This summer was an epic crop of plantain. We have two large hugel beds which retain a lot of moisture. We had a very wet summer again, so along with the nettle going crazy, we had a healthy patch of plantain growing right along side. The leaves are edible raw as well as the seeds. When going for my morning nettle harvest, I would inevitably get stung. The plantain is a super quick aid to stop the burn. Simply chew it up and place on the red spot.
Plantain is well known for its antimicrobial properties and ability to draw out infection and speed healing, which is why it’s so often recommended to relieve insect bites and stings. Since I had so much, I decided to make an infusion so I could benefit from it’s healing properties throughout the year as a salve. This is really helpful to have on hand when going on hikes or anywhere you face mosquitos, as it has the ability to take the itch out of the bite. It’s also wonderful for scrapes, cuts and bruises. My kids use it throughout the summer. In the winter, it can be used as a moisturizing lip balm.
I am continually learning new things about a plant. And plantain is a good one to research. It is often the plant easiest to recognize and the most available in the city, often growing in the most disturbed places. Herbalists consider plantain to be a “sacred herb” and it’s called the “Mother of Plants.”
Plantain and Olive Oil infusion made this summer
artwork by Nathalie Parenteau, Cranberry Picker
I have been growing a lot in my knowledge of plants and preparations this year. It truly is a magical experience in every way. I find it incredibly soothing to commune with the plants while making medicine. I must say, it is one of the most empowering experiences I have participated in. To see others as well as myself experience the healing benefits of the plants, roots, barks, flowers and fruits. All these magical parts, willingly working together to give us assistance in our struggles here in a broken world.
I was privileged this summer to go up to the Boreal forest and gather my own Labrador tea leaves, willow and a few juniper berries. I have yet to collect my own crampbark. But I now have a place to go for next year.
There are so many anti-inflammatory plants. I keep my eye out for them since I have struggled with joint pain and many other pains throughout my life, especially in the last few years.
This infusion recipe comes from the incredible herbalist, Beverley Gray from the Yukon. Her book, The Boreal Herbal has been just what I hoped for in a resource book. Teaching me about each plant, it’s growing habits, it’s incredible health and medicinal benefits and also it’s historical and cultural relevance to the Indigenous people. I am so grateful for the work she has done and many others in recording this knowledge for others to learn from. What a gift. And here I share my adapted version with you!
Boreal Muscle-and-Pain Relief Oil Infusion
- 1 part willow inner bark and leaves
- 1 part juniper berries, crushed
- 5 parts crampbark
- 1/2 part Labrador tea leaves
- with Vit E oil
- 4 drops Peppermint oil
1 cup infused oil
2 tablespoons beeswax
1/4 teaspoon vitamin-E oil (2 capsules)
4 drops benzoin oil (optional)
Essential oils (optional)
- Measure out herb-infused oil.
- Melt beeswax in the top of the double boiler, then add the infused oil and stir with a stainless steel spoon.
- When the oil and beeswax have melted together add vitamin-E oil, benzoin, and/or essential oils. Pour the mixture into a measuring cup.
- Carefully pour into clean, sterilized jars.
- Wait until the salve has fully cooled before putting on the lids.
- Cap and label your salve.