Ribwort plantain – uses, effects and production

The ribwort ( Plantago lanceolata ) is one of the most widely used medicinal herbs in Europe. It is not called by chance, as it grows in many places along the way. In 2014 it was voted Medicinal Plant of the Year for its diverse effects.


  • Profile of the ribwort plantain
  • Medical history
  • Ribwort Plantain Ingredients
    • Polysaccharides
    • Flavonoids, tannins and essential oils
  • Effects
  • Study situation
  • Applications
    • Ribwort cough syrup
    • Plantain tea
    • Ribwort syrup
    • Plantain juice
    • Ribwort plantain ointment
  • Side effects
  • Buy ribwort
  • Ribwort plantain in the kitchen
  • Confusion with common plantain

Profile of the ribwort plantain

  • Scientific name: Plantago lanceolata
  • Common names:eagle leaf, eagle herb, kite, seven ribs, ribbed rod, snake tongue, lung leaf, sheep tongue, lambs tongue, lying leaf, medicinal plantain and many more
  • Plant family:Plantain family ( Plantaginaceae )
  • Distribution:In Europe in locations with nutrient-rich soils
  • Parts of plants used:leaves, flowers, buds, roots and seeds
  • Ingredients (selection):tannins, germanium, silica, potassium, zinc, vitamins B and C.
  • Application areas:
    • external wounds and burns
    • Insect bites
    • Skin inflammation
    • Pulled muscles, bruises, bruises
    • Asthmaand bronchitis
    • Inflammation of the mouthand throat
    • Urinary tract infections
    • Coughand flu-like infections
    • Irritable boweland gastric mucosal inflammation
    • Pneumoniaand other lung diseases

Medical history

Ribwort plantain has been handed down as a medicinal plant since ancient times. The ancient Greeks, for example, boiled it in water and wine and drank it against feverish illnesses and lung diseases. The medieval naturopath Hildegard von Bingen used the medicinal herb against gout .

Plantain, both broad and ribwort, was used in the Middle Ages to treat bladder and kidney diseases, epilepsy and tuberculosis. Applied externally, they served as medicine against warts , burns and poorly healing wounds.

Ribwort Plantain Ingredients

Ribwort plantain contains many bioactive substances, including

  • Tannins,
  • Aucubin,
  • Catalpol,
  • Germanium,
  • Silica,
  • Potassium,
  • Zinc,
  • Mucilage,
  • Zircon
  • as well as vitaminsB and C.

The mucous and tannins have an antibacterial effect and dissolve mucus in the case of thick coughs . Iridoids, such as Aucubin and Catapol, make up around three percent of biochemical substances. In addition, they inhibit inflammation and have an antibiotic effect, both against microorganisms and against fungi.

The contained aucubin softens stimuli, inhibits inflammation and also has an antibiotic effect. On the skin, it has a decongestant effect and soothes itching. Catalpol has a similar effect and also has positive effects on the functions of the liver .


The medicinal plant offers up to six percent polysaccharides. These sugar molecules, made from galacturonic acid and galactose, act as mucus and nutrients. They store energy, strengthen the vascular walls and stabilize the metabolism.

Flavonoids, tannins and essential oils

The plantain family contains flavonoids that inhibit inflammation and have an antioxidant effect. Tannins in the plant have an astringent effect, i.e. they pull vessels together. Therefore herbs with such substances are important to accelerate both internal and external wound healing . The plantain also contains essential oils that fight off pathogenic microbes and thus prevent diseases .


Ribwort has a long medical history in the treatment of lung diseases, which is why it is also known as lungwort. It has been proven that the contained silica strengthens the lung tissue and the mucous membranes are relieved by the mucous substances, which in turn facilitates coughing up in the case of bronchial infections.

In summary, the medicinal plant also known as medicinal plantain has a decongestant, antiseptic and antibacterial effect:

  • It promotes expectoration,
  • soothes bleeding wounds,
  • disinfected,
  • inhibits inflammation,
  • urinates,
  • softens stimuli,
  • protects mucous membranes,
  • pulls tissue together,
  • accelerates wound healing
  • and relieves insect bites, swellings, bruises, strains and sprains.

It helps with coughs , bronchitis and pneumonia, as well as mouth or throat infections . The medicinal plant lowers fever , reduces sunburn and can have positive effects on muscle diseases. Their bioactive substances work together to prevent diseases that are triggered by microbes.

The ribwort is known to hikers as a “first aid plant” for minor skin injuries, bruises, bruises, strains, insect bites and sunburn. For this purpose, the fresh leaves are chewed and placed on the affected area.

Experienced hikers put the leaves in their shoes against blisters and rub sore spots with the pressed juice. The silica has a hemostatic effect and contracts the wound, while at the same time it is disinfected. This helps well in minor accidents, for example if the knee or elbow is grazed.

In the case of insect bites, a layer of ribwort soothes the itching, reduces swelling and prevents the bite from getting infected.

Study situation

Scientists from Santiago de Compostela demonstrated in an in vitro study in 2006 that ribwort plantain inhibits inflammation. Japanese researchers found in another study with mice that plantain had soothing effects on colon inflammation.

Scientists from Münster also provided evidence in guinea pigs that plantain extract relieved cramps and soothed spasmodic coughs . Plantain preparations are recognized in the European Union by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) as a cough and cold remedy.

Ribwort plantain grows mainly on roadsides and on natural meadows. (Image: AnnaReinert / stock.adobe.com)


The fresh seeds of the plant, drunk with plenty of water, are effective for constipation . The fresh juice, squeezed from the interfaces of the plant, if gargled, helps with inflamed almonds or inflammation in the throat. You can also apply it to eye infections. To do this, press it directly onto the inflamed areas.

Ribwort cough syrup

Ribwort plantain is primarily a remedy for bronchitis, colds and thick coughs . This is why the medicinal plant is found in various cough teas, cough drops and cough syrups.

Plantain tea

The most common use, whether ready-made from the pharmacy, the health food store or homemade, is Spitzwegerichtee. This should take about 15 minutes to develop its full effect. In the case of lung diseases, congested airways and bronchial cough , the tea is drunk and gargled with it in the case of a mouth or throat infection.

In the case of flu-like infections, wild mallow , alantroot and ribwort complement each other in their effects, whereby half of a tea mixture should consist of plantain. When cooled, the tea is a good facial tonic against pimples, blackheads and blemished skin .

Ribwort syrup

In pharmacies you can buy ribwort in the form of dragees, tablets, syrup and fresh or pressed juice.

If you want to make the syrup yourself, take several handfuls of plant leaves, sugar, water and lemon juice. Boil the cleaned leaves with 100 grams of sugar in one liter of water, pounding them with a spoon so that the juice comes out. The brew then turns a mossy green.

After about ten minutes of cooking, turn off the plate and let the brew evaporate on the hot plate until the liquid is about halfway through. Now strain the syrup and add a little lemon juice. To make the ribwort syrup more digestible, you can add a little honey (preferably forest honey).

Plantain juice

The freshly squeezed juice from the plant helps against intestinal and stomach inflammation and digestive problems when taken internally . Externally, it works against skin inflammation and is a proven home remedy for acne .

Ribwort plantain ointment

To make a balm against insect bites, heat 100 milliliters of vegetable oil with ten grams of finely chopped ribwort leaves. Boil the mixture for 20 minutes, then strain it and add ten grams of beeswax to the still hot mass. Fill the balm in jars or jars, let it cool down and close the jars with lids.

Side effects

There are no known side effects of ribwort. You should only avoid the medicinal herb if you have allergic reactions to plantain plants.

Buy ribwort

Ribwort plantain as a whole plant can only rarely be bought in the garden market. The herb is far too common outside for that. It is cheap to buy online from some dealers. In herbalists, tea shops, pharmacies and some supermarkets, however, you can buy dried leaves that can be used for tea.

Ribwort plantain in the kitchen

The health-promoting properties of the ribwort can also be used as food. It tastes a bit like mushrooms and this slightly spicy flavor develops excellently in a wild herbs Salad, for example with sorrel , dandelion , goutweed and chervil.

Cut into small pieces, the leaves go well with omelets, herb quark, cream cheese and yoghurt. It can also be used in a pesto with oil, for example with parsley and basil .

In smoothies it goes well with fruits such as bananas and apples , but also with vegetables such as kale , lamb’s lettuce or spinach. Since the plantain is very tasty, it should only be used sparingly in a smoothie.

Confusion with common plantain

Ribwort plantain can be confused with the closely related broad plantain. As the name suggests, however, the leaves of the common plantain are broad and egg-shaped, while those of the ribwort are narrow and lanceolate. A mix-up would not be dangerous, the bioactive substances overlap, the common plantain is also a medicinal plant , whereas the ribwort plantain has a stronger effect. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)


by Abdullah Sam
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