Ribwort Plantain

Ribwort Plantain
© Sertürner Bildarchiv

Botanical name

Ribwort plantain, English plantain, and narrowleaf plantain - Plantago lanceolata L.


Plantain family (Plantaginaceae)

Useful information about the plant

Plantain is found in all temperate climates around the world and mainly grows in meadows and pastures, often on roadsides and ruderal like rubble piles. The genus name Plantago, derived from Latin "planta" (= foot sole, foot face) with the common suffix of plants "ago" refers in part to the flat, oval leaves of the plantain (P. major) lying closely on the ground in rosettes, on the other hand that the plantain is formed by being trampled by feet. The long-lanceolate and typical parallel leaves of the plantain are referred to in the epithet lanceolata (from the Latin "lanceolata" = small lance). They are numerous in a basal rosette, about 20 inches long and in comparison with the leaves of the plantain they are partly erect. The small flowers are in dense, cylindrical spikes at the end of long leaves standing out from furrowed scapes. They flower from bottom to top, which is easy to recognise from the yellowish white stamens outstanding from the corolla. Flowering period is May to September.

Medicinally used plant parts (drug)

The leaves and scapes are used whole or crushed. The commercial drug is mostly from farms in Eastern European countries and a small part of Holland.

Ingredients of the drug

Ribwort plantain leaves contain mucilage, iridoid and phenylethanoid.

Descriptions of the quality

The quality of plantain leaves (Plantaginis lanceolata folium) is specified in the European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur.).

Medical Application

Recognised medical use

Internally for catarrh of the respiratory tract and inflammatory lesions of the oral and pharyngeal mucosa. Externally for inflammation of the skin (Commission E, ESCOP).

Traditional use

Traditionally used to strengthen the respiratory system (traditional use in accordance with § 109a).

Medicinal herbal preparations in finished drug products


Prepared drugs: see package insert;
Tea infusion: drink a cup of ribwort plantain tea three times a day; average daily dose in adults and adolescents 3 to 6g of the drug, children under 6 years 2 to 4g of the drug.

Preparation of a tea infusion

Pour 150ml of boiling water over 2 to 4g of chopped plantain leaves with and strain after 10 to 15 minutes. To make better use of the mucilage of the drug put the infusion in cold water, strain after 2 hours and bring briefly to the boil.


There is currently no experience on the safety of the use of plantain during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Its use against coughs in children under 4 years old is not recommended, seek medical advice.

Side effects

None known


None known


Drug monographs

Commission E, ESCOP

Further reading

Wichtl: Teedrogen und Phytopharmaka, pg. 514
Schilcher: Leitfaden Phytotherapie, pg. 248
Van Wyk: Handbuch der Arzneipflanzen, pg. 246
Kommentar zum Europäischen Arzneibuch (Ribwort plantain leaves, no. 1884)

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