Plantain. Plantago major L. Rib Grass. Ribwort. Ripple Grass. Plantain, Fr. Wegerich, G. (Fam. Plantaginaceae).—The leaves are saline, bitterish, and acrid to the taste; the root is saline and sweetish. The common plantain weed was formerly considered refrigerant, diuretic, de-obstruent, and somewhat astringent. The ancients esteemed it highly, but it is at present never used, except externally in domestic practice as a stimulant application to sores. The leaves are applied whole or bruised in the form of a poultice. Plantago media L., or hoary plantain, and P. lanceolata L., or rib grass, which are also naturalized in America, possess properties similar to those of P. major, and may be used for the same purposes.
For results of examination of the leaves of P. major, see Kosenbaum (A. J. P., 1886, 418.) J. F. Strawinski found in the rhizome a substance which he believes to be either phlobaphene or protocatechuic acid. (A. J. P., 1898, 189.)
Bourdier (A. Pharm., ccxivi) has found in a number of species of plantago, including the P. major, a glucoside aucubin, which was isolated from the Aucuba japonica.
Semen psyllii is the name given to the seeds of several species of European Plantago. The best are those of Plantago Psyllium L., or fleawort, which grows in the south of Europe and in Northern Africa. They are ovoid, about 3 mm. in length, and 1 to 1.5 mm. in width, convex on one side, concave on the other, dark-brown and on flat side reddish-brown, shining, inodorous, and nearly tasteless, but mucilaginous when chewed. They are demulcent and emollient, and may be used internally and externally in the same manner as flaxseed, which they closely resemble in medicinal properties. Spogel seed, used in India as a demulcent in intestinal irritation, is derived from P. Isphagula Roxb., probably a variety of P. ovata Forsk. (See Journ. Med. de Paris, Sept., 1887.)
The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.