Coltsfoot: Uses, herbal medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Coltsfoot: Uses, herbal medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Coltsfoot is native to Europe, Asia and North America. The medically usable material used to come mainly from wild collections in Italy and the Balkans, but today, it is more drug material from the cultivation of the genetically equivalent variety Tussilago farfara “Vienna” that is traded.

Coltsfoot as a medicine

In herbal medicine, the dried leaves of the Coltsfoot (Farfarae folium) are mainly used today. In the past, the herb, the flower heads, and the root were also important.


Coltsfoot: Typical characteristics

Coltsfoot is a perennial herb, up to 30 cm high, that blooms between February and April. The leaves show a typical horseshoe shape; they are green on top and silvery on the underside. Even before the leaves appear, the bright yellow flower heads with narrow ray florets are reminiscent of dandelion flowers.

The drug material is characterized by thin, about 20 cm, lobed leaves. The leaves are hairy on the underside; only young leaves have hair on the upper side. Furthermore, the petioles are part of the drug. Coltsfoot does not give off a particular smell. The taste of coltsfoot leaves is faintly slimy and sweet.

Coltsfoot – application

Coltsfoot leaves are used to treat acute inflammation of the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract (catarrh), often accompanied by coughing and hoarseness. The leaves are also used for mild inflammation of the mouth and throat and associated dry cough.

Coltsfoot in folk medicine and homeopathy

However, Coltsfoot contains substances harmful to the liver, so the leaves are no longer ubiquitous today. Coltsfoot is used in folk medicine for dry coughs, breathing difficulties, asthma, pulmonary emphysema and stomach problems.

Homeopathically, the fresh leaves of the Coltsfoot are used for old-age coughs.


ingredients of Coltsfoot

The essential ingredients in coltsfoot leaves include the acidic mucus polysaccharides (mucilage) and inulin, which occur with a proportion of 6 to 10 per cent. It also contains about 5 per cent tanning agents, up to 0.015 per cent pyrrolizidine alkaloids with a 1,2-unsaturated nine skeleton and their N-oxides (e.g. tussilagine, senkirkin and senecionine). Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are believed to have hepatotoxic effects, i.e. they damage the liver.

Coltsfoot: Indication

There are these areas of application for Coltsfoot in herbal medicine:

  • Inflammation of the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract
  • catarrh
  • Inflammation of the mouth and throat
  • Cough
  • hoarseness

Coltsfoot – dosage

Coltsfoot leaves are almost exclusively available on the market as homoeopathic preparations. In the field of herbal medicines, only one pressed juice contains coltsfoot leaves. Tea preparations are also no longer offered due to the pyrrolizidine alkaloids they contain.

The leaves should be kept dry, cool and protected from light.

Coltsfoot: the correct dose

Unless otherwise prescribed, the average daily dose is 4.5 to 6 grams of the leaves. The daily dose should not exceed ten micrograms of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in Coltsfoot tea and tea blends and one microgram in extracts and fresh plant juices.


Coltsfoot – Preparation as a tea

To prepare tea, 1.5 to 2.5 grams of the finely chopped leaves (1 teaspoon corresponds to 1 gram) are poured over with boiling water and passed through a tea strainer after 5 to 10 minutes. Due to the hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids it contains, it is not advisable to prepare a tea from coltsfoot leaves you have collected yourself.

When not to use Coltsfoot?

Coltsfoot should not be used during pregnancy, breastfeeding, or by children under 12. However, this is purely a precautionary measure due to a lack of experience and no concrete suspected cases.

Coltsfoot leaf preparations should not be used yearly for more than 4 to 6 weeks.

Coltsfoot – synonyms

German plant name: Huflattich

German synonyms of the plant: Common Coltsfoot, field lettuce, smut lettuce, breast lettuce, Coltsfoot, field lettuce, horse’s foot, horse’s hoof, foal’s foot, brook flower, mountain slipper, donkey’s hoof, hoof leaf, heat leaves, ladder leaves, clay flower, March flower, sand flower, sand flower, summer door leaf, tobacco herb, rosehip

Latin plant name: Tussilago Grandpa L.

German drug name: Huflattichblätter

German synonyms of the drug: Brämleblätter, Heilblätter

Latin drug name: Farfara leaf

Latin synonyms of the drug: Farfara leaves, Tussilagini leaf, Tussilagini leaf

English name: Tussilago, Farfara, Coltsfoot, Coughwort, Fieldhove, Horse Hoof, Horse-foot, Horseshoe

Plant family Latin: Asteraceae

Plant family German: Korbblüts


Coltsfoot – effect

In ​​the pharynx, larynx and trachea, susceptible cough receptors respond to mechanical stimuli and cold drafts, among other things. The mucilage contained in Coltsfoot forms a protective layer so that the mucous membrane is less irritated and the urge to cough is reduced.

Side Effects of Coltsfoot

Some pyrrolizidine alkaloids have hepatotoxic and carcinogenic (cancerogenic) effects, so coltsfoot leaves are no longer allowed on the market in Austria and Denmark.

A different arrangement was made in Germany. Coltsfoot leaves may be sold and used here. Still, the application was limited in time and quantity to a daily dose of 10 micrograms of pyrrolizidine alkaloids.

Interactions with other agents are currently not known.


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