Coltsfoot

Tussilaga farfara, Compositae. The dried flowers and the leaves are the part of the plant used.

The flowers should be gathered before they are fully bloomed in early spring and dried in the shade. The leaves are best collected in early summer. They should be chopped up before they are dried and stored.

Functions of coltsfoot

Coltsfoot combines an expectorant effect with an anti-spasmodic action. There are also useful levels of zinc in the leaves and this is useful for its anti-inflammatory effects. Coltsfoot:

  • may be used in chronic or acute bronchitis, irritating coughs, whooping cough and asthma. The expectorant effect makes it useful in any respiratory condition, including the chronic states of emphysema.
  • has a mild diuretic action which makes it useful in cystitis.
  • can be applied (in the form of fresh bruised leaves) onto boils, abscesses and suppurating ulcers.

Notes on coltsfoot

  • In the treatment of coughs it may be combined with white horehound and mullein.
  • The presence of pyrrolizidine alkaloids has raised worries about possible liver damage. However, there is no evidence that taking coltsfoot medicinally is harmful. Nevertheless avoid taking large amounts if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Dosages

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1-2 teaspoonsful of the dried herb and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. This should be drunk three times per day, as hot as possible.

Tincture: take 2-4 ml of the tincture three times per day.

For the gardener

Coltsfoot is a perennial plant that grows less that 1 foot (30 cm ) tall. It prefers damp soil in the full sun.

The seeds can be planted in the spring or it can be propagated by root division in the autumn. The mature plants need to be about 6-8 inches (15-19 cm) apart.

References

Hoffmann, D. 2000, The New Holistic Herbal. Element Pub.

Marcin, M. M. 1990, Herbal Teas: Growing Harvesting and Brewing. Collins.

Shaw, N. 2002, Herbalism. Element

Tyler, Y. E. 1993, The Honest Herbal: A Sensible Guide to the Use of Herbs and Related Remedies. Haworth.

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