Coltsfoot

Home My Blog Herb Profiles Botanical Names Glossary Treatments Recipes Other stuff HERB SHOP Books & Equipment Useful Links

Tussilago farfara (L)

 

Synonyms and Common names: Fafara, Coughwort, Horsehoof, English tobacco, bullsfoot, foals foot, horsefoot, butterbur, flower velure, hallfoot, fieldhove, donnhove, son before father

French = Tussilage, German = Huflattich, Spanish = Tusilago, Italian = Tossalaggine

Order: Compositae

Description: Tussilago is a perennial herb with a creeping rhizome and long runners. Both the flower and the leaf buds grow on the rhizome. In early spring, erect, unbranched woolly stems, covered with reddish-brown scales, grow from the flower buds, terminating in a pale yellow flower head, up to 35mm in diameter, with a single-rowed involucre composed of up to 300 strap-shaped ray florets and up to 40 tubular disc florets. This becomes a white downy sphere when the long-stalked basal leaves begin to sprout. These are round, heart-shaped, shallowly toothed at the edges, and divided into five to twelve lobes. They are glossy and dark green above and greyish below due to the felt-like hairs covering the underside; the young leaves are densely felted on both sides. The fruits are long, cylindrical, glabrous achenes, with shiny white down at the tip, appearing at the same time as the large leaves. Tussilago is a common invasive weed which prefers heavy clay soils throughout Britain, Europe, North Africa and Asia and sporadically in the US.

Parts used: Dried flowers and leaves

Collection: The flowers are gathered before they reach full bloom, from the end of February to April, and dried in the shade. The leaves are collected between May and July and are chopped and dried. The fresh leaves can be used until autumn.

Constituents: Flowers - Mucilage, flavonoids (rutin and carotene), taraxanthin, arnidiol and faradiol, a little tannin, essential oil. Leaves - mucilage, abundant tannin, glycosidal bitter principle, inulin, sitosterol, zinc

Actions: Relaxing expectorant, antitussive, demulcent, anticatarrhal, diuretic

Indications: Bronchitis, laryngitis, pertussis, asthma. Specifically indicated in chronic spasmodic bronchial cough.

Therapeutics and Pharmacology: Tussilago has a soothing expectorant and antispasmodic action which is effective in the treatment of  acute or chronic bronchitis, irritating coughs, whooping cough and asthma. It reduces non-productive coughs and soothes dry, irritable airways. Its has a role in most conditions of the respiratory tract, including the chronic states of emphysema and silicosis. The mucilages supply the soothing action while the sesquiterpenes are spasmolytic. The triterpene saponins in the flowers provide a stimulating expectorant action.

Tussilago is a mild diuretic and has been used in cystitis. It contains appreciable levels of zinc which may be responsible for the herb's anti-inflammatory and healing properties; the fresh, bruised leaves can be applied to boils, abscesses and ulcers while compresses made from the fresh leaves may help to relieve joint pain. Antibacterial activity has been documented against various Gram-negative bacteria including Staphylococcus aureus, Proteus hauseri, Proteus vulgaris and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Combinations: In the treatment of coughs Tussilago may be combined with Verbascum and Marrubium.

Caution: This herb is restricted in Australia and New Zealand because it contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids which have been shown to cause liver damage in rats. However, they occur in minute quantities, and Swedish research suggests that they are destroyed by boiling. It is also thought that the mucilage present in the plant makes the alkaloid safe. Nevertheless, in the UK it is recommended that this herb should be used internally only under professional guidance.

Preparation and Dosage: (thrice daily)

Regulatory Status GSL

Dried herb: 0.6-2g or by infusion

Liquid extract: 1:1 in 25% alcohol, 0.6-2ml

Tincture: 1:5 in 45% alcohol, 2-8ml

Syrup: liquid extract 1:4 in syrup, 2-8ml

Additional Comments: Smoking Coltsfoot for the relief of coughs and asthma was recommended by the Greek physician Dioscorides and even today it is an ingredient of many herbal cigarettes. The plant's botanical name means 'cough dispeller'. The plant flowers in early spring and the leaves only appear when the flowers have died down, giving rise to the plant's old name, filius ante patrem (son before father). In China, only the flowers, which are known as kuan dong hua, are used, specifically for chronic coughs with profuse phlegm, and to force rising lung qi (energy) to descend. In Paris, the flowers used to be painted on the doorposts of apothecaries shops.

 

Bibliography

Bartram, T. 1995 Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, 1st edn.,Grace Publishers, Bournemouth.

Bremness, L. 1994 Herbs, Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Handbook, London.

BHMA 1983 British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, BHMA, Bournemouth.

Chevallier, A. 1996 The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, Dorling Kindersley, London.

Grieve, M. 1931 A Modern Herbal, (ed. C.F. Leyel 1985), London.

Hoffmann, D. 1990 The New Holistic Herbal, Second Edition, Element, Shaftesbury.

Lust, J. 1990 The Herb Book, Bantam, London.

Mabey, R. (ed.) 1991 The Complete New Herbal, Penguin, London.

Mills, S.Y. 1993 The Essential Book of Herbal Medicine, Penguin, London (First published in 1991 as Out of the Earth, Arkana)

Mills, S.Y. 1993 The A-Z of Modern Herbalism, Diamond Books, London.

Newall, C.A., Anderson, L.A., & Phillipson, J.D. 1996 Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-care Professionals, The Pharmaceutical Press, London.

Ody, P. 1993 The Herb Society's Complete Medicinal Herbal, Dorling Kindersley, London.

Polunin, M. and Robbins, C. 1992 The Natural Pharmacy, Dorling Kindersley, London.

Prihoda, A. 1989 The Healing Powers of Nature, Octopus, London.

Weiss, R.F. 1991 Herbal Medicine, Beaconsfield Arcanum, Beaconsfield.

Wren, R.C. 1988 Potter's New Cyclopaedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations, C.W.Daniel, Saffron Walden.

 

Back to top

Previous herb Back to Index Next herb

 

 

Contact: woldfarm@aol.com Please complete the 'Subject' heading or your email will be assumed to be spam and automatically deleted. Before you contact me, I'd be grateful if you would please check to see if this website has the answer to your question (search box at the top of the homepage) - I have time to answer only a few of the many emails that arrive in my inbox every day. See also the statement below:

For your safety I am prohibited from giving specific medical advice to individuals over the internet or telephone so please do not waste your time or mine by emailing or calling me with detailed information about your health problems - I can only undertake face-to-face consultations for what should be obvious reasons. Diagnoses cannot be made remotely, and I am unable to offer any advice or treatment until I am completely satisfied that I know what I'm dealing with!  The herb profiles and treatment suggestions on this website will help enable you to choose which herbs might be appropriate for minor ailments. For more serious or chronic conditions you should seek professional advice. This is particularly important if you are taking medication from your doctor or pharmacist, as some herbs can interact adversely with other drugs. If you would like to have a consultation with a medical herbalist then you should click here  then scroll to 'Professional Organisations' at the bottom of the page to find a qualified practitioner in your area.

Hit Counter

Christine Haughton, MA MNIMH MCPP FRSPH

Wold Farm, West Heslerton, Malton, North Yorkshire YO17 8RY, UK

Last updated 25th June 2014     ęPurple Sage Botanicals