Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata)

Ribwort, also known as Slánlus both here and in Scotland means "a plant of healing". This valuable herb is found growing along roadsides and on waste ground. Sadly in recent years it is becoming scarce on Dublin roadsides and parks due to spraying with weedkillers. It has a long "ribbed" leaves and stem with a dark brown head on top growing to a height of 18 inches. Children often refer to Ribwort as "Soldiers". In Dublin they played a game in which they knocked the top off each other's Ribwort. It was also called Lus na Saighdúir in Irish, either because of this or its ability to heal wounds. In Co. Longford, children used to play a game with it called 'Fighting Cocks'.

Taken as an infusion, Ribwort is noted for its soothing effects for all kinds of coughs, bronchial and lung infections, asthma, hay fever, urinary and stomach infections, diarrhoea etc.

In the Aran Islands, Ribwort was often used for whitlows by washing and soaking the leaves in hot water and wrapping it around the affected finger to act as a poultice. Also in Co Kerry and Offaly the leaves were crushed or chewed to extract the juices and placed over wounds, sores or skin ulcers.

Ribwort can also be used as an ingredient to make a soothing salve. This has good drawing properties for treating sores. It was once considered as effective as Comfrey. In County Mayo it was used for stings and was considered superior to the traditional Dock leaf.

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