Scientific: Tussilago farfara [WikiPedia]
Composition: Contains flavonoids and polysaccharides
Appearance: Coltsfoot grows wild over much of Europe. The name is derived from the horseshoe shaped leaves. It was so popular in Europe at one time that French pharmacists painted its flowers on their doorposts. It was brought to the American colonies from Europe. Before the plant flowers, it resembles butterbur enough that old herbals caution against confusing the two.
Parts Used: Leaves, and sometimes the buds and flowers.
Common Uses: Coltsfoot has a number of applications in herbal medicine, with the leaves used in Austria as part of a tea. There are some toxicity concerns, however, with the presence of tumorigenic pyrrolizidine alkaloids providing a few reasons to exercise caution. There are documented cases of coltsfoot leaf benefits producing severe liver problems in infants. There are some risks associated with using coltsfoot for dogs. The documented cases of liver damage can be rather startling, but they should be taken into account before you make any decisions. Coltsfoot was banned in Germany after known cases of harm to infants, although a clone version of the herb free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids was eventually developed. Coltsfoot’s main application is in its treatment of wet cough. It should not be used for kennel cough, which is a dry cough. Coltsfoot does help break down mucus in the bronchi and can be beneficial for some respiratory conditions, but the associated side effects may be enough to deter usage for some. Use coltsfoot with caution.
Alternatives and Adjuncts: Coughs combine with mullein, horehound, licorice or elecampane. Bacterial or fungal, combine with echinacea, Oregon grape, bee balm or thyme.
Topic Specific References:
- Health Benefits of Coltsfoot Leaf (YourOldDog)
- Neuroprotective and antioxidant effects of the ethyl acetate fraction prepared from Tussilago farfara L. [PubMED]
- Modification of the Myelotoxic and Antitumor Effects of Polychemotherapy by Polysaccharides from Tussilago farfara L. [PubMED]
- Biologically active compounds from two members of the Asteraceae family: Tragopogon dubius Scop. and Tussilago farfara L. [PubMED]
PLEASE NOTE that herbal and other natural products can harm your animals – not all plants are safe and gentle! Do not attempt using any of the ingredients listed, or any other plant matter, without the guidance of a qualified herbalist.