- Botanical: Tussilago farfara
- Family: Asteraceae
- Hits: 1995
Known asHuflattich, Coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara, Horsehoof, Coughwort, Fieldhove, Bullsfoot, Cleats, Clayweed, Tusilago
Old Useculinary; medicinal
Collection TimesFebruary to April
Parts Usedflowers, leaves
Medicinalabscess, acne, anxiety, asthma, bronchitis, boils, bronchitis, colds, coughs, diarrhea, digestion, eczema, eye inflammation, fever, gastrointestinal, laxative, infections intestinal, insect bites, neuralgia, wounds
Infection & Inflammationfever, flu, infections, skin inflammation
Respiratory Systemasthma, bronchitis, colds, cough, difficulty breathing, emphysema, lung weakness, pharyngitis, respiratory
Stomach & Intestinalulcers
Skin & Hairabscess, dermatitis, eczema
Propertiesantibacterial, antiseptic, anti inflammatory, astringent, diaphoretic, expectorant, stimulant, tonic
Coltsfoot is a perennial herbaceous plant that spreads by seeds and rhizomes. Tussilago is often found in colonies of dozens of plants. The flowers, which superficially resemble dandelions, appear in early spring before dandelions appear. The leaves, which resemble a colt's foot in cross section, do not appear usually until after the seeds are set. Thus, the flowers appear on stems with no apparent leaves, and the later appearing leaves then wither and die during the season without seeming to set flowers. The plant is typically 10–30 cm in height.
Properties & Uses
An effective demulcent and expectorant herb, coltsfoot is one of the most popular European remedies for the treatment of a wide range of chest complaints. It is widely available in health food shops. The leaves are commonly used in Europe, though the flowering stems (which contain higher levels of pyrrolizidine alkaloids) are preferred in China. They are rich in mucilage and are the main parts used, though the root is also sometimes employed. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids have a toxic effect upon the liver, but are largely destroyed when the plant is boiled to make a decoction. Some caution should be employed in the use of this remedy - the flowers should not be used except under professional supervision, the leaves should not be used for more than 4 - 6 weeks at a time, the herb should not be taken whilst pregnant or breast-feeding and it should not be given to children under the age of six. Modern research has shown that extracts of the whole plant can increase immune resistance. In a Chinese trial 75% of patients suffering from bronchial asthma showed some improvement after treatment with this plant, though the anti-asthmatic effect was short-lived. The leaves are harvested in June and early July, the flowers are harvested when fully open and the root is harvested in the autumn. All can be dried and used as required. The plant is antitussive, astringent, demulcent, emollient, expectorant, stimulant and tonic. It is widely used in the treatment of coughs and respiratory problems and is often candied so that it can be sucked as a sweet. The plant is of particular use in the treatment of chronic emphysema and silicosis, helping to relieve the persistent cough associated with these conditions. Coltsfoot is particularly effective when used in combination with liquorice (Glycyrrhiza species), thyme (Thymus vulgaris) and wild cherry (Prunus serotina). A poultice of the flowers has a soothing effect on a range of skin disorders including eczema, ulcers, sores, bites and inflammations. A bitter, tonic and diaphoretic preparation can be obtained from the root.
The soft down on the underside of the leaves is used as a stuffing material. When wrapped in a rag, dipped in saltpetre and dried in the sun it makes an excellent tinder. Plants have an extensive root system and are used to stabilize banks. The leaves are a valuable addition to the compost heap
The plant contains traces of liver-affecting pyrrolizidine alkaloids and is potentially toxic in large doses. These alkaloids have not proved toxic at low dosages in tests and there is no suggestion that this plant should not be used medicinally. Contraindicated during pregnancy and lactation.
Europe, including Britain, from Norway south and east to N. Africa, western and northern Asia.
Mucus, essential oils, bitter substances, tannin, tannic acid, hyperinflation, insulin, minerals, PAs, nitric, saponins, tannins, taraxasterol, violaxanthin, zinc