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Ribwort plantain

Ribwort plantain is used in salads and as a medicinal herb with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial qualities.

Pictogram nutrient tables

Ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata) eases coughs and soothes mucous membrane irritation associated with upper respiratory tract infections. Bruised or crushed ribwort leaves are applied topically to alleviate pain caused by insect bites and stings.
You can use fresh ribwort in salads or juice the leaves.1,2

Culinary uses:

Ribwort plantain leaves are quite bitter and are tedious to prepare as the fibrous strands in the leaves are best removed before eating. For the best flavor, harvest and eat the raw or cooked leaves when they are young. The very young leaves are less bitter and not as fibrous as the more mature leaves.
The dried seed can be ground into a powder and added to flour when making bread, cakes, and other baked goods.
The whole seeds can be boiled and used to thicken sauces, soups, and desserts.2,3

Not only vegans and vegetarians should read this:
A Vegan Diet Can Be Unhealthy. Nutrition Mistakes

Finding wild:

Ribwort plantain is a common weed that grows along paths and in pastures and fields all over the world. The best time to gather it is from April through August.

Nutritional information:

  • Ribwort seeds have 17.4% (highly digestible) protein, 6.7% fat, and 24.6% total dietary fiber.
  • Ribwort seed oil has a high percentage of linoleic acid (40.6%) and oleic acid (39.1%) and a minor proportion of linolenic acid (6.9%).2

Use as a medicinal plant:

Ribwort contains mucilage, iridoid glycosides (particularly aucubin), complex polysaccharides, and tannins. Together these constituents are thought to give ribwort mild anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antihemorrhagic, and expectorant actions.
Use the leaves of Plantago lanceolate to treat a wide range of complaints including diarrhea, gastritis, peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids, cystitis, bronchitis, catarrh, sinusitis, asthma, and hay fever.
Herbs that calm coughs often contain complex polysaccharides and have a soothing effect; they are also known as demulcents. Ribwort is approved by the German Commission E for internal use to ease coughs and mucous membrane irritation associated with upper respiratory tract infections as well as topical use for skin inflammations.
Tea made from ribwort leaves is a highly effective cough medicine and helps treat people suffering from chronic bronchitis.
Because of the anti-inflammatory and healing effects of ribwort, it may be beneficial in some people with peptic ulcer.
The leaves are applied topically, crushed or heated, in poultices to treat skin inflammations, cuts, insect bites and stings, and swelling caused by injury.
Use the seeds to treat parasitic worms.
Ribwort is a safe and effective emergency treatment for bleeding. It quickly staunches blood flow and has skin regenerating properties which encourage wound healing.
Plantain seeds contain up to 30% mucilage which swells up in the gut, acting as a bulk laxative and soothing irritated membranes.
A distilled water made from the plant makes an excellent eye lotion.1,2,3


Ribwort is a perennial herb with a well-developed taproot. The sword-shaped leaves are up to 30 cm long, grow on stalks, and taper to the tip. The leaves have 3-7 veins running along them and have soft slender hairs. The tall flower stalks do not have leaves and are usually deeply furrowed. The flowers are yellowish.3

Cultivation and harvest:

A common weed, ribwort can be found growing in the wild all over the world, often along paths or in grass pastures.

General information:

Ribwort is a flowering plant in the ribwort family Plantaginaceae. It is also known as ribwort plantain, narrowleaf plantain, English plantain, ribleaf, and lamb's tongue. Plantain should not be confused with the banana-like vegetable of the same name.
These green, leafy weeds are native to Europe and Asia, but they now grow practically anywhere in the world as an introduced species.
The leaves of ribwort are primarily used in traditional medicine. Ribwort seeds can also be used medicinally, usually for their mild laxative effects.1,3

According to German Wikipedia: Referring to the plants antibacterial and hemostatic qualities, a team of scientists (the study group for the history of medicinal plants) from the University of Würzburg chose Plantago lanceolata as the medicinal plant of the year in 2014.4

Literature / Sources:

  1. Wikipedia. Plantago lanceolata, Plantago_lanceolata
  2. “Plantain.” Healing Weeds. search?q=ribwort
  3. “Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata).” Wild Edibles Database. ribwort-plantain-plantago-lanceolata/ (accessed January 26, 2019)
  4. Wikipedia. Spitzwegerich, Spitzwegerich