Plantain Seed, 車前子 ,Chē qián zĭ, Reveal Date 5/16

Article published at: May 12, 2024 Article author: Lily Michaud
Plantago asiatica, by Ishizaki Yushi, c 1823-29 wikicommons
All Brown Bear Herbs Herbalism & Tactics for Thriving Together Article comments count: 0

This week we meditated on Plantain seed, 車前子, Chē qián zĭ, Plantago asiatica.


Plantain seed, Chē qián zĭ, areas for further experimentation: plantain has often been seen as a "cure-all". I consider herbs like this to have an affinity beyond the physical. Is it in the realm of crime solving (who was responsible for this tummy ache or heart break?) or crime absolving (by perspective greater than convention)?


This seed had a distinctive, but for me, hard to pin down taste. I got tastes from "it's sweet bro" to peppery to soapy. I feel like there are some volatile oils in it that are not very familiar to me. Regardless of which direction it went in, it was mild to moderate flavor to me.

Plantain asiatica illustration by Ishizaki Yushi, c 1823-29

I have a special love for botanical illustrations of plantain. It is a simple, weedy plant yet not unpleasantly so (in my opinion). I love seeing how elegant it looks when treated with care by the artist. Good luck making dandelion look this good. Notice that on the leaves, rather than veins and a midrib, this plant has ribs that run along side each other.

Meditation 1:

My daughter: I saw a persimmon, mango, pickle and quesadilla, all pinned to a cork board with red string—like an investigation board.

Plantain Seed, Che Qian Zi, Brown Bear Herbs' Plant Meditation Club, Crime Board

Me: I see my arms are plantain leaves (my favorite, thin variety, Plantago lanceolata). They curl out to my daughter next to me and to other people I think about. They curl out with my consciousness. The plant explains this is enmeshment. My daughter has hiccoughs--it is hard to meditate. I pull my senses in to deal with both the distraction and the outcurling of my energy. I see my head energy shaped like a triangle going into the base. My head is very heavy. It is nearly black, dark brown, like the seeds we made tea from. My head is sinking, leaning back heavily, pressing hard from the weight into the back of the sofa. I pull the energy of my mind interior, into my base. I see small white roots—like an inverse crown.

Plantain Seed Meditation, Che qian zi, Drawing of experience of heaviness
Meditation 2: 

Me: Aha moment: This plant is good for getting to the root, for investigation. All lines on my plantain arms go straight to the root—there no branches or middle pathways to navigate. I see a man corrupting his daughter by showing her explicit pornography, he is training her to think of this as normal. This is corruption. There are many things perceived as corruption. There is gross corruption like this example. What is corrupt to one person may not be to another. For example two men falling in love may be seen as a corruption of desire and the flesh to some, but to others and themselves it could be a love that saves them from a life of misery and hurts no one. Some see any deviance from societal rules as corruption. An act that goes clearly goes against a positive societal norm may indeed be a net positive. One may see themselves as corrupt--because there are aspects of their choice that are potentially or realistically problematic, but from a broader perspective their motivations and outcomes are more important or beneficial than their problematic deviance. 

The plant says “when we connect at the base level—such as by giving birth or being with a lover—we can easily become enmeshed, and our actions come out of our base/the root (chakra 1) area of our body.

What is our base? 

We build tiny roots around the base—the plant asks “what is the purpose?”. I am very conscious of these little roots. The base is the nexus.

If we stay at our center/base, it/the nourishment (implying also the people we want to be close to) will fall into us. “That is how I am built," says plantain. Stay at the base and what we need will fall into us.

My daughter: I hear a song about someone being cheated on. It was a mystery who cheated on whom. This mystery is akin to "who did the murder?" and which food was responsible on the pickle-mango-persimmon-quesadilla crime board. These are all examples of doing an investigation and getting to the root of the matter.

Summary and traditional use: 

I cannot say how much I love this plant! I have a fondness for it as a Western herb. I use it as "gardener's bandaid for owies in the garden including stings. I chew it and apply it to stings. it works wonderfully even when the body is having an extreme reaction to the sting. The seed of the Chinese varietal has been observed to have many benefits for the physical body. It works through the Lung, Bladder, Liver, and Bladder channels. It can resolve various issues with mismanagement of fluids, including any type of edema, urinary dribbling, and diarrhea. It also improves liver heat stemming from yin deficiency. My experience of the dark brown/black heavy head felt very yin nourishing. The seed is used as part of the treatment plan in obesity. Studies in mice show it is helpful for metabolizing fats/lipids. 

The part that got me was all the imagery and awareness of releasing us from our "prisons". My experience of healing many chronic health conditions (including emotional dis-ease) is they often stem from patterns or past reactions that imprison us. For this plant to have an affinity towards opening those chains could indeed give someone the impression they are a cure-all. What is the root of the problem? The acid of a pickle? A moral quandary? 

The way the plant is structured shows what is can teach us. The leaf structure enables quick passage of the photosynthate to the roots. The plant often forms many small, white, adventitious roots, that are helpful for holding topsoil together. 


I would love to hear your experiences. Join us for Plant Meditation Club through the button below. Share your research and/or personal or clinical experiences in the comments. 



Leave a comment