4. Plantain (Plantago major)
Whenever I walk out into nature I always keep an eye out for plantain leaf. It has rescued me so many times in the past that I even stash a handful of leaves in my pocket when hiking in unfamiliar territory. You never know what might happen. If I receive a loving sting from a bee or wasp the pain is quickly assuaged by the juice of the plantain leaf.
One autumn I was harvesting some rhubarb at a local CSA, planted quite some distance from the farmhouse, when the knife slipped and cut a deep gash in my finger. It was speed bleeding and I needed to slow it down immediately. I grabbed a few plantain leaves off the ground and chewed them quickly to a green, wet pulp, then applied it to the wound. I then wrapped a few whole leaves around the finger, gathered up the rhubarb and headed back across the wide field to my car. I noticed there was no blood seeping out under the leaves and when I removed the poultice the bleeding had stopped and all pain was gone.
Folk medicine attributes plantain with a wide assortment of uses, from respiratory ailments to skin inflammation, sores and ulcers. It can even be used to relieve itching from poison ivy and poison oak. A good thing to note is that it does have laxative properties and is best administered internally as a tea, dried herbal capsules or tincture.