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 Herbal Materia Medica: Coltsfoot  
Tussilago farfara


Names: Coughwort, Horsehoof, Foal's Foot.

Habitat: A common wild plant in Britain and Europe, growing in dampplaces.

Collection: The flowers should be gathered before they have fully bloomed (end of February to April) and dried carefully in the shade. The leavesare best collected between May and June. They should be chopped up before theyare dried and stored. The fresh leaves can be used until autumn.

Part Used: Dried flowers and leaves.


  • Flavonoids; rutin, hyperoside and isoquercetin
  • Mucilage, consisting of polysaccharides based on glucose, galactose, fructose, arabinose and xylose; and inulin
  • Pyrrolizidine alkaloids, including senkirkine and tussilagine
  • Tannin.
Actions: Expectorant, anti-tussive, anti-spasmodic, demulcent, anti-catarrhal, diuretic.

Indications: Coltsfoot combines a soothing expectorant effect with an anti-spasmodic action. There are useful levels of zinc in the leaves. This mineral has been shown to have marked anti-inflammatory effects. Coltsfoot may be used in chronic or acute bronchitis, irritating coughs, whooping coughs and asthma. Its soothing expectorant action gives Coltsfoot a role in most respiratory conditions, including the chronic states of emphysema. As a mild diuretic it has been used in cystitis. The fresh bruised leaves can be applied to boils, abscesses and suppurating ulcers.

Priest & Priest tell us that it is a "diffusive expectorant, sedative and demulcent: suitable for debilitated and chronic conditions, especially where there is a tubercular diathesis." They give the following specific indications: chronic pulmonary conditions, chronicemphysema and silicosis, pertussis, asthma.

King's says that "It relieves irritation of the mucous tissues. The decoction is usually administered in doses of from l to 3 or 4 fluid ounces and has been found useful in coughs, asthma, whooping cough , laryngitis, pharyngitis, bronchitis, and other pulmonary affections; in gastric and intestinal catarrh; and said to be useful in scrofula. The powdered leaves form a good errhine for giddiness, headache, nasal obstructions. Used externally, in form of poultice, to scrofulous tumors."

Combinations: In the treatment of coughs it may be used with White Horehound, Mullein or Elecampane.

Preparations & Dosage: Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto l-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried flowers of leaves and let infuse for l0 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day, as hot as possible. Tincture: take 2-4ml of the tincture three times a day.

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 About The Author
David Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMHWhilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary wholeness and responsibility for it......more
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