Plantain, Che Qian Cao, 車前草, Plantago asiatica

Disclaimer    For educational purposes only.  Do not use as medical advice

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Health Benefits
For: Urinary Track Infection • Poor urination • Diarrhea • Cough • Edema • Ear infection • Insect bites • Ulcerative colitis • Liver inflammation • IBS • Chronic constipation • Wounds • Weak immunity • Diabetes • Cholesterol
Attributes: Antimicrobial • Allantoin • Mucilage • Astrigent • Antibiotic • Antibacterial • Antiviral • Diuretic • Immunomodulatory • Antitussive • Anticancer • Antiasthmatic • Anticholesterol • Antidiabetes
Products (online examples)

Dried Leaves



Tea Bags

Insect Bite Ointment



Ear Drops

Research (sample)
Planteolic acid • Mucilage • Phenolic acids • Favonoids • Coumarins • Resins • Beta Sitosterol • Cholesterol • Palmitate • Stigmasterol • n-hentriacontan • Iridoid glycosides • Plantainosides • Acteoside • Maplantamajoside • Leucosceptoside A • Isomartynoside • Succinic acid • Ursolic acid

Photos (Click to enlarge)
Fun Facts
Other Names: Plantain • Ripple grass • Rib wort • Rib grass • Plantain • Shazenshi • Chajeonja
Plant Family: Plantaginaceae
There are over 200 Plantago species.  Plantago ovata and its seed (psyllium) are produced commercially in Spain, France, Iran and India.  Indian dominates the world market in the production and export of psyllium.   Psyllium husk is the main ingredient in fiber supplement, Metamucil.1   Plantago Asiatica is commonly used in China to treat urinary track infections, coughs, and wound healing.  Plantain is listed in the following pharmacopeias: German Commission E 1992 • ESCOP 2014

Plantago Asiatica - Chinese plantain - used in Chinese medicine

Plantago Depressa -Used in Chinese medicine

Plantago Major - Common Plantain

Plantago Japonica - Japanese plantain

Plantago Lanceolata

Plantago Jeholesis

Plantago Lanceolata - narrow leaf plantain

Plantago Hostifolia

Planto Ovata

Plantago asiatica is in the USDA Plant Database.  Drill down via USDA Interactive Map:

USA: Plantago asiatica has been introduced to multiple states.  USDA Zones: 3-12

Native: Europe, North and central Asia

Habitats: Garden weed, in between rocks, lawns, compact soil

I grow plantago asiatica easily in my backyard.  They propagate like weeds and will grow best in between cracks of rocks.  The seeds dropped in the fall will sprout in the spring.  They do require frequent watering and does pretty well in shaded areas.  The Texas summer heat will slow its growth and even killing it.  But enough seeds would have already been produced to ensure a plentiful crop the next Spring.  Cooking: I use the entire plant in stew.   I cut off the root just because it's easier to clean.  The roots are edible and can be cooked with the leaves, flower, and seeds.  It must be boiled for at least 20 minutes to be tender enough to chew.  It is very fibrous.  I often use it as an antibiotic to treat coughs, ear infections, or just the common cold.  It tastes like a cross between kale and spinach. 

Properties, Actions, Indications, etc.              Category: Drain Dampness 
English: Plantain    Pinyin:  Che Qian Cao      Pharmaceutical: Plantago Asiatica  
Organs: Kidney • Small Intestine • Liver • Lung ♦ Seeds also enters the Urinary Bladder      Temperature: Cold 
Taste: Sweet        Toxicity:
Patterns: Damp heat • Damp summerheat • Poor urination • Lung heat • Cough • Liver or Kidney deficiency eye problems • Edema 
Actions:  Promote urination • drain damp heat • Clear mucus • Clear eyes • Stop cough • Clear lung heat
Indications: Poor urination • Infections • Diarrhea • Cough • Edema
Contraindications: Caution when administering to children because of its diuretic effects • Blood thinner drugs
Typical Dosage: Seeds: 6g -15g • Whole plant: 10g -30 g • Small dosages can raise blood pressure and large dosages can lower blood pressure          Guidelines
Parts Used: Whole plant • Leaves • Seed          Substitutes: Related plantago species  
Che Qian Zi Combine With  Purpose
Ze Xie + Fu ling + Bai Zhu Edema [17],[21], Diarrhrea with dysuria [18]
Niu Xi Kidney deficiency edema [21]
Shan Yao + Huang Bai  Damp heat spleen deficiency - chronic vaginal discharge[21]
Hai Jin Sha + Zhi Zi Urinary track infection, stones from heat in lower burner [21]
Mo Han Lian Poor urination from blood heat or yin deficiency [21]
Mu Tong + Hua Shi+Zhi Zi +Bian Xu Frequent, incontinent, and painful urination; Strangury; Lin Syndrome [17],[18],[21]
Bai Mao Gen Edema in feet and legs from water retention and dampness[21]
Xiang Ru + Huo Xiang Summer heat diarrhea with dampness [18],[21]
Huang Lian + Jue Ming Zi + Man Jing Zi + Sang Ye + Mi Meng Hua + Ju Hua Red, puffy, and painful eyes [18]
Huang Qin + Long Dan Cao + Ju Hua  Puffy, red eyes from liver channel heat [21]
Bai Bu + Zhi Ban Xia + Chen Pi Chronic cough with mucus [21]
Yin Chen Hao + Da Huang Damp heat jaundice[17]
30g Che Qian Zi + sugar Infantile diarrhea [18]
Shu Di Huang + Tu Si Zi Cataract poor visual acuity from liver or kidney deficiency [21]
Shu Di Huang + Tu Si Zi + Shi Hu + Gou Qi Zi Dizziness and blurred vision from liver or kidney deficiency [18]
Mai Men Dong + Nan Sha Shen Cough from yin deficiency [18]
Huang Qin + Xing Ren + Sang Bai Pi Cough with yellow mucus [17]
Huang Qin + Yu Xing Cao + Bei Mu Cough with thick and yellow mucus due to lung heat[18],[21]
Bi Ba + Chan Tui Whooping cough [17]
Formulas with Che Qian Cao
Ba Zheng San • Long Dan Xie Gan Tang • Wan Dai Tang • Yi Huang Tang • Zhu Jing Wan
Variations for Che Qian Cao

Che Qian Cao - Entire plant has the basic functions as the seeds.  It is less efective at promoting urination as with just the seeds.  It is better at reducing toxicity and clearing heat.  Used for treating bug bites, abscesses, urinary track infections.  Fresh is better than dried.  9g to 30g dosage

Chao Che Qian Zi - Fried seeds - Stir fried  to make the seed warmer and better at draining water and dampness.  Used for spleen deficiency diarrhea and vaginal secretion.  

Yan Zhi Che Qian Zi - Salted Plantago Seeds - Stir fried seeds with salt water.  Increase effectivenes for promoting urinationand treating dampness from Spleen and Kidney yang deficiency.

Sheng Che Qian Zi - Raw seeds - Better at sending heat and dampness downward and promote urination.

Be cautious with all medicine.
  • This herb contains courmarin and may interact with blood thinners/ anticoagulant drugs
  • This herb is a diuretic and may interact with other diuretic medication with additive effects
  • Use with caution on children since diuretic effect may be harmful as children typically urinates more than adults [21]
  • Che Qian Zi may reduce the absorption of medication like lithium[18]
  • Che Qian Zi also reduces the absorption of carbohydrates, and thereby lowering blood sugar [18]
Potential Drug Interactions

Herbal medicine may interact negatively with pharma drugs and other herbs.  Examples below:

Herbs: ♦Anticoagulants: American Ginseng, Arnica, Rou Gui, Chamomile, Dan Shen, Dang Gui, Deertongue, Sheng Jiang, Goji Berry, Ginko Nutes, Notoginseng, Peach Kernel, Hong Hua, Sweet Clover, Vanilla Grass, Plantago ♦ Diuretic: Heal All, Bai Zhu, Huang Qi, Da Fu Pi, Ma huang, Du Zhong, Plantago

Pharma Drugs:♦Anticoagulants: asprin , clopidogrel (Plavix) , Coumadin , dipyridamole , enoxaparin , Heparin ♦ Diuretic: Acetazolamide, Aldactone, Amiloride Hydrochloride, Bumex, Diuril, Diulo, Demadex, Dyrenium, Edecrin, Enduron, Hydrodiuril, Hygroton, Lasix, Lozol, Methazolamide, Mykrox, Zaroxolyn


Information in this post came from many sources, including class notes, practitioners, websites, webinars, books, magazines, and editor's personal experience.  While the original source often came from historical Chinese texts,  variations may result from the numerous English translations.   Always consult a doctor prior to using these drugs.  The information here is strictly for educational purposes. 

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