Coltsfoot is a perennial herb, which grows in regions of Europe and Asia. Its scientific name is Tussilago farfara. It is therapeutic in nature, and acts as a cough suppressant. The herb was later introduced to the Northern and Southern regions of America. It can be seen along roadsides and paths, hedge banks, railway lines, etc. It is considered to be an invasive weed, but there's more to this herb. Here's some information on its side effects and the lesser-known health benefits.
Major Side Effects
In the United States, the use of coltsfoot is a subject of controversy, as it has been known to cause side effects that largely affect the liver. Due to this, the herb has not been classified as a safe medicinal plant. The reason behind this is the herb's low concentration of carcinogenic toxins. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are phytochemicals that are present in the herb, have the tendency to accumulate in the liver and cause liver damage. Since the quantity of these toxins in the herb is less, side effects may occur or worsen only when the herb is consumed in large doses. Though moderate use of this herb may not cause serious health problems, it is recommended to refrain from its use or use it only under the supervision of a doctor.
The German government imposed restrictions on the sale of this herb due to an incident wherein a nursing mother ingested tea made from this herb, which unfortunately caused the infant to die of a liver disease.
This herb contains mucilage that helps in relieving symptoms of sore throat, cough, and bronchitis. It serves as a soothing demulcent, that heals the mucous membranes. As an expectorant, it aids in expelling mucus from the lungs. As the herb is also anti-inflammatory in nature, it speeds up the recovery process in case of a lung infection.
One of the easiest ways to reap the benefits of this herb is to make a tea by using its dried leaves. Boil a cup of water and put the dried leaves in the vessel. Allow it to steep for at least 30 minutes. Drink this tea while it is hot. It is recommended to drink up to three cups a day during treatment.
When used externally, crushed leaves of the herb work effectively in healing burns or sores, caused by injury insect bites, etc. The crushed leaves can be directly applied to the skin.
Though drinking coltsfoot tea in moderate quantity is unlikely to cause any problem, it is advised not to drink this tea many times or for prolonged periods. Pregnant women and nursing mothers must not take this herb in any form. There are several other herbal remedies that are safe and effective.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a herbal practitioner.