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Plantago major

Plantago major


Plantago lanceolata

Vernacular Name

Llanten Comun, Llanten Macho, Llanten de Hoja Ancha, Broadleaf Llantai, Common Llantai, Cuckoo's Bread, Englishman's Foot, Great Llantai, Greater Llantai, Ribwort Llantai, Ripple Grass, Snakeweed, Waybread, Waybroad.


Plantago major is an herbaceous perennial from the Plantaginaceae family.  The herb is characterised by its broad rosette of large leaves.  P. major can reach a height of measures 40cm at the tip of its flowering spikes, and a diametre of 30cm across the leaves.  The leaves of P. major grow directly from its taproot, leaving it stemless.  Each leaf is ovate, broad, and has distinguished veins.  The light-green to green leaf can grow up to measuring  20cm long and 9cm wide, and lay prostrate along the ground.  Between the months of August to October, stem-like flower stalks shoot up from the center of the rosette to a height of 40cm.  The stalk is covered densely in green, white or purple flowers to form a spike shape.  The flowers creep out of the calyx and are no more than 1cm across.  The seeds borne of the small flowers are tiny nutlets that have a number  of ten for twenty to each flower.  Each seed is no more than 2-3mm across.

Origin / Habitat

Though now naturalised throughout the world, P. major is thought to originate from Eurasia. This self-fertile plant is commonly thought of as a weed, growing on the sides on the road, in lawns and pastures.  P. major cannot grow in shade as it needs lots of sun and extremely moist soil, therefore thriving in warm, moist climates.

Chemical Constituents

2-6.5% mucilage; 6.5% tannins; iridoid glycosides including aucubin (0.3-2.5%) and catalpol (0.3-1.1%); the aglycone, aucubigenin; five phenylethanoids, including acteoside, cistanoside F, lavandulifolioside, plantamajoside and isoacteoside; > 1% silicic acid; phenolic carboxylic acids. P. major also contains flavonoids including apigenin and luteolin and minerals including zinc and potassium.

Plant Part Used

Leaf [3] and sometimes root.

Traditional Use

Traditional use of this plant involves various preparations of the leaf and with alternate species being used for identical purposes.  Topically, crushed leaves may be rubbed on rashes, insect bites and bee stings.  Other topical applications include wounds and bruises.  Juice from the leaves has also been used to treat eye discomfort.  Internally, various preparations have been used for bronchial disorders, inflammation, kidney disorders and digestive disorders.  Other region-specific uses include snake bite, hysteria and ulcers [1] [2].



In laboratory studies, P. major leaf extracts have been reported to reduce plasma lipid, cholesterol, beta-lipoprotein and triglyceride concentrations in rabbits with atherosclerosis [3]. In vitro studies support the cholesterol lowering activity by suppressing HMG-CoA reductase activity [4]. Leaf extracts have also been reported to increase uterine smooth muscle tone in guinea pigs and rabbits [3].Extracts were also reported in animal studies to inhibit effects of arachidonic acid-induced inflammation and edema [5]. Another animal study found that extracts from Plantago species also suppress inflammation and leukocyte infiltration normally associated with caraginan and prostaglandin E1 in laboratory studies [6].

P. major leaf juice and cold fluid or aqueous extracts also have reported wound healing and antibacterial activity, attributed to the constituent aucubigenin.

Extracts of P. major have been reported to have anti-tumor, immunomolatory and antiviral activity in laboratory studies [7] [8].Extracts possess significant antitumor activity on the proliferation of lymphona and carcinoma (bladder, bone, cervix, kidney, lung and stomach) cells and on viral infections (HSV-2 and ADV-11) in laboratory studies [9]. In vitro, P. major extracts have been reported to enhance immunity by increasing lymphocyte proliferation and secretion of interferon-gamma at low concentrations (<50mcg/ml), but inhibiting these effects at high concentrations (>50mcg/ml)  [10].P. major extract seems to be an activator both on the classical and the alternative pathway of activation of the immune system and contributing to its wound healing activity [11].


No documentation.

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.

Interaction with Drugs

No documentation.

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

P. major has been reported safe in recommended doses.

Discontinue if allergy occurs.


Laboratory studies have reported uterine stimulatory activity, so P. major should only be used under medical supervision during pregnancy [3].

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

No documentation.


  1. Roth I, Lindorf H. South American Medicinal Plants: Botany, Remedial Properties and General Use. Germany:Springer Publications;2002.360.
  2. Duke JA. Medicinal Plants of Latin America. New York: Taylor and Francis;2009.564.
  3. Shipochliev T. Uterotonic action of extracts from a group of medicinal plants. Vet Med Nauki.1981; 18(4): 94-98.
  4. Chung M, Park KW, Kin KH, et al. Asian plantain (Plantago asiatica) essential oils suppress 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glucarlyl-coenzyme A reductase expression n vitro and in vivo and show hypocolesterolemic properties in mice. J Nurt. 2008;99(1):67-75.
  5. Murai M, Tamayama Y, Nishibe S. 1995. Phenylethanoids in the herb of Plantago lanceolata and inhibitory effect on arachidonic acid-induced mouse ear edema. Planta Med. Oct1995; 61(5): 479-480.
  6. 6Shipochliev T, Dimitrov A, Aleksandrova E. 1981. Anti-inflammatory action of a group of plant extracts. Vet Med Nauki. 1981; 18(6): 87-94.
  7. Chiang LC, Ng LT, Chiang W, et al. Immunmodulatory activityes of flavonoids, monoterpenes, triterpenoids, iridoid glycosides and phenolic compounds of Plantago species. Planta Med. 2003;69(7):600-604.
  8. Velasco-Lezama R, Tapia-Aguillar R, Roman-Ramos R, et al. Effect of Plantago major on cell proliferatin in vitro. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006;103(1):36-42.
  9. Chiang LC, Chiang W, Chang MY, et al. In vitro cytotoxic antiviral and immunomodulatory effects of Plantago major and Plantago asiatica. Am J Chin Med. 2003;31(2):225-234.
  10. Ozaslan M, Didem Karagoz I, Kalender ME, et al. In vivo antitumoral effect of Plantago major L. extract on Balb/C mouse with Ehrlich ascities tumor. Am J Chin Med. 2007;35(5):841-851.
  11. Michaelsen TE, Gilje A, Samuelsen AB, et al. Interaction between human complement and a pectin type polysaccharide fraction, PMII, from the leaves of Plantago major L. Scan J Immunol. 2000;52(5):483-490.

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