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Thursday, April 30, 2015

MEADOW MUFFIN MOMENTS, WEEK 16, April 16 - April 22

Meditations For Women Who Do Too Much

April 16
"Dependency invites encroachment."
Patricia Meyer Spacks

This day's meditation starts with a statement that makes one stop and think..really?
"We women who do too much are terrified of being dependent." She says our fear of dependency often results in behavior that looks like independence. We have trouble asking for help because we don't trust anyone. If that is true than I know several women who appear so very strong in handling things, it is a shocker to think they could have issues of their own. Supposedly, we need to define ourselves in terms other than dependency, to not let others form our identities for us, and then we'll be free to bring our true selves to our relationships with people.

April 17
"The new space...has a kind of invisibility to those who have not entered it."
Mary Daly

In our desire to keep everything under control, we find it very difficult to leap into the unknown. To change our ways requires faith in a journey in which we cannot be sure of the way. That can be terrifying to someone who knows there has to be a better way but lets fear hold them back. All it takes is that first step.

April 18
"And to all those voices of wisdom that have whispered to me along the way."
Dhyani Ywahoo

There have been voices of wisdom all around us all our lives. Some of that wisdom has been learned from others and some has been self-taught, but all of it usually came at the time we needed it most. There are so many people who love to share their experiences and knowledge. Appreciation and gratitude are wonderful.

April 19
"Sometimes I wish I had suction cups to hold me down."

Why is it so hard for some of us to just stay in a seat! The wheels are always turning and sometimes we may feel powerless to control that urge to do something and do it right now. We can be powerful women at the same time as we can be powerless over our crazy lives. What a relief to know that if we just turn everything over to a power greater than ourselves, the pressure is greatly reduced to a level of sanity.

April 20
"You need to claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all you have been and done, which may take some time, you are fierce with reality."
Flonda Scott Maxwell

We all need a reality check once in a while. We need to stop and take a thorough inventory of who we are and what we have done, both the good and the bad. This is much more than just focusing on things we could have done differently. This is about realizing the many positive qualities that make us who we are. Acknowledge the whole package deal and like it. Only then can we be on the path to becoming who we are.

April 21
"Until the missing story of ourselves is told, nothing besides told can suffice us: we shall go on quietly craving it."
Laura Riding

We cannot possibly offer what we have until we know just who we are. The most important journey we will ever take is the journey inward. Each of us is a unique combination of heredity and experiences, and no one else can offer what our individuality can offer. We just have to slow down and take the time to find out what there is about us that is so special. It would be a real shame to waste that potential offering in this life.

April 22
"When self-respect takes its rightful place in the psyche of woman, she will not allow herself to be manipulated by anyone."
Indira Mahindra

There are many aspects of ourselves that merit self-respect. Our competency, our flexibility, our ability to multitask, to articulate our ideas, our organizational skills, the list goes on. People around us need to accept our contributions as strengths and give us the respect we deserve. And we need to demand that self-respect from ourselves by not being manipulated.

To read the previous posts:

To read the previous weeks' posts:
Week 1 January 1 - January 7
Week 2 January 8 - January 14
Week 3 January 15 - January 21
Week 4 January 22 - January 28

Week 5 January 29 - February 4
Week 6 February 5 - February 11
Week 7 February 12 - February 18
Week 8 February 19 - February 25

Week 9 February 26 - March 4
Week 10 March 5 - March 11
Week 11 March 12 - March 18 
Week 12 March 19 - March 25

Week 13 March 26 - April 1 
Week 14 April 2 - April 8 
Week 15 April 9 - April 15

Monday, April 20, 2015

Violets, Johnny-jump-up, Pansy, our Heart's Ease

Violets in full bloom by late April (zone 6)

 The appearance of springtime wildflowers can be like getting reacquainted with old friends. Feeling a connection with the land as the transformation of winter into spring unfolds before us has to be one of the most therapeutic remedies for a winter weary soul.

The unusual markings on pansy blossoms have given rise to many names describing these "faces";  monkey face, peeping Tom, tickle-my-fancy, three faces in a hood, love-in-idleness, kiss-her-in-the-pantry, heartsease and also herb trinity represented by the three petals.

The history behind the origins of flower names can be an interesting lesson in history, literature and even mythology. Our modern day pansy is a descendant of the tricolored violet, or Johnny-jump-up. The word pansy comes from the French penser, which means "to think".  The French believed that pansies could make your lover think of you.

 Thompson,the English gardener to Lord Gambier, the Admiral of the Baltic fleet. was the one who crossed varieties of violets and developed the first blotched pansy in 1810. Huge quantities of violets were grown for perfume on the French Riviera. By 1893, two German scientists, Tiemann and Kruger discovered the chemical formula of the violet scent and called it Ionone.

Originally, pansies came in three colors-purple, white and yellow. Legend says that they were all white until they were pierced by cupid's arrow and only then had they gained the colors purple and yellow. With the colors came the magic power to be used in love potions. Shakespeare had said "...before milk-white, now purple with love's wound".
It was in Midsummer Night's Dream that Oberon squeezed the juice of the violet on Titania's eyes so that she would fall in love with the ass-headed Bottom.

In mythology, Io was the young damsel whom Zeus loved but changed into a heifer to protect her from his jealous wife, Hera. Zeus gave Io a field of violets to eat. Her perfection raised the suspicions of Hera, who then tormented Io to the point she jumped into the Ionian Sea, which took her name as well. Zeus promised Hera he would no longer look at Io and turned her back into a girl. From that point on, violets were linked with love.

Elizabethans associated them with innocent, unspoiled love and so called them "heart's-ease". They're also called "love in idleness". Violet flowers aren't real flowers in the sense that real flowers go to seed. These flowers are just for fun and the real ones that do make seed come in autumn. They aren't the familiar purple, white or yellow, but rather are green and hidden in the mass of the foliage.

Violets can be recognized by their shiny green heart-shaped leaves with edges that roll in. The flowers have five petals and resemble little orchids. Good patches can be found where the ground remains damp and cool but with lots of sunlight. A tell-tale factor is the slimy, stickiness of the leaves. Violet leaf (Viola odorata) is what they call demulcent. This means they contain significant amounts of mucilage. This mucilage is what makes the violets medicinal and healing. It soothes and cools the skin while reducing inflammation and redness.

The parts used are the leaves and flowers. The fresh leaves themselves or an infusion in tea form has a bland but slightly sweet taste. Though labor intensive, picking the flowers can be a treat and since these flowers aren't the ones that produce seed there needn't be the worry of over-harvesting. Sit there and eat as you pick or perhaps save them for making candied violets.Violets are high in ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and vitamin A.

Fresh leaves have a high salicylic acid content, which make them valuable for treating some cancers. According to herbalist Susan Weed, the violet can be a powerful ally for reproductive problems such as an aid in dissolving cysts and tumors. The infused oil makes a soothing massage oil for breast inflammation.

Violets can be utilized as a tea, made into a syrup, a tincture, an herbal vinegar and put up in olive oil to be made into a salve. Being antiseptic, violet salve brings soothing relief for blisters, diaper rash, wound care, chapped dry skin, etc.

Viola is considered a very old-fashioned name and now we know why.
Plantain Violet Lip Balm

Herbal Infused Oil, Shea Butter Balm
Violet/Plantain Herbal Salve

  The following recipe for Candied Violets comes from Taste of Home magazine Feb/March 1993 issue


2 egg whites
1 large bunch wild violets (including stems), washed


  1. In a bowl, beat egg whites with a wire whisk just until frothy. Place sugar in another bowl. Taking one violet at a time, pick it up by the stem and dip into egg whites, covering all surfaces. Gently dip into the sugar, again being sure all of the petals, top and bottom, are covered. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets; snip off stems. Using a toothpick, open petals to original shape. Sprinkle sugar on any uncoated areas. Dry in a 200° oven for 30-40 minutes or until sugar crystallizes. Gently remove violets to wire racks with a spatula or two-tined fork. Sprinkle again with sugar if violets appear syrupy. Cool. Store in airtight containers with waxed paper between layers. Yield: 12 servings.
  Be sure to use the common wild purple violet, not the African violet (often grown as a houseplant).

A fun game to play with children is from an English garden writer, Peter Coats.
There were five girls who went to see their grandmother (Pick off petals one by one) who was sick in bed (reveal little pouch, which looks like granny in bed with the sheets pulled up). 
"Grandma, you look so much better" said the girls. 
"Thank you," said the grandmother, "but just look how thin my legs are" 
(remove the spur and pull out two skinny stamens).

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Meditations For Women Who Do Too Much

April 9
"The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God."
Mary Baker Eddy

They say that part of the solution to one's problems is recognizing that there is a problem. The climb up the ladder of success can lead to the discovery that one cannot appear innocent, but rather must appear cynical and sophisticated. As the craziness escalates, part of the insanity of it all comes from our lack of being able to recognize that life has indeed become insane. A return to sanity comes once we let ourselves believe that all things are not controllable.

April 10
"Ah, duty is an icy shadow"
Augusta Evans

Duty becomes the excuse for many of our life's choices. We neglect those we love and justify the behavior as our duty to our family. Granted, this cannot be avoided when we do what we have to do to make a living. The problem comes when our work is an unhealthy addiction and suffering is the result of feeding that addiction.

April 11
"A mark of a true workaholic is cleaning house in your underwear."

While this day's advise is very true, I have to wonder how life can realistically be any different. Many of us with so much to do cannot walk from point A to point B without getting distracted by seeing something that needs to be done and getting sidetracted even if just for a moment. I suppose the problem lies in the fact that the constant distractions leave us without a sense of completion. I've often felt that some things are done half-a***d rather than done right, but at least good enough.

April 12
"I hate weekends. There's no structure. There's no compass. How will I know what to do if I don't have to do it?"

This one hit home, wow. Yes, weekends can result in anxiety when there is so much I could be doing that won't get done because I'm supposed to be doing something fun.  Open ended days of "relaxation", without structure can be difficult. A real shame when our busyness gets in the way of quality time with our family.

April 13
"They sicken of the calm that know the storm."
Dorothy Parker

How many people tell themselves they function best under pressure. The adrenaline rush that comes with fresh projects and new lists to check off is fine, unless we find ourselves easily bored without the stress. Continuously getting ourselves in a whirlwind of commitments is an addiction when our health and relationships begin to feel the strain.

April 14
"Long term change requires looking honestly at our lives and realizing that it's nice to be needed, but not at the expense of our health, our happiness, and our sanity."
Ellen Sue Stern

Being a "yes" person is very rewarding but there has to be a limit. We have to know when to say "no" and not feel guilty over disappointing someone. Careaholism is an addiction too. Volunteering is wonderful but realize that if there seems to be a deep down resentment forming for being asked once again, it is time to take a step back.

April 15
"With him for a sire and her for a dam, What should I be but just what I am?"
Edna St. Vincent Millay

Accepting ourselves just the way we are with both strengths and weaknesses, without ego getting in the way, is a step in the right direction. Being able to admit that we just aren't that good at something without feeling less of ourselves, as well as acknowledging our strong points without inflated fuss is the path to being emotionally healthy people.

To read the previous posts:

To read the previous weeks' posts:
Week 1 January 1 - January 7
Week 2 January 8 - January 14
Week 3 January 15 - January 21
Week 4 January 22 - January 28

Week 5 January 29 - February 4
Week 6 February 5 - February 11
Week 7 February 12 - February 18
Week 8 February 19 - February 25

Week 9 February 26 - March 4
Week 10 March 5 - March 11
Week 11 March 12 - March 18 
Week 12 March 19 - March 25

Week 13 March 26 - April 1 
Week 14 April 2 - April 8

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sprouts, A Living Food

Mung Beans
 "What a rich book might be made about buds and, perhaps, sprouts!"
Author: Henry David Thoreau

Food in its natural form can be a fascinating thing. They often say the shape of some foods resembles the very bodily system it is known to be good for. Sprouts are life, they are living food. They are high in vitality to give you the energy you need. 

Many of us have concerns about the possible lack of freshness and nutritional quality of grocery store produce. Especially in the off-season, we aren't sure how far the food has traveled and what has been done to it to give it a fresh appearance. A wonderful plus for sprouting your own seed is that you can have fresh greens all year round, as well as not having to worry about molds and toxins.

Beans need a warm, humid environment to sprout. Unfortunately, bacteria also thrive under the same conditions, so sprouts carry a higher risk of bacterial contamination from salmonella and E. coli. Fresh sprouts are only good for a few days, therefore store bought sprouts should be cooked before eating to lessen the risk of consuming a raw food with contamination. Grow your own and you'll have much more confidence eating them raw in salads and sandwiches. 

Any type of bean or legume can be sprouted, but mung bean sprouts are the most common type used in cooking. Bean sprouts give you an easy way to boost the nutrients in your diet. Sprouting increases the ability for the body to absorb less digestible nutrients that are bound by phytic acid. Vegetarians should know that though bean sprouts are a good source of plant protein, it is an incomplete source of all the amino acids needed by the body. Therefore, a wide variety of vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and grains should be part of the diet.

High in vitamins and minerals, sprouts are an especially good source for the B vitamins, vitamin C, copper, magnesium, manganese, zinc and iron. If you cook and eat the whole bean, you'll only get a trace of vitamin C. When the beans are sprouted, they become good sources because the amount of vitamin C increases as the seed germinates. Pregnant women take note: Folate helps your body produce DNA, amino acids and red blood cells, making it essential for the prevention of anemia and birth defects. Sprouts, especially soybean sprouts, are an excellent source of this B vitamin.

Purchase only high quality untreated organic seeds, grains or legumes which have already been tested for germination. Health food stores and co-ops are places to find seed. Sprouters can be found at such stores but they are also easily found online. 
 The one pictured below is The Easy Sprout Sprouter.

You can use an ordinary mason jar as your sprouter if you desire. You'll need to buy screened lids or punch holes in the typical canning lid for draining. You may need cheesecloth as well for tinier seeds. The drawback is that you'll have to be careful the seeds don't lay in too much moisture collected at the bottom of the jar.

The first step is to rinse your seed. You'll only need about 1 - 2 tablespoons of seed at a time. You'll be surprised at the volume of sprouts you'll end up with and being they don't last that long it is best to just start fresh every few days if you want a continuous supply.

Next is the soak. Add about three times as much water to cover your seeds. Seed the size of mung beans need to soak eight hours or overnight. Smaller seeds require only about four hours of soaking, while some require none.
Don't soak chia, alfalfa, cress, oat or mustard seeds. Gelatinous seeds such as flax, guar and chia won't do well if using a glass jar as the sprouter.

After the soak, drain the seeds. You will need to rinse and drain the seeds twice a day so they do not dry out. If they dry out, the process is ruined. Take care to turn the jar over carefully so as not to shift the seeds and break the tender shoots.
Don't throw out the soak water. This water is nutritious and can be added to your soup or water your plants. 

Keep the sprouter out of the sun until ready to "green." Sprouts do better in the dark while germinating. Once the sprouts do reach their full height, place them on a window sill in direct sunlight to develop the chlorophyll. This will happen in a day, from which you can then place the container in the refrigerator.

The Easy Sprout Sprouter.
The Easy Sprout Sprouter is wonderful. The unit consists of the main container, an insert container with drain holes and positioned so as to keep it elevated and free of any gathered water on the bottom, a topper with drain holes and a lid for storage when ready to store in the fridge. There is even a tiny drainer for the smaller seeds to keep them from going through the holes.

Sprouts can be added fresh to salads (if you sprout your own) or easily sauteed as a vegetable or added to casseroles and stir-fry.
To saute:
Place a small amount of oil in a pan
Add sprouts and a small amount of water or tamari sauce.
Cover and cook 10 minutes at the most.
Minced onion, mushroom, shredded carrots, celery or cabbage all make good additions. 

Sunflower seed needs about 2 days, rinse twice a day, and the length of the sprout will be 1/2 inch
Mung Beans need 4 days, rinse twice a day, and the length of the sprout will be 2 - 3 inches
Green Peas need  4 days, rinse twice a day, and the length of the sprout will be 1/2 - 1 inch
Lentils need 4 days, rinse twice a day, and the length of the sprout will be 1 inch
Adzuki Beans need 6 days, rinse twice a day, and the length of the sprout will be 1 inch
Soybeans need 5 days, rinse twice a day, and the length of the sprout will be 1/2 - 3/4 inch
Alfalfa needs 4 days (don't pre-soak), rinse twice a day, and the length of the sprout will be 1 - 2 inch

Note to those with Lupus:
Alfalfa sprouts are an herb with a variety of medicinal purposes; but when converted to a tablet, which is manufactured with all parts of the plant except for the leaves, it has been associated with causing symptoms similar to those of lupus. Lupus Now Magazine reports this reaction comes from amino acids in alfalfa seeds and sprouts. Avoiding alfalfa products is beneficial for anyone with lupus or a family history of the disease. The LFA says to beware of food products that can contain alfalfa, such as vitamins and herbal teas.

Mung Beans

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Meditations For Women Who Do Too Much

April 2

"Don't be afraid your life will end; be afraid that it will never begin."
Grace Hansen

For many of us, our everyday lives are a slow death. The constant rushing around, the pressure to accomplish, the continuous exhaustion...
Many of us have a fear of dying, yet do we use that inevitable part of life as an escape from the real fear which is fully living our lives? We become so comfortable with our busyness that we tend to avoid focusing on being really present in the now.

April 3

"Any addiction is a falling into unconsciousness."
Marion Woodman

Einstein said, "Insanity is the tendency to do the same thing again and again and expecting a different outcome." Addictions involving alcohol and drugs affect our thinking and judgement, we know that. We need to acknowledge that the tendency to overwork may also be an addiction clouding our thinking. Before we can feel better we have to realize how destructive our habits can be in that we become numb and go through our days in a state of wakeful unconsciousness.

April 4
"Integrity is so perishable in the summer months of success."
Venessa Redgrave

It is important to periodically stop and reflect on the decisions we have made. How many occasions have there been where we look the other way or take the easy road just to avoid conflict. How many times do we sacrifice our integrity on issues that deep down are very important to us. To block out these slips of our integrity will slowly eat away at you.

April 5
"The motions and patterns and connections of things became apparent on a gut level."
Robyn Davidson

The moments when we feel a oneness and connection with all things can be a magical thing. But in trying to explain it to others, we tend to lose the experience. This is one reason why time alone with just yourself for company is so important in order to learn to trust your gut and just "be".

April 6
"The clouds gathered together, stood still and watched the river scuttle around the forest floor, crash headlong into haunches of hills with no notion of where it was going, until exhausted, ill and grieving, it slowed to a stop just twenty leagues short of the sea."
Toni Morrison

What a beautiful analogy to how many of us battle ourselves trying to reach our goals. We tend to beat ourselves up over every rock in our river's path that creates some waves in our journey. We need to realize that no one can avoid failure and that though there is no straight path we can still go forward.

April 7
"Life ought to be a struggle of desire toward adventures whose nobility will fertilize the soul."
Rebecca West

When we spend all of our waking time focused on work-related issues, we tend to lose awareness of things going on outside of that sphere. Needless to say we can become narrow-minded and boring to others and even to ourselves. Rediscover your rainbow, that prism of light, and don't let yourself become a narrow, uninteresting beam.

April 8
"She became for me an island of light, fun, wisdom where I could run with my discoveries and torments and hopes at any time of day and find welcome."
May Sarton

Looking back over our lives it is amazing how many people have been a part of our path and development. People tend to come and go in our lives as we change jobs, locations, start families, and just outgrow relationships. But we all have certain people who have a place in our memories and hearts. It can be very heartwarming to treasure those acquaintances and friends who hold such a special place for us.

To read the previous posts:

To read the previous weeks' posts:
Week 1 January 1 - January 7
Week 2 January 8 - January 14
Week 3 January 15 - January 21
Week 4 January 22 - January 28

Week 5 January 29 - February 4
Week 6 February 5 - February 11
Week 7 February 12 - February 18
Week 8 February 19 - February 25

Week 9 February 26 - March 4
Week 10 March 5 - March 11
Week 11 March 12 - March 18 
Week 12 March 19 - March 25

Week 13 March 26 - April 1

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Meditations For Women Who Do Too Much

March 26

"Courage - fear that has said its prayers."
Dorothy Bernard

I've heard the saying that fear is lack of faith. If that is true than I suppose it is correct that courage comes from being in touch with our spirituality. We take chances, stumble from mistakes and put ourselves in a position to speak up rather than silently grumble and simmer. How do we do any of those while feeling like a quivering bowl of jello? We face our fears by knowing our connection to the power that is in us and beyond us. We learn courage.

March 27

"Only the dusty flowers, the clank of censers and tracks, leading from somewhere to nowhere."
Anna Akhmatova

A line from a song goes, "Don't go straight, Go forward." There is no assurance that getting your life back on track will go easy or in a straight line. Even when we do all the right things and follow all the rules, there will be times when we feel discouraged and have the "what's it all for anyway" attitude. Even if our windy path doesn't seem to be going anywhere, realize that as long as you stay on the road you'll be going somewhere.

March 28

"If God is a fly on the wall, Nanny, hand me a fly swatter."
Gaby Brimmer

Most of us feel God has abandoned us at one time or another and feel angry. But once the crisis is past and we look back, we realize that the problem wasn't that God was absent and believing was a farce anyway. The problem was that though we appear to be turning it all over to God, we still hope or even expect things to go our way. Our way is not always what is in the overall plan.

March 29

"It is the soul's duty to be loyal to its own desires. It must abandon itself to its master passion."
Rebecca West

There is a difference between true passion for your work and being a workaholic. Passion feeds you but compulsive working can devour you. Our competitive world confuses the two. True passion and doing what is important for us to do does not require us to destroy ourselves in the process.

March 30

"A clay pot sitting in the sun will always be a clay pot. It has to go through the white heat of the furnace to become porcelain."
Mildred Witte Stouven

Not all of us have what it takes or even want to go through what it takes to become porcelain.  There is nothing wrong with being a clay pot, but we all have furnaces in our lives and the possibilities of becoming porcelain. It is our faith that facilitates our surrender to the firing. Very sad is to go through the furnace yet learn nothing of what it takes to become porcelain. We all have furnaces in our lives but not all of us glean the lessons from the firing.

March 31

"Flowers grow out of dark moments."
Corita Kent

Pain is inevitable in life, but we can learn that a lot of our suffering stems from an unwillingness to let go of old beliefs, hold onto past issues, or the illusion of control. Some of us get the picture with a little of life's nudging, others need "a whack along the side of the head". Disease is dis-ease and with that comes suffering. That pain can teach us about the choices we have made. Such dark moments of despair often result in the blooming of flowers when we "get it".

April 1

"April comes like an idiot, babbling, and strewing flowers."
Edna St. Vincent Millay

One of the gifts of life is the changing of the weather and the seasons. When we fight and gripe about the weather, we waste a lot of energy. There is nothing like nature to relinquish some of our illusions of control. The seasons can teach us to take the good with the bad and even tough days are a gift if we learn to participate in what they have to offer. Spring brings erratic giddiness and energy, Summer brings time for laziness, Autumn creates a sense of preparation and gathering, and Winter makes us yearn for cozy togetherness. Take from each season the gifts it offers and enjoy being in the moment at hand. There is meaning to the quip, "Your presence in the present is a present in itself".

To read the previous posts:

To read the previous weeks' posts:
Week 1 January 1 - January 7
Week 2 January 8 - January 14
Week 3 January 15 - January 21
Week 4 January 22 - January 28

Week 5 January 29 - February 4
Week 6 February 5 - February 11
Week 7 February 12 - February 18
Week 8 February 19 - February 25

Week 9 February 26 - March 4
Week 10 March 5 - March 11
Week 11 March 12 - March 18 
Week 12 March 19 - March 25

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Plantain, The Mother of Herbs

Romeo: Your plantain-leaf is excellent for that.
Benvolio: For what, I pray thee/
Romeo: For your broken (cut) shin

Plantain has a long history, even mentioned by Chaucer and Shakespeare.

Everyone has an opinion on what makes a plant worth its existence or nothing more than a weed. This is what can separate a gardener from an herbalist. Granted, plantain certainly isn't the most attractive plant and doesn't have scented, showy flowers.  To many it is nothing more than a space hog in the lawn with its basal rosette form, later to shoot forth the long flower head tassels that inevitably just bend from the mower blades and pop right back up again. My mother still refers to it as the tassel weed, never bothering to remember the correct name. But to someone interested in medicinal or culinary plants, the return of the perennial plantain in early spring is met with a warm greeting.

Plantain is one of the most medicinally powerful plants, nuisance or not. They grow in lawns, meadows, waste places and even cement walk nooks and crannies. Part of their thriving success comes from the fibrous root system that can dind the smallest traces of moisture and nutrients in the poorest of soils. They are so common most people just step on them without a second thought.


Common Plantain

Though there are over two hundred species of plantain throughout the world, the two most common types in the U.S. are P. major L. or common plantain (broad-leaved) and Plantago lanceolata L or ribwort (narrow-leaved). The generic name comes from the word planta, which is Latin for "sole." The introduction of plantain to North America goes back to the 1700's with the arrival of the first European settlers. The Indians, first seeing it near European settlements, called it "white man's footprint."

The Plantago species are not related to the banana family plantains or the water plantains (Alisma species) which have similar leaves but are inedible. Plantain is one of the early spring edible greens. Each leaf has a long, fibrous leafstalk, so is best eaten raw when the leaves are young and small. English plantain is seen first in early spring and common plantain comes up a little later. Either one gets tough by mid-spring and by then it is best eaten as part of soup stock.

Internally, plantain provides beta carotene, calcium and a carbohydrate fiber called mucilage.
This fiber helps prevent heart disease in that it reduces both the L.D.L (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and triglycerides.
As an aid for healthy digestion, plantain can help with digestive problems related to antibiotics and food allergies. The plant is very soothing and reduces inflammation in the gut lining. The seeds act similar to psyllium husks by absorbing toxins, firming stools and as a gentle laxative to clean out the digestive tract.
This soothing action also makes the plant useful for respiratory problems. Since it is rich in the mineral silica, plantain makes an excellent expectorant. This means it eliminates mucus and soothes inflamed, sore membranes such as with a sore throat, congestion and nagging coughs.

Known as the "mother of herbs", there seems to be very few health conditions that plantain can't be of an aide. According to the American Materia Medica, most blood diseases, many glandular diseases, digestive issues, female disorders, skin problems and even arthritis can be helped with the healing properties of this undervalued plant.

Externally, being an astringent with antimicrobial properties, plantain is excellent for wounds, bug bites, bee stings and rashes. Should you be stung by a bee, bothered by other biting bugs, or gotten into poison ivy, look around and you'll probably find plantain growing somewhere nearby. Make a poultice by picking a few leaves and chewing them into a mash and then placing the wad on the wound. If necessary you can then cover it with a band-aid or strip of cloth to hold it in place. Very impressive is how quickly the pain from the sting is neutralized and diminishes.
A plantain poultice can also be used for drawing out splinters or thorns.

By infusing the leaves, flower stems and seeds in a good carrier oil such as olive oil, it can become a very useful salve for use as a wound healer, skin soother and in general, an excellent balm to keep on hand. The balm below has multiple uses for all age groups. Bug bites, rashes, sore baby bottoms, elderly skin care, wound care, chapped hands and lips, the list goes on for a very versatile healing salve.

Plantain Healing Balm/Salve
Plantain Violet Lip Balm

By infusing the leaves, flower stems and seeds in a good quality apple cider vinegar, it can become a safe, deet-free insect repellent safe for all ages and even your pets.

Plantain and Lavender Vinegar Deet free Bug deterrent
Plantain, Comfrey, Yarrow Herbal Vinegar Deet Free Bug Spray
Vinegar Infusion of bug repelling herbs

Plantain Violet Balm/Salve