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Coltsfoot - Tussilago farfaraColtsfoot has also become a popular confectionery product made by using Coltsfoot essence to create a hardened rock that is used to soothe sore throats and chesty coughs; the recipe has been developed exclusively by Stockley's Sweets of Oswaldtwistle, UK and has become a favourite medicinal sweet around the globe known simply as Coltsfoot rock.
Demulcent, expectorant and tonic. One of the most popular of cough remedies. It is generally given together with other herbs possessing pectoral qualities, such as Horehound, Marshmallow, Ground Ivy, etc. The botanical name, Tussilago, signifies 'cough dispeller,' and Coltsfoot has justly been termed 'nature's best herb for the lungs and her most eminent thoracic.' The smoking of the leaves for a cough has the recommendation of Dioscorides, Galen, Pliny, Boyle, and other great authorities, both ancient and modern, Linnaeus stating that the Swedes of his time smoked it for that purpose. Pliny recommended the use of both roots and leaves. The leaves are the basis of the British Herb Tobacco, in which Coltsfoot predominates, the other ingredients being Buckbean, Eyebright, Betony, Rosemary, Thyme, Lavender, and Chamomile flowers. This relieves asthma and also the difficult breathing of old bronchitis. Those suffering from asthma, catarrh and other lung troubles derive much benefit from smoking this Herbal Tobacco, the use of which does not entail any of the injurious effects of ordinary tobacco.
Coltsfoot is one of the most widely used herbs for the treatment of coughs and other lung complaints, and is the basis for many of the herbal cough preparations sold in Europe. The chemical constituents have expectorant, anti-tussive, anti-spasmodic, demulcent, anti-catarrhal and diuretic properties, making coltsfoot extremely helpful in the case of racking coughs such as those that accompany chest colds, asthma and emphysema. However, the USDA classifies coltsfoot as an herb of "unknown safety", and the presence of minute amounts of pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which have been found to cause liver toxicity and cancer, has led to its banning in West Germany. The amount of these alkaloids is extremely small, though, and the beneficial effects are generally believed to outweigh the miniscule risk.
Coltsfoot is a perennial herbaceous plant that spreads by seeds and rhizomes. Tussilago is often found in colonies of dozens of plants. The flowers, which superficially resemble dandelions, appear in early spring before dandelions appear. The leaves, which resemble a colt's foot in cross section, do not appear usually until after the seeds are set. Thus, the flowers appear on stems with no apparent leaves, and the later appearing leaves then wither and die during the season without seeming to set flowers. The plant is typically between 10 - 30 cm in height.
|Coltsfoot should not be used by pregnant women, as it may be an abortifacient, and the alkaloids seem to have a particularly harmful effect on the liver of the developing infant. It is recommended that coltsfoot tea or syrup not be used for more than 4-6|