Plantago major

Plantago major L. (Plantaginaceae)

Common Plantain, Whiteman’s Foot, Daun Sejumbok

Plantago major L. is a small perennial herb. Leaves are nearly all basal, exstipulate, lanceolate to ovate, 5-20 cm long and rosette. Flowers are small, white, in dense spike-like inflorescence. Sepals are broadly elliptic, oblong to rounded obtuse or subacute and corolla are greenish or yellowish, with four lobed and imbricate. Seeds are dull black and endospermous.


It is found in Europe, Northern and Central Asia, and introduced all over the world.


Aucubin, catalpol, scutellarein, nepetin, chloro genie acid, neochlorogenic acid, hispidulin, homoplantaginin, nepitrin, ursolic acid and others.

Traditional Medicinal Uses

The Greeks and Romans used it as an astringent, to heal wounds, asthma, fever and eye disorders. In Brazil, it has been used to treat skin ulceration (cutaneous leishmaniasis) caused by Leishmania braziliensis.l] P. major has been used in Turkey in the treatment of ulcers by taking the powdered dried leaves together with honey daily before breakfast. Infusion of the leaf has been taken for diarrhoea, ulcers, bloody urine, digestive disorders, and excess mucous discharge. The American Indian groups make use of a poultice of the leaves for pain, swelling, cuts, wounds, sores, infections, blisters, insect bites, snakebites and haemorrhoids. Its seeds are used to induce sweating, increase flow of urine, treat diarrhoea, dysentery, rheumatism, malaria, asthma, kidney problems, bladder diseases, gonorrhoea and piles. Its roots are used to treat fever, respiratory infections and constipation. The Commision E approved the internal use of plantain for catarrhs of the respiratory tract and inflammatory alterations of the oral and pharyngeal mucosa while its external application is approved for inflammatory reactions of the skin.

Pharmacological Activities

Analgesic, Antibacterial, Anti-diarrhoeal, Anti-inflammatory, Anticancer, Antioxidant, Antiprotozoal, Antiviral, Immunomodulatory, Immuno-stimulatory, Proliferative, Antiulcerogenic, Antimutagenic, Uterotonic and Wound healing.


A daily dose of 8 to 16 g of the whole plant or seeds in the form of a decoction or extract is used to treat oedema, dysuria, haematuria, persistent cough, bronchitis and ophthalmia. Approximately 2 to 4 ml of the fluid extract taken orally three times daily serves for general well being. As a rinse or gargle, 1.4 g of cut herb is immersed in 150 ml of cold water for 1 to 2 hours. For internal use, 1.4 g of herb is immersed in 150 ml of boiled water for 10-15 min, drunk as infusion, for 3 to 4 times daily.

Adverse Reactions

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, anorexia, bloating, hyper-sensitivity and dermatitis may arise. Life threatening anaphylaxis may occur in more serious cases.


The 70% ethanol extract was found to be toxic to shrimps but P. major possesses a low toxicity in rats after oral and intraperitoneal administration.


Should not be used during pregnancy and lactation. Should not be used in persons with intestinal obstruction or those who developed hyper sensitivity to plantain.

Drug-Herb Interactions

Decreases the effects of carbamazepine and enhances the effects of cardiac glycosides, /^-Mockers and calcium channel blockers.