It is a perennial herbaceous plant with yellow flowers that emerge in early spring and bear a close resemblance to the dandelions. The leaves appear after the flowers fade, are hoof-shaped with a width of about four inches and are slightly toothed along the margins. The herb can grow in damp or dry conditions and grows well on alkaline clays. It is usually found in places such as wastelands, on the side of the road or railway, hedge banks etc. It is native to some countries in Europe and Asia but has also been introduced in North and South America.
The main constituents of the herb are mucilage, bitter glycosides, and tannins which lend to the herb anti-inflammatory properties and make coltsfoot useful for curing coughs.
Coltsfoot is best known as an herbal remedy to treat coughs and bronchial congestion. In fact, the botanical name, Tussilago, means ‘cough dispeller’. The herb has been used for this purpose and to provide relief from other respiratory disorders since pre-historic times.
Coltsfoot is particularly useful in curing chronic coughs, as in the case of emphysema or silicosis. The leaves are widely used in European countries for medical preparations, and in China the flowering stem is the preferred ingredient, even though the flowers have a higher level of the alkaloids. Though the leaves and flowers are the commonly used parts, at times the root is also used. Colt’s foot is used to treat gout, cold, flu, fever. coughing and even perhaps help with brain damage.
Coltsfoot has also been found useful in the treatment of other conditions such as asthma, laryngitis, bronchitis, whooping cough, headaches and obstruction in the nasal passage. The flowers are also used in the preparation of a poultice, which is used to provide relief from skin problems such as sores, eczema, ulcers and inflammations.
The root of coltsfoot, if consumed in large doses can prove to be toxic. This is due to the presence of alkaloids that might have damaging effects on the liver. In fact, Germany has banned the use of coltsfoot root for internal use.
Disclaimer: Not to treat, cure, prevent or diagnose any disease, illness or condition this is purely for educational purposes. As always seek the advice of a physician.