For thousands of years coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara, has been used as a medicine by western and eastern herbalists. In France it was even used as the symbol for Apothecaries.
Flower Type: 7 Regular Parts, 1″ wide, multiple rays, dandelion-like flower heads, the flowers appear before the leaves.
Stalk: Scaly, reddish in color.
Plant Type: No apparent leaves during flowering.
Leaf Type: Basal rosette, base of the leaves are heart-shaped, later toothed or shallowly lobed, 3-7″ wide, white underneath the leaf.
Coltsfoot is potentially toxic in large doses and it contains trace amounts of liver-affecting alkaloids.
Boil the fresh leaves to obtain an extract. Add two cups of sugar to every one cup of extract and boil it down until it becomes a rich syrup. To make a hard candy continue boiling until it turn into a hard ball when dropped into cold water. Both the syrup and the hard candy can be used as cough medicine. The dried leaves can be steeped to make a fragrant tea, or the leaves can be burned and the residue used as a salt-like seasoning.
Tussilago farfara (Coltsfoot)
Botrychium virginianum (Rattlesnake Fern)
Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot)
Aralia nudicaulis (Wild Sarsaparilla)
Put one root of each (a small root of Sanguinaria canadensis) in a $0.50 liquor flask with the liquor. Let it stand for three days. Take a teaspoon four times a day before meals and at bedtime.
Medicinal Parts: The leaves and flowers
Actions: Emollient, demulcent, and tonic.
Uses: Coltsfoot was used to relieve irritation of the mucous tissues for coughing, asthma, whooping-cough, laryngitis, pharyngitis, bronchitis, and other pulmonary affections. A decoction was made by boiling 1 ounce of leaves in 2 quarts of water until it boiled down to 1 pint and taken as a cupful at a time or from 1 to 4 fluid ounces. A tincture was made from the leaves, flowers and strong alcohol and it was given in doses of 1 to 10 drops. A syrup was made from the flower stalks by boiling them in water with added honey or sugar. The powdered leaves causes nasal discharge, helpful for headaches and nasal obstructions. Externally, the leaves were used in a poultice for scrofulous tumors. A cloth soaked with coltsfoot water was applied to private parts and hemorrhoids to relieve burning sensations. The flowers, buds, but mainly the leaves were smoked with other herbs to treat coughs and chest problems.