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Coltsfoot COLTSFOOT  
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Botanical:  Tussilago farfara
Family:  Compositae (daisy) - Asteraceae (aster)
Other common names:  Colt's Foot, Horse Hoof, Calves' Foot, Son-before-the-Father, Donnhove, Coughwort, Cough Weed, Tussilago, Cough Plant, Ass's Foot, Bullsfoot, Hallfoot, Foalswort, Butter Bur*

*Please Note:   Although, Coltsfoot is closely allied to (and sometimes called Butterbur, and vice-versa), it is a different plant; however, the two plants do have many common constituents and share many similar applications.

Coltsfoot Leaf has been used for thousands of years almost exclusively for the relief of asthma, bronchitis, dry coughs, whooping cough, laryngitis, sore throat and other respiratory and inflammatory conditions.  

The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Coltsfoot is a hardy, perennial that is native to Europe and introduced to North America, where it grows wild as an invasive weed (it is even banned in some states) in waste places and on roadsides.  The plant bears yellow, dandelion-like flowers on brown-tipped stems and broad, heart-shaped leaves that have downy white hairs on the underside that have an aromatic fragrance and appear only after the flowers are in bloom.  The plant may grow to a height of twenty inches and thrives in moist, damp, clayey, neutral-to-alkaline soil in sun or partial shade.  Coltsfoot is so-named, because many people thought the plant's leaf was shaped like a colt's hoof.   Its botanical name, Tussilago, is derived from the same Latin word, which is translated as "cough dispeller," obviously referring to the plant's universal use as a cough remedy and herbal cough suppressant.  This is also a reference to many of the plant's other common names, i.e., Coughwort, Cough Plant, etc.  Coltsfoot is one of the very earliest of spring wildflowers to blossom, but because the leaves do not open until after the bright yellow flowers have bloomed, another common name evolved, i.e., Son-before-the-Father.   For more than two thousand years, Coltsfoot Leaf has been regarded as one of the best herbal remedies for coughs, and both the ancient Greeks and Romans used it to treat lung problems.  Dioscorides, Pliny, and Galen all recommended that the leaves and roots be burned over cypress charcoal and the smoke swallowed to relieve coughs and lung ailments (although this seems somewhat self-defeating).  The esteemed English herbalist of the seventeenth century, Nicholas Culpeper, echoed the ancient applications when he prescribed it for "bad, dry cough or wheezing and shortness of breath," as well as "inflammations and hot swellings."  The plant has also been used in Chinese medicine for virtually all the same applications.  The leaves of this bittersweet, astringent, expectorant herb are said to have a licorice-like flavor and has been used to flavor cough syrups and herbal tobaccos.   The plant has been used in curing pipe tobaccos and in making country wines.  Some of the constituents included in Coltsfoot are mucilage, tannin, pyrrolizidine alkaloids (which can be toxic if the herb is overused), zinc (lately found to be a very helpful ingredient in cough remedies) a bitter glucoside, phytosterol and faradial.

Beneficial Uses:
Coltsfoot Leaf has been used for thousands of years to treat lung ailments.  As an expectorant herb, Coltsfoot encourages the production and expulsion of phlegm from the lungs and has been useful for relieving dry coughs, asthma, bronchitis, excess mucus, pleurisy, pneumonia and colds.

Further assisting pulmonary conditions, Coltsfoot Leaf acts as an antispasmodic that calms the smooth muscle and controls the cough reflex, which helps to resolve whooping cough, wheezing and spasmodic coughing.  Its action as a demulcent soothes irritated tissues, reduces inflammation and catarrh, and eases smoker's cough, laryngitis, pharyngitis, sore throat and hoarseness.  It is considered an herbal antitussive, an agent that controls or prevents coughs, which further confirms its botanical name, Tussilago.  The German Commission E on Phytotherapy and Herbal Substances recommends Coltsfoot Leaf for acute catarrh of the respiratory tract, with cough and hoarseness, and mild inflammation of the oral and pharyngeal mucosa.

Used externally, herbalists have applied Coltsfoot leaves or poultices to relieve burns, insect bites, stings and other skin inflammations.

Pregnant and nursing women should avoid Coltsfoot Herbal Supplement.  Extended usage or overuse (many times the recommended dosage) should be avoided.  Excessive use of Coltsfoot may cause hypertension for some individuals and liver failure (hepatic veno-occlusive disease).  It is recommended that the use of this herb be conducted under the supervision of a health care provider, as the pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the herb are potentially toxic, particularly for individuals with liver or kidney problems.  The herb is subject to legal restrictions in some countries. Those who are allergic to members of the Compositae (daisy) - Asteraceae (aster) families, should not take Coltsfoot.

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