Plantago major

scientific name: 
Plantago major L.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Annual or perennial acaulescent herb with a taproot producing numerous fibrous lateral roots. Leaves, glabrous, forming a basal rosette, petioles 2-15 cm long, blades ovate to elliptic, 2.5-25 x 3-12 cm, base abruptly narrow, apex obtuse, margins coarsely dentate; inflorescence a spike spike, linear-cylindrical, 5-25 cm x 6-8 mm, scape 10-30 cm. long; flowers perfect, corolla lobes 0.5-1 mm long, numerous, sessile, green; fruit a capsule ovate-elliptic 3-4 mm long, seeds brown, oblong 1 x 0.7 mm.








  leaf, infusion, orally2


  leaf, decoction, instillation3-4

crise de nerf:

  leaf, decoction, orally1


leaf, maceration, instillation43


leaf, infusion, eye baths2,43

malozie (eye injuries):

  leaf, decoction, eye baths5

blindness in RD:

leaf, juice, instillation4

stress (mala sangre):

leaf, decoction, orally1,5

For conjunctivitis:

Prepare a decoction or infusion with 20 grams (2-3 spoonfuls) of fresh leaf in 1/2 liter (2 cups) of water.  For decoction, boil for at least 10 minutes in a covered pot.  For infusion, add boiling water to 20 grams (2-3 spoonfuls) of fresh leaf, cover pot and leave to settle during 5-10 minutes.  Filter, allow to cool and wash eye with the content of a dropper (3 mL) every 2 hours42.

All home-made preparations with medicinal herbs for eye use must be preserved cold and should be disposed of 24 hours after preparation.

For inflammation and nervous breakdown: There is no available information establishing a means of preparation and dosage other than that referred to by traditional use.

Use against "bad blood" is a traditional cultural use and is not classified in the TRAMIL program.

According to published and other information:

Use for "malozie" (eye injuries) including conjunctivitis is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys, toxicity studies and available published scientific information.

For application in the eyes, strict hygiene measures should be observed in order to avoid contamination or additional infection, and contact with conjunctiva-irritating substances should be avoided.

In the event of conjunctivitis, there is the risk of increasing irritation by applying the leaf juice.

To avoid eye irritation, the aqueous preparation should be filtered before application.

Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should eye injuries or conjunctivitis persist for more than 3 days, seek medical attention.

Use for inflammation and "nervous breakdown" is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys, toxicity studies and available published scientific information.

Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should "nervous breakdown" persist for more than 7 days, seek medical attention.

Not for use during pregnancy, during lactation or by children under 5 years old.

TRAMIL Research37

The hydroalcoholic extract (70% tincture) from the aerial parts (283 mg/mL of total solids) did not show genotoxic effects when added at increasing concentrations (0.4-5.66 mg/mL) (mg of total solids/mL) to culture medium in vitro in the somatic segregation model using Aspegillus nidulans D30.

TRAMIL Research21

The aqueous extract administered intravenously to rats (30, 100, 300 and 1000 mg/kg) had an LD84 = 475 mg/kg, LD50 = 175 mg/kg and DL16 = 64 mg/kg.

TRAMIL Research38

The LD50 of the hydroalcoholic extract (70%) from the aerial parts (283 mg of total solids/mL) administered orally to mice was 1380 mg/kg.  At a maximum dose of 1750 mg/kg (stated in mg of total solids per kg), with 14 days of observation after administration, there was no mortality and no toxicity signs were observed.

TRAMIL Research39

The lyophilized aqueous extract (decoction) from the fresh leaf, administered orally to 10 NGP mice (5 males and 5 females), at a dosage of 2 g/kg/day for 5 days a week during 40 days, showed, as from day 2, a decrease in the body righting reflex; as from day 12 –in addition to this symptom- a decrease in the prehensile activity front and rear limbs, and a decrease in arousal reaction.  The symptoms continued until the end of treatment.  The observation period was 7 days after treatment, and there was no mortality as a result of this test.

TRAMIL Research40

The lyophilized aqueous extract (decoction) from the fresh leaf, in a solution of 1.2 g of lyophilized extract in 12 mL of de-ionized, previously filtered water was instilled in the conjunctival sac (200 mL/day) of 5 rabbits for 5 consecutive days, and caused moderate irritation 24 hours after treatment inception.  Irritation disappeared after 48 hours and did not reappear for 5 days of observation.

Trabajo TRAMIL44 (will be translated in 3rd Ed.)

El extracto acuoso (decocción 30%) de hoja seca, administrado (0.1 mL/día) en el saco conjuntivaldel ojo derecho, (ojo izquierdo control), en 3 conejos machos Nueva Zelanda, efectuando las lecturas según la escala de Draize a las 1, 24, 48 y 72 horas, mostró ligeras afectaciones en la conjuntiva pero solo para la primera hora de observación.

La tintura (maceración hidroalcohólica) (10:1) de hoja fresca administrada por vía oral al ratón Swiss albino (peso 18 a 22 g)mostró una DL50 = 182.54 mg/kg, según el método OECD-198745.(will be translated in 3rd Ed.)

The extract from the dried leaf had cytotoxic activity in vitro in the sarcoma-180 test41.

There is no available information documenting the safety of medicinal use in children or in pregnant or lactating women.

The leaf contains flavonoids: apigenin6, baicalein, scutellarein7, hispidulin8, luteolin, nepetin6; iridoids: aucubin, catalpol6, aucuboside9; benzenoids: benzoic acid and derivatives, gentisic, syringic, tirosol, vanillic and salicylic acids10; phenylpropanoids: chlorogenic acid11, cinnamic acid and derivatives, ρ-coumaric and ferulic acids10,plantamajoside12; quinoids: phylloquinone13; sesquiterpenes: loliolide10; carbohydrates: plantaglucide14.

The seed has been extensively studied and contains, among other components:

triterpenes15, iridoids16, fixed oils17, monoterpenic alkaloids15, carbohydrates18.

Proximate analysis of 100 g of fresh leaf19: calories: 61; water: 81%; proteins: 2.5%; fat: 0.3%; carbohydrates: 14.6%; ash: 1.2%; calcium: 184 mg; phosphorus: 52 mg; iron: 1.2 mg; sodium: 16 mg; potassium: 277 mg; carotene: 2520 µg; riboflavin: 0.28 mg; niacin: 0.8 mg; ascorbic acid: 8 mg.

A report on the carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamin and mineral composition classifies the leaf of this plant in the group of nutrients20.

TRAMIL Research21

The aqueous extract from the leaf, in carrageenan-induced pedal edema in rats, caused non-significant anti-inflammatory effects.

TRAMIL Research22

The decoction of the fresh leaf (50 g/L) administered orally (10-20 mL, 3 times per day during 3 days) to 100 patients had anti-inflammatory effects against gingivitis.  Effects were measured as per patients’ subjective appreciation and the evaluation of a stomatologist.

The same preparation in equal number of patients and equal dosage showed subjective effects against dyspepsia.  Effects were noted approximately 10 minutes after administration.  All patients had been previously examined with gastroscopy and the “functional dyspepsia” diagnosis had been confirmed.

TRAMIL Research23

The lyophilized aqueous extract (125 mg/mL) - obtained from the decoction of the leaf - was administered orally (2 g/kg/day/5 consecutive days) to 10 Hsd: ICR (CD-1) mice (5 males and 5 females) as per Lapa protocol24.  The vehicle control was distilled and de-ionized water (0.4 mL), administered to another group of 10 mice of the same strain and characteristics.  On day 5, the following tests were conducted: hole-board, spheres, rota-rod and pentobarbital-induced sleepiness.  In the hole-board assay, there was a statistically significant difference in the curiosity test, with possible anxiolytic effects, as the number of holes explored was higher than in the control group (for both males and females).  In the sphere-hiding test, there was a decrease of the average activity of females treated vs. the controls.  This was not the case with males.  In the other tests, there were no statistically significant differences.

TRAMIL Research46(will be translated in 3rd Ed.)

El extractoacuoso(decocción) de hoja, no mostró actividad antimicrobiana in vitro a una concentración de 573 µg/mL contra Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus ni Staphylococcus saprophyticus.

The decoction of the leaf showed in vitro inhibition of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus, isolated from human conjunctivitis secretions25.

The leaf extract in vitro in isolated guinea pig tracheal preparation (200, 400, 800, 1000 and 3200 µg/mL) caused a relaxation of the tracheal smooth muscle in a dose-dependent manner, even in the presence of serotonin, histamine and acetylcholine26.

The extract from the leaf, administered orally to Wistar rats (80-640 mg/kg) in the cumulative administration model, caused a non-significant decrease of blood pressure.  By intravenous administration (10-80 mg/kg), it caused hypotension; this effect was blocked by diphenhydramine, but not by atropine27.

The aqueous extract from the plant in vivo caused anti-inflammatory effects and reduced capillary permeability in rats28.

The extract from the leaf administered orally to guinea pigs (40 mg/kg) caused a decrease in the respiratory volume, without affecting volume per minute29.

The aqueous extract administered to rabbits (100 mg/kg/day) during 15 days in the egg albumin-induced anaphylactic shock test did not show any protective effects30.

A chromatographic fraction of the dried leaf administered externally (10%) accelerated the healing of sores in rabbits31.

The hot aqueous extract administered orally to humans induced diuretic effects32.

The leaf and root are claimed to have antispasmodic properties on isolated guinea pig ileum and to be an analgesic for pain induced by carrageenan injection33.

The aqueous extract is reported as having central passivity effects, loss of auricular reflex, bradypnea and enophthalmos34.

The leaf is claimed to have antipruriginous activity when topically applied35.

The plant is claimed to be active as immunomodulator and stimulant of granulocyte phagocytosis36.




1 WENIGER B, ROUZIER M, 1986 Enquête TRAMIL. Service Oecuménique d'Entraide SOE, Port au Prince, Haïti.

2 CHARLES C, 1988 TRAMIL survey. Movement for Cultural Awareness MCA, Roseau, Dominica.

3 LONGUEFOSSE JL, NOSSIN E, 1990-95 Enquête TRAMIL. Association pour la valorisation des plantes médicinales de la Caraïbe AVPMC, Fort de France, Martinique.

4 GERMOSEN-ROBINEAU L, GERONIMO M, AMPARO C, 1984 Encuesta TRAMIL. enda-caribe, Santo Domingo, Rep. Dominicana.

5 EDOUARD JA, 1992 Enquête TRAMIL. Lycée agricole, Baie-Mahault, Guadeloupe.

6 LEBEDEV-KOSOV VI, 1980 Flavonoids and iridoids of Plantago major L. and Plantago asiatica L. Rast Resur 16:403-406.

7 MAKSYUTINA NP, 1971 Baicalein and scutellarein derivatives in Plantago major leaves. Khim Prir Soedin 7(3):374-375.

8 HARBORNE JB, WILLIAMS CA, 1971 Comparative biochemistry of flavonoids. XIII. 6-hydroxyluteolin and scutellarein as phyletic markers in higher plants. Phytochemistry 10:367-378.

9 ANDRZEJEWSKA-GOLEC E, SWIATEK L, 1984 Chemotaxonomic investigations on the genus plantago. I. Analysis of iridoid fraction. Herba Pol 30(1):9-16.

10 PAILER M, HASCHKE-HOFMEISTER E, 1969 Components of Plantago major. Planta Med 17(2):139-145.

11 MAKSYUTINA NP, 1971 Hydroxycinnamic acids from Plantago major and Plantago lanceolata. Khim Prir Soedin 7(6):824-825.

12 NORO Y, HISATA Y, OKUDA K, KAWAMURA T, KASAHARA Y, TANAKA T, SAKAI E, NISIBE S, SASAHARA M, 1991 Pharmacognostical studies of plantagins herba (VII) on the phenylethanoid contents ofPlantago spp. Shoyakugaku Zasshi 45(1):24-28.

13 JANSSON O, 1974 Hylloquinone (vitamin k-1) levels in leaves of plant species differing in susceptibility to 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid. Physiol Plant 31:323.

14 OBOLENTSEVA GV, KHADZHAI YI, 1966 Pharmacological testing of plantaglucide. Farmakol Toksikol 29(4):469-472.

15 BALBAA SI, KARAWYA MS, AFIFI MS, 1971 Pharmacognostical study of the seeds of certain plantago species growing in Egypt. U A R J Pharm Sci 12(1):35-52.

16 KUBOTA S, 1955 Chinese materia medica from which medicines have been introduced into Japan. Trans 9th Congr Far East Ass Trop Med 2:639.

17 ATAL CK, KAPOOR KK, SIDDIQUI HH, 1964 Studies on Indian seed oils. Part 1. Preliminary screening of linoleic acid rich oils. Indian J Pharmacy 26:163-164.

18 SAMUELSEN AB, COHEN EH, PAULSEN BS, BRULL LP, THOMAS-OATES JE, 1999 Structural studies of a heteroxylan from Plantago major L. seeds by partial hydrolysis, HPAEC-PAD, methylation and GC-MS, ESMS and ESMS/MS. Carbohydr Res 315(3/4):312-318.

19 DUKE JA, ATCHLEY AA, 1986 Handbook of proximate analysis tables of higher plants. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press. p131.

20 SIDDIQUI M, HAKIM M, 1991 Crude drugs and their nutrient values. J of the National Integrated Med Assoc33(1):8-10.

21 CAMBAR P, 1989 Efecto antiinflamatorio del extracto acuoso de la hoja de llantén(Plantago major). Informe TRAMIL. Unidad de Farmacología, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras UNAH, Tegucigalpa, Honduras. TRAMIL IV, Tela, Honduras, UNAH/enda-caribe.

22 CARBALLO A, 1995 Plantas medicinales del Escambray cubano. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio provincial de producción de medicamentos, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba.

23 PAZOS L, COTO T, GONZALEZ S, QUIROS S, 2004 Actividad sedante-tranquilizante en ratón, dosis repetidas del extracto acuoso de hoja de Plantago major. Informe TRAMIL.Laboratorio de Ensayos Biológicos, Universidad de Costa Rica, San Pedro, Costa Rica.

24 Lapa AJ, Souccar C, Lima-Landman MT, De Lima TC,2002 Métodos de evaluación de la actividad farmacológica de plantas medicinales. RIVAPLAMED. Red de validación de plantas medicinales. CYTED/CNPq. Programa Iberoamericano de Ciencia y Tecnología para el Desarrollo. Sao Paulo, Brasil.

25 CACERES A, GIRON LM, ALVARADO SR, TORRES MF, 1987 Screening of antimicrobial activity of plants popularly used in Guatemala for the treatment of dermatomucosal diseases. J Ethnopharmacol 20(3):223-237.

26 CAMBAR P, ALVARADO-GALVEZ C, ALGER J, RIVERA-VEGA O, 1984 Efectos broncopulmonares de algunas plantas medicinales de Honduras(conferencia). Unidad de Farmacología, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras UNAH, Tegucigalpa, Honduras. II semana científica de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras.

27 CAMBAR P, ALGER J, SANTOS A, 1983 Efectos farmacológicos de los extractos acuosos de las hojas de Llantén(Plantago major) (conferencia). Tegucigalpa, Honduras: XXVII Congreso médico de Honduras & I semana científica de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras, Revista Médica Hondureña.

28 LAMBEV I, MARKOV M, PAVLOVA N, 1981 Study of the antiinflammatory and capillary restorative activity of a dispersed substance fromPlantago major L. Probl Nutr Med 9(3):162-169.

29 CAMBAR P, ALVARADO-GALVEZ C, ALGER J, RIVERA-VEGA O, 1984 Efectos broncopulmonares de algunas plantas medicinales de Honduras.(conferencia). Unidad de Farmacología, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras UNAH, Tegucigalpa, Honduras. II semana científica de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras.

30 CAMBAR P, SANTOS A, COUSIN L, 1985 Efecto del extracto acuoso de Plantago major (Llantén) en el choque anafiláctico inducido por albúmina de huevo en el conejo. Memoria de la III Semana Científica de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras.

31 MIRONOV VA, VASIL'EV GS, MATROSOV VS, FILIPOVA TM, ZAMUREENKO VA,MISHCHENKO VV, MAIRANOVSKII VG, FEL'DSHTEIN MA,1983 Physiologically active alcohols from great plantain (Plantago major). Pharm Chem 17(11):794-798.

32 ANON, 1973 Traditional-western combined treatment of 217 cases of tetanus. Chung-hua I hsueh Tsa Chih Beijing53:682-684.

33 QUEIROZ I, REIS S, 1989 Antispasmodic and analgesic effects of some medicinal plants (conference). Rio, Brasil: Simpósio Brasil-China de Química e Farmacologia de Produtos Naturais, Abstr. Nº 180.

34 ROSA PINTO V, BARAHONA C, 1986 Estudio hipocrático de extractos acuosos de algunas plantas medicinales de uso tradicional en Honduras, sus efectos en ratas (Tesis de grado). Facultad de Química y Farmacia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

35 DUCKETT S, 1980 Plantain leaf for poison ivy. N Engl J Med 303(10):583.

36 WAGNER H, 1987 Immunostimulants from higher plants. In HOSTETTMANN K, LEA PJ, (Eds.). Biologically active natural products.Oxford, UK: Oxford Science Publications, p127-141.

37 BETANCOURT J, MARTINEZ MJ, LOPEZ M, MOREJON Z, BOUCOURT E, MORON F, 2000 Actividad genotóxica in vitro de partes aéreas de Plantago major L. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio Central de Farmacología, Facultad de Ciencias. Médicas “Dr. Salvador. Allende”, La Habana, Cuba.

38 BETANCOURT J, MARTINEZ MJ, LOPEZ M, MOREJON Z, BARCELO H, LAINEZ A, MONTES ME, REGO R, BOUCOURT E, MORON F, 2000 Toxicidad aguda clásica de partes aéreas de Plantago major L. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio Central de Farmacología, Facultad de Ciencias. Médicas “Dr. Salvador. Allende”, La Habana, Cuba.

39 GarcIa GM, Coto MT, GonzAlez CS, Pazos L, 1996 Toxicidad por vía oral en ratón, del extracto acuoso de hojas frescas de Plantago major. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio de Ensayos Biológicos LEBI, Universidad de Costa Rica, San Pedro, Costa Rica.

40 GarcIa GM, Coto MT, GonzAlez CS, Pazos L, 1996 Irritabilidad ocular en conejos, del extracto acuoso de hojas frescas de Plantago major. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio de Ensayos Biológicos LEBI, Universidad de Costa Rica, San Pedro, Costa Rica.

41 ARROYO J, RODRIGUEZ N, RODRIGUEZ M, 1963 Cytostatic agents of plant and synthetic origin. Anales Real Acad Farm 29(4):157-169.

42 ALBORNOZ A, 1993 Medicina tradicional herbaria. Caracas, Venezuela: Instituto Farmacoterápico Latino S.A. p273.

43 DELAIGUE J, 2005 TRAMIL survey. UAG & PRDI, Tobago House of Assembly, Scarborough, Tobago.

44 GUERRA MJ, LOPEZ M, BOUCOURT E, FUENTES V, 2002 Irritabilidad oftálmica de la decocción 30% de hojas secas de Plantago major L.Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio Central de Farmacología. Facultad de Medicina Dr. Salvador Allende. Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba.

45 LOGARTO PARRA A, SILVA YHEBRA R, GUERRA SARDINAS I, IGLESIAS BUELA L, 2001 Comparative study of the assay of Artemia salina L. and the estimate of the medium lethal dose (LD50 value) in mice, to determine oral acute toxicity of plant extracts. Phytomedicine 8(5):395-400.

46 LUCIANO-MONTALVO C, GAVILLAN-SUAREZ J, 2009 Actividades antimicrobianas de partes de plantas con usos significativos en encuestas etnofarmacológicas TRAMIL.Informe TRAMIL,Instituto de Investigaciones Interdisciplinarias, Cayey, Universidad de Puerto Rico.


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.