The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

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Coltsfoot

Scientific Names

Coltsfoot

  • Tussilago farfara L.
  • Compositae
  • Composite family

Common Names

  • British tobacco
  • Bullsfoot
  • Butterbur
  • Coughwort
  • Flower velure
  • Foal’s foot
  • Ginger root
  • Horse-foot
  • Horsehoof
  • K’uan-tung (Chinese name)

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Parts Usually Used

Berries, flowers, root and leaves
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Coltsfoot

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Coltsfoot is a perennial plant 4-8 inches high; the creeping rootstock sends up first the downy white scaly flower stems topped by large, bright, yellow, daisy-like flowers with many slender rays on a reddish-scaled stalk, then, after the flowers wilt, the cordate, dentate (heart-shaped) leaves appear from whose shape the plant gets its name. The leaves stand on long footstalks and are glabrous above and downy white beneath. March-April.
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Where Found

Found in the United States, Europe, Siberia, and the East Indies in wet areas such as streambanks, in pastures, hedges, waste land, and on ridges or embankments, preferring loamy and limestone soils. Nova Scotia to New Jersey; Ohio to Minnesota.
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Medicinal Properties

Astringent, demulcent, emollient, expectorant, antitussive, anti-inflammatory, pectoral, diaphoretic, tonic
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Biochemical Information

Caoutchouc, volatile oils, pectin, resin, and tannins

Flowers contain mucin, two flavonoids (rutin and arnidiol) and faradio, essential oil. Leaves contain mucin, abundant tannin, sitosterol, saltpeter, inulin, a glycosidal bitter principle.
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Legends, Myths and Stories

Coltsfoot is a curious herb which seems to grow in 2 distinct stages. Very early in the growing season, the plant develops flat orange flower heads. Only after the flowers have withered do the broad, hoof-shaped, sea-green leaves develop. This habit of growth earned coltsfoot its old name of Filius ante patrem (the son before the father).

Smoking coltsfoot for coughs and asthma was recommended by Dioscorides, the Greek physician. The Latin name of the plant means “cough dispeller” and even today, herbal cigarettes often contain coltsfoot.

In China, only the flowers, known as kuan dong hua, are used.

Mat I Matcheha, mother and step mother, is Russia’s name for coltsfoot.

Coltsfoot is said to “madden young stallions and fleeted mares”.

Coltsfoot herb is a main ingredient in British herbal smoke mixtures, generally consisting of Buckbean, Eyebright, Rosemary, Thyme, Lavender, and Chamomile.
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Uses

For various skin disorders, persistent cough, headache, asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough, catarrh, flu, hoarseness, pleurisy, apoplexy, sore throat, inflammation, fever, diarrhea, piles, indigestion, and scrofula.

For chronic bronchitis, shortness of breath, and dry cough, try smoking the leaves. The crushed leaves or a decoction can be applied externally for insect bites, inflammations, general swellings, burns, erysipelas, leg ulcers, sores, and phlebitis.
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Formulas or Dosages

Collect the flower as soon as they open, the leaves when they reach full size.

The following is a Chinese prescription for relieving throat irritation, stubborn coughs and irritations of the lungs and air passages:

  • K’uan-tung (coltsfoot leaves) 1 oz.
  • Hu-lu-pa (fenugreek seeds) 1 oz.
  • Chiang (crushed fresh ginger root) 1/4 oz.

Put the ginger root and fenugreek seeds in 1 quart of cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, strain. Pour the boiling decoction into a container in which 1 oz. coltsfoot leaves are placed. Mix well, cover, allow to stand until cold. Strain, reheat, and add 1 tbsp. honey and a small amount of powdeered Kan-ts’ao (Chinese licorice root). Take 3 to 4 cups of the tea daily.

The leaves bruised or steeped in hot water may be applied externally.

Infusion: use 1-3 tsp. leaves or flowers with 1 cup water; steep for 30 minutes and strain. Sweeten with honey and take warm.

Decoction: use 1 oz. of leaves in 1 quart of water, let boil down to 1 pint. Sweeten with honey and take 1 cup 3 or 4 times a day.

Juice: take 1-2 tbsp., 3 times a day.

Tincture: take 1-2 tsp. at a time.
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Nutrient Content

Potassium, calcium, vitamin C
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How Sold

Capsules
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Warning

Contains traces of liver-affecting pyrrolizidine alkaloids, potentially toxic in large doses, has caused liver damage in rats.

Use internally only under medical supervision.
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Bibliography

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It! Culpeper’s Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

Buy It! Old Ways Rediscovered, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, published from 1954, print 1988

Buy It! Chinese Medicinal Herbs, compiled by Shih-Chen Li, Georgetown Press, San Francisco, California, 1973.

Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

Buy It!The Magic of Herbs, by David Conway, published by Jonathan Cape, Thirty Bedford Square, London, England. (Out of print)

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fifth Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements, by James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C., Avery Publishing Group, Inc., Garden City Park, NY

Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! An Instant Guide to Medicinal Plants, by Pamela Forey and Ruth Lindsay, Crescent Books (January 27, 1992).

Buy It! Secrets of the Chinese Herbalists, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Company, Inc., West Nyack, NY, 1987.

Buy It! A Useful Guide to Herbal Health Care, HCBL (Health Center for Better Living).,1414 Rosemary Lane, Naples, FL 34103., Special Sale Catalog, 1996

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

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