Plantago/plantain leaf is more valuable for many purposes than the seed husk. Achtung! This is the vilified plantain weed which like dandelion grows in gardens, waste areas and lawns around the world, not the banana analogue growing in tropical climates.
This investigation shows that the P. major and C.
tetragonoloba contained important biologically active
compounds and P. major leaves had the highest total
phenol, flavonoid and tannin content. In addition, ethanol,
cold and hot extracts of the same plants showed
antioxidant activity, but the highest antioxidant activity
was found in ethanolic extract of P. major leaves .Also,
ethanolic extract of P. major leaves had the greatest
effect on tumor cell growth followed by hot water extract
of P. major leaves.
This website generated from three French high school students’ science project gives a good view of the medicinal “virtues” of plantain starting from its value to treat nettles sting. Here for the reductionist-minded a table of constituents and their properties:
Psyllium husk, the mucilaginous outer husk of a particular species of Plantago, is the most documented by scientific research for health effects and has been sold as a commercial product for many years under the brand name Metamucil in North America. Except for the capsules, the commercial products including the lower priced generic versions (Walmart Equate Fiber Therapy) are mixed with sugar, artificial sweeteners, and/or flavors. They are marketed to treat constipation, although psyllium has a normalizing effect rather than only laxative like some products not discussed here for that reason such as senna. $6 a pound is a reasonable price for psyllium husk from an herb store or an animal feed store. Compared to other specific dietary fiber sources psyllium is the most effect for the price (except where the fiber benefit comes collateral to a food source such as oats, barley, brown rice, cabbage…)
In herbal medicine these foods or supplements would also be classified as mucilage, demulcents, etc.
Herb suppliers like Mountain Rose Herb and San Francisco Tea and Spice sell many of these; price estimate per pound is given in parentheses.
Kudzu root, also know as the vine that ate Georgia. You think it should be cheap because so many people in the South would be happy to get rid of it.
Marshmallow root. Yes, there are real marshmallows; the roots were eaten similar to carrots or parsnips in ancient Roman times and the boiled-down thickened mucilage was mixed with honey and whipped up to make a medicine for sore throat and digestive problems.
Slippery elm bark
The following two foods also have good nutritional value as sources of protein and the omega 3 fat, alpha linolenic acid.
Flax/linseed has been studied for specific phytochemical or phytoestrogen effects. There is a small amount of cyanide in flax but has been shown to be harmless for normal consumption of cooked and raw seed. Flax must be ground to get the full nutritional benefit of the food. One or two tablespoons can be easily processed in a home electric coffee grinder. Larger amounts are a problem because the high oil content makes the meal stick to surfaces and gum up the grinder. I sometimes got around that by mixing in the grinder with a less gummy grain.
Chia does not have the bitter almond cyanide taste of flax