Llantén (Plantago major) has many names in Mexico including llantén mayor, llantén de hoja ancha, lengua de carnero, orejas de burro, lengua de vaca, lantén, paletarea, plantén, anten, antena, chile de pato, and mucilago. Several sources also claimed that in Nahuatl this plant was known as acaxīlotl. However, this name actually refers to the root of the tolpatlacti, which is a reed and not the broadleaf plantain. The confusion I believe began from a description of acaxīlotl by Francisco Hernández de Toledo who stated that the leaves of the plant that the edible root is from are similar to llantén (plantain) but larger.
Llantén grows wild in La Yacata and I had no idea it had any medicinal application until I started researching it. Traditionally, llantén is applied externally for headaches, wounds, burns, insect bites, cold sores, and eye inflammation. Boiled fresh leaves are applied as a healing poultice for wounds. Leaves added to rosewater (Rosa gallica) infusion make a cooling wash for irritated eyes. Leaves applied directly to the cold sore reduce inflammation. Fresh llantén and geranio (Pelargonium spp.) leaves are mashed, salted, and bound to the head to treat headaches. Plantago major has hematopoietic activity, is inhibitory against hyaluronidase and collagenase enzymes, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcerative, anti-bacterial, and anti-nociceptive, making it appropriate for wound healing application.
The leaves are made into a diuretic tea, gargle for sore throat and mouth sores, and as a wash for vaginal irritation. Simmer ½ cup of leaves in two cups of water for this infusion. As a diuretic, drink a cup of tea made from two to four grams of dried leaves, three times a day. It has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties as well as demonstrated effectiveness in the management of oral mucositis and a relaxant effect on the tracheal smooth muscles of the throat. Additionally, llantén is antigiardiasic and protects against kidney damage.
Note: Llantén should not be used by individuals with heart conditions, those taking blood-thinning medication, or women who are pregnant or lactating.
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