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
Topic Specific References:
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.
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