing.

  78. Someone asked if plantain could be eaten, my answer is yes. When I was a child my mother would pick wild greens every spring and plantain was one of the plants she would always use.

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