Plantago depressa

Plantago depressa


No documentation

Vernacular Name

Asian plantain, depressed plantain 


Another member of the plantain family, Plantago asiatica or Chinese plantain, is often inadvertently called  Plantago depressa, which is an incorrect identification.  The traditional use indicates that all parts of the plant are used including the root, which when steeped in boiling water produces a gel-like substance that has a history of use as a laxative.  In most areas P. asiatica is considered to be a weed.

This species has a generous taproot system.  It has erect lanceolate leaves that can grow up to 10cm in length taper to a short thin stalk.  It produces small, widely spaced white flowers. 

Origin / Habitat

P. depressa is thought to be native to Tibet, but is found from Siberia, through Mongolia, China and Japan.  P. depressa grows throughout Japan in wooded areas and wasteland areas.  It requires some direct sunlight and requires moist, but well drained soil and is commonly found along roadsides and in farming areas. 

Chemical Constituents

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.[1]

Plant Part Used


Medicinal Uses



Most Frequently Reported Uses



Dosage range 

As an infusion: Steep 2 teaspoonfuls of dried, ground leaf in 150ml (one cupful) of hot water, 3-4 times a day.

Most Common Dosage

No documentation

Standardized to

No standardization known



Species of Plantago have similar constituents and traditional uses; therefore, pharmacology for Plantago depressa will be based partly upon the reported pharmacology of greater plantain (Plantago major, Plantago lanceolata). Specifically, P. depressa is used in Chinese Medicine as a diuretic, and for its anti-asthmatic and antiinflammatory properties.

A laboratory study found that an extract of P. 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 P. 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 P. 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.[2]

In laboratory studies, plantain (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] P. major leaf extracts have also been reported to increase uterine smooth muscle tone in guinea pigs and rabbits.[5] Extracts were also reported in animal studies to inhibit effects of arachidonic acid-induced inflammation and edema.[6] 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.[7]

Plantain 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.[8],[9] xtracts 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, P. major extracts have been reported to enhance immunity by increasing lymphocyte proliferation and secretion of interferon-gamma at low concentrations (50mcg/ml).[11] P. 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

There are no known or theoretical drug interactions with the use of plantain leaf extract.

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

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

Species of Plantain have been reported safe in recommended doses. 


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

Age limitation

No documentation

Adverse reaction

No documentation


  1. Kletter C, Kriechbaum M, Ed’s. Tibetan Medicinal Plants. London:Taylor & Francis, Inc; 2001.299.
  2. Wu FH, Liang JY, Yu P, Cai SF. [Studies on the hypoglycemia and lipids regulating effects of Plantago depressa var. montata]. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2005;30(15):1179-1183.
  3. Shipochliev T. 1981. 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. Shipochliev T. Uterotonic action of extracts from a group of medicinal plants. Vet Med N auki. 1981;18(4):94-98
  6. 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.
  7. Shipochliev T, Dimitrov A, Aleksandrova E. 1981. Anti-inflammatory action of a group of plant extracts. Vet Med Nauki. 1981; 18(6): 87-94.
  8. Chaing 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.