Coltsfoot extract, scientifically known as Tussilago farfara, is a medicinal herb that is also known as horsehoof, Colt’s Foot, or Coughwort. The flower of the plant looks very similar to a sunflower, particularly due to its golden-yellow bloom which is often associated with the spring season.
According to records, Coltsfoot herb has been linked to European countrysides, some parts of England, North America as well as North Africa. As a matter of fact, Coltsfoot is believed to have been used so many years ago in Greece and Rome to treat bronchial congestion and other types of respiratory issues. In addition, the herb was used to relieve whooping coughs.
The herb is rich in varied nutrients such as tannin, mucilage, saponins, and the alkaloid pyrrolizidine. Coltsfoot is popular for their ability as an anti-spasmodic, anti-tussive, emollient, expectorant, antiscrofulous, diuretic, demulcent, anti-catarrhal, astringent, and anti-inflammatory.
Coltsfoot contains high amounts of various beneficial elements, including vitamins (A, B, and C), calcium, zinc, sulfur, copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and sulfur. In fact, in ancient China, Coltsfoot was used as a remedy for coughs. The herb is also used topically, to treat rashes, sores, joint pains, as well as minor injuries. For treatments such as this, Coltsfoot extract or a poultice of its crushed leaves is used.
The Health Benefits of Coltsfoot
- The leaves of the Coltsfoot plants are effective in relieving respiratory conditions such as common coughs, cold, bronchitis, asthma, emphysema, sinusitis, chest problems, and congestion. Smokers, who are addicted to smoking and trying to give up the habit, would find Coltsfoot very helpful. This is because the herb is a perfect substitute for nicotine for smokers.
- Tinctures prepared from the dried leaves of Coltsfoot are effective for internally treating colitis and many other duodenal issues. The herb helps to clear nasal passages as well as treat sore throats. It improves the immune system by enhancing the lymphatic discharge in the body and is effective for curing allergies too.
- Coltsfoot is most usually used to lower inflammation. However, the antioxidant properties of the herb improve the skin’s appearance too. It enhances the condition of the skin and lowers the oxidative stress on it. Coltsfoot protects against microbial function and prevents premature skin aging. In fact, due to this, cosmetic toners make use of Coltsfoot as it contains high amounts of rejuvenating properties.
- The Coltsfoot leaf is often dried, cooled and used as a douche or for relief from other vaginal irritations. However, it is important to note that excessive douching can result in certain vaginal problems.
- Coltsfoot contains antibacterial abilities that promote the herb as an antiseptic for treating several types of external wounds. In fact, its high mucilage content is effective for eliminating both oily and dry dandruff.
- Coltsfoot tea contains amazing microbial properties, which makes it an excellent eyewash that helps to treat irritated eyes speedily. When combined with barberry bark (Berberis vulgaris), marigold flowers (Calendula officinalis), and purple coneflower (Echinacea spp.), Coltsfoot tea can help relieve all types of eye irritations.
- Coltsfoot flower also helps to combat depression and is effective as therapeutic oils. When consumed regularly, the herb helps to boost the immune system. Coltsfoot inhibits diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, colitis, and gastric ulcers. It contains amazing antimicrobial properties, making it effective for treating cystitis and many other urinary tract infections.
- Coltsfoot root contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which have the possibility of adversely affecting the liver. However, a major part of these alkaloids is destroyed while boiling the plant to prepare a decoction. However, the herb is safe for use if taken in moderate doses.
Coltsfoot is commonly taken in teas or in cough syrups. Coltsfoot is actually also one of the herbs traditionally smoked and may be effective as a transition for people who desire to quit smoking tobacco.
To prepare a decoction of coltsfoot, use an ounce of leaves and one quart of water that is boiled to the point where the water has been reduced to a pint. The preparation can be sweetened with honey. if you like. For asthma and colds, frequent cups of the decoction all through the day will provide significant relief.
Side Effects and Precautions
- Coltsfoot may be toxic to the liver as it contains certain alkaloids that lead to health issues if it is consumed for a prolonged period of time or in large amounts.
- It is not advisable that you take coltsfoot for more than a month.
- When used for a long period of time, Coltsfoot may also increase blood pressure. Therefore, people who are hypertensive or suffer heart-related issues should steer clear of the herb as much as possible.
- Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and young children should avoid the use of Coltsfoot.
In addition to its diverse range of medicinal benefits, coltsfoot seeds are also used to stuff mattresses and pillows. Also, the extracts of the herb are also used to flavor candy.
The Bottom Line
Coltsfoot is a traditional herbal remedy used around the world for treating coughs and respiratory problems. The herb is made from coltsfoot flowers and leaves and comes in the form of tea to alleviate persistent coughs often connected with emphysema, silicosis, and bronchitis. There are herbal practitioners who use the herb in combinations that are smoked to relieve coughs. However, the idea behind this is highly questionable and could result in other respiratory problems.
The main components of the herb include tannins, mucilage, and bitter glycosides, as well as its anti-inflammatory properties, making the herb very effective for treating coughs. Interestingly, in some countries, the flowering stem is the most preferred part of the plant as it contains a higher level of alkaloids.
It must, however, be noted that some studies suggest that the leaves and dried flowers commonly used in making Coltsfoot tea contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids which can lead to chronic liver damage and even cancer. While coltsfoot may contain a diverse range of health benefits, it is still advisable to consult a medical practitioner for advise before using the herb.