Che Qian Cao

Herba Plantaginis; Plantago major; Plantago depressa

Chemical Constituents

Whole plant includes plantagin, aucubin, ursolic acid, beta-sitosterol, and plantaglucide.Phenylethanoid glycosides, including cistanoside F, beta-hydroxyacteoside, campenoside I, acteoside and orobanchoside, and beta-oxoacteoside; ursolic acid   Flavonoids include apigenin, baicalein, scutellarein. Alkaloids include boschniakine along with amino acids (eg, alanine, asparagine, histidine, lysine), Polysaccharides include rhamnose, L-arabinose, mannose, galactose and dextrose. The seeds also contain fixed oil, protein, iridoids and tannins.


As an infusion: Steep 2 teaspoonfuls of dried, ground leaf in 150ml (one cupful) of hot water, 3-4 times a day. Total daily intake is between 9 and 30 grams. [1]



Herba Plantagiis is considered sweet and cold. It promotes removal of heat, and resolves toxicity. Topically it is used to treat abcesses. [2] It is used as an antiparasitic, an hepatoprotective and as an anti-microbial to treat urinary tract infections. [1] 


Blood sugar regulation activity: 

A laboratory study found that an extract of Plantago depressa reduced fasting serum glucose (FSG) in diabetic mice after oral administration. The damage of pancreatic islet induced by alloxan was also significantly decreased by the administration of the Plantago depressa extract. The extract acted as an antioxidant, increasing serum oxide dismutase (SOD) and decreasing a marker of oxidative stress, malondialdehyde (MDA). The authors concluded that Plantago depressa extracts may decrease hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia based on its ability to decrease oxidative stress. The extract also seems to improve damaged pancreatic islet cells induced by oxidative stress, thereby helping improve the symptoms of diabetes. [5] 

Antihypercholesterol activity: 

In laboratory studies, plantain (Plantago major) leaf extracts have been reported to reduce plasma lipid, cholesterol, beta-lipoprotein and triglyceride concentrations in rabbits with atherosclerosis. In vitro studies support the cholesterol lowering activity by suppressing HMG-CoA reductase activity. [3] 

Smooth muscle activity:

Plantago major leaf extracts have also been reported to increase uterine smooth muscle tone in guinea pigs and rabbits. [3] 

Anti-inflammatory activity

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] Extracts were also reported in animal studies to inhibit effects of arachidonic acid-induced inflammation and edema. [7] 

Anti-bacterial activity 

Plantain leaf juice and cold fluid or aqueous extracts also have reported wound healing and antibacterial activity, attributed to the constituent aucubigenin. [10] 

Immunomodulatory activity: 

Extracts of Plantago major have been reported to have anti-tumor, immunomolatory and antiviral activity in laboratory studies. [8][9] 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. [10] In vitro, Plantago 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). [11] Plantago major extracts have been reported 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. [12]


No documentation

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

Since plantain (Plantago major) has been reported to be a HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor, the use of CoQ10 supplementation may be warranted. [4]

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

Do discontinue if allergy occurs.


Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women. Laboratory studies have reported uterine stimulatory activity in Plantago major, so plantain should only be used under medical supervision during pregnancy. [3] 

Age limitation

No documentation

Adverse reaction

The herb is generally considered safe when used as directed. Report of allergic reactions has been reported. [2]


  1. Z. You-Ping. Chinese Matria Medica: Chemistry, Pharmacology and Applications. Florida: CRC Press;322-325.
  2. D. Bensky, S. Clavey, E. Stoger, A. Gamble. Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica, 3rd Edition. Seattle WA:Eastland Press; 2004.280.
  3. T. Shipochliev. Uterotonic action of extracts from a group of medicinal plants. Vet Med N auki. 1981;18(4):94-98.
  4. M. Chung, K.W. Park, K.H. Kin. 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. F.H.Wu, J.Y. Liang, P. Yu, S.F. Cai. Studies on the hypoglycemia and lipids regulating effects of Plantago depressa var. montata. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2005;30(15):1179-1183.
  6. T. Shipochliev, A. Dimitrov, E. Aleksandrova. Anti-inflammatory action of a group of plant extracts. Vet Med Nauki. 1981; 18(6): 87-94.
  7. M. Murai, Y. Tamayama, S. Nishibe. Phenylethanoids in the herb of Plantago lanceolata and inhibitory effect on arachidonic acid-induced mouse ear edema. Planta Med. Oct1995; 61(5): 479-480.
  8. L.C. Chiang, L.T. Ng, W. Chiang. Immunmodulatory activityes of flavonoids, monoterpenes, triterpenoids, iridoid glycosides and phenolic compounds of Plantago species. Planta Med. 2003;69(7):600-604.
  9. R. Velasco-Lezama, R. Tapia-Aguillar, R. Roman-Ramos. Effect of Plantago major on cell proliferatin in vitro. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006;103(1):36-42.
  10. L.C. Chiang, W. Chiang, M.Y. Chang. In vitro cytotoxic antiviral and immunomodulatory effects of Plantago major and Plantago asiatica. Am J Chin Med. 2003;31(2):225-234.
  11. M. Ozaslan, I.K. Didem, M.E. Kalender. 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.
  12. T.E. Michaelsen, A. Gilje, A.B. Samuelsen. 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.