N. F. COLTSFOOT
Martindale�s 24th Supplementary Drugs
Mrs. M. Grieve F.R.H.S.
Compiled by Ivor Hughes
Coltsfoot is the dried leaf of Tussilago Farfara Linne (Fam. Composite). Coltsfoot contains not more than 3 per cent, of foreign organic matter and yields not more than 4 per cent, of acid-insoluble ash N. F. Folia Farfarae, P. G.; Tusailage, Pas d'Ane, FT.; Huflattig, Rosshuf, G.
Coltsfoot is a low perennial, woolly herb, indigenous to Europe and growing in scattered wet places from Quebec to Pennsylvania and westward to Minnesota. It possesses a horizontal rhizome from which, early in the spring, arise several leaflets, erect, simple scapes or flower-stems bearing yellow, terminal flower-heads surrounded by an involucre of appressed scale-like bracts of a brownish-pink color. The leaves, which appear after the flowers, are all radical, vary in outline from cordate to ovate-reniform and possess white-tomentose lower surfaces. The flowers have an agreeable odor, which they retain after desiccation.The dried root and leaves are inodorous, but have a bitter, mucilaginous taste. The leaves are gathered in June and July and carefully dried. The commercial supply used in the United States comes from Europe.
Description and Physical Properties. Unground Coltsfoot. � Petiole long, pubescent; blade very brittle, nearly orbicular or broadly ovate-reniform, from 8 to 15 cm. long and nearly as wide, deeply cordate at the base, angular and dentate with red-brown teeth, palmately 5 to 9-nerved; glabrous above, slightly wrinkled, dark green to brownish green or yellowish green. The younger leaves densely white, floccose beneath, the older nearly or often quite glabrous below. Odor indistinct; taste mucilaginous, faintly herbaceous, bitter.
Powdered Coltsfoot. � Yellowish green; numerous multi-cellular, non-branching hairs, usually curved and twisted together, the lower cells up to 0.040 mm. wide, the terminal cells much elongated, 0.010 to 0.024 mm. in width and at times with spiral bands; broadly elliptical stomata up to 0.054 mm. in length and associated with' finely striated epidermal cells, the latter having wavy vertical walls; non-porous fibers few with walls from 0.006 to 0.012 mm. in thickness; parenchyma cells containing chloro-plastids; tracheae few, spiral, annular or with simple pores." N. F.
C. S. Bondurant (A. J. P., 1887, 340) examined coltsfoot chemically. He found, besides mucilage and tannin, evidences of a bitter glucoside. Klobb isolated two phytosterols from coltsfoot flowers. (P. J., 1909, 999.)
Uses. � The leaves were smoked by the ancients in pulmonary complaints, and in Germany they are said to be substituted for tobacco. The only therapeutic value they possess is a demulcent effect due to their mucilage. In the N. F. they are used in a pectoral tea(see Species Pectorales, Part III).
Dose,of the dried leaves, one to two drachms (3.9 - 7.5 Gm.), which may be conveniently given in decoction.
Off. Prep .� Species Pectorales, N. F.
Martindale�s 24th � Supplementary Drugs.
Coltsfoot Leaf (B.P.C. 1934, Ger. P., Pol. P., Swiss P.). Tussilaginis Folium; Farfarae Folia. The dried leaves of T. Farfara. Used as a decoction (1 in 20;dose: 60 ml.) for the same purposes as the flower.
Mrs. M. Grieve F.R.H.S.
COLTSFOOT. Tussilago Farfara (LINN.) N.O. Compositae.
Synonyms. Coughwort. Hallfoot. Horsehoof. Ass's Foot. Foalswort. Fieldhove. Bulls-foot. Donnhove (French) Pas d'ane
Parts Used. Leaves, flowers, root.
Habitat. Coltsfoot grows abundantly
throughout England, especially along the sides of railway banks and in waste
places, on poor stiff soils, growing as well in wet ground as in dry
situations. It has long-stalked, hoof-shaped leaves, about 4 inches across,
with angular teeth on the margins. Both surfaces are covered, when young,
with loose, white, felted woolly hairs, but those on the upper surface fall
off as the leaf expands. This felty covering easily rubs off and before the
introduction of matches, wrapped in a rag dipped in a solution of saltpetre
and dried in the sun, used to be considered an excellent tinder.
An old name for Coltsfoot was Filius ante patrem (the son before the father), because the star-like, golden flowers appear and wither before the broad, sea-green leaves are produced. The seeds are crowned with a tuft of silky hairs, the pappus, which are often used by goldfinches to line their nests, and it has been stated were in former days frequently employed by the Highlanders for stuffing mattresses and pillows. The underground stems preserve their vitality for a long period when buried deeply, so that in places where the plant has not been observed before, it will often spring up in profusion after the ground has been disturbed. In gardens and pastures it is a troublesome weed, very difficult to extirpate.
Parts Used. The leaves, collected in June and early part of July, and, to a slighter extent, the flower-stalks collected in February.
Constituents. All parts of the plant abound in mucilage, and contain a little tannin and a trace of a bitter amorphous glucoside. The flowers contain also a phytosterol and a dihydride alcohol, Faradial.
Medicinal Action and Uses. Demulcent, expectorant and tonic.
One of the most popular of cough remedies. It is generally given together with other herbs possessing pectoral qualities, such as Horehound, Marshmallow, Ground Ivy, etc.
The botanical name, Tussilago, signifies 'cough dispeller,' and Coltsfoot has justly been termed 'nature's best herb for the lungs and her most eminent thoracic.' The smoking of the leaves for a cough has the recommendation of Dioscorides, Galen, Pliny, Boyle, and other great authorities, both ancient and modern, Linnaeus stating that the Swedes of his time smoked it for that purpose. Pliny recommended the use of both roots and leaves. The leaves are the basis of the British Herb Tobacco, in which Coltsfoot predominates, the other ingredients being Buckbean, Eyebright, Betony, Rosemary, Thyme, Lavender, and Chamomile flowers. This relieves asthma and also the difficult breathing of old bronchitis. Those suffering from asthma, catarrh and other lung troubles derive much benefit from smoking this Herbal Tobacco, the use of which does not entail any of the injurious effects of ordinary tobacco.
A decoction is made of 1 oz. of leaves, in 1 quart of water boiled down to a pint, sweetened with honey or liquorice, and taken in teacupful doses frequently. This is good for both colds and asthma. Coltsfoot tea is also made for the same purpose, and Coltsfoot Rock has long been a domestic remedy for coughs.
A decoction made so strong as to be sweet and glutinous has proved of great service in scrofulous cases, and, with Wormwood, has been found efficacious in calculus complaints.
The flower-stalks contain constituents similar to those of the leases, and are directed by the British Pharmacopoeia to be employed in the preparation of Syrup of Coltsfoot, which is much recommended for use in chronic bronchitis. In Paris, the Coltsfoot flowers used to be painted as a sign on the doorpost of an apothecarie's shop. Culpepper says: 'The fresh leaves, or juice, or syrup thereof, is good for a bad dry cough, or wheezing and shortness of breath. The dry leaves are best for those who have their rheum�s and distillations upon their lungs causing a cough: for which also the dried leaves taken as tobacco, or the root is very good. The distilled water hereof simply or with elder-flowers or nightshade is a singularly good remedy against all agues, to drink 2 oz. at a time and apply cloths wet therein to the head and stomach, which also does much good being applied to any hot swellings or inflammations. It helpeth St. Anthony's fire (erysypelas) and burnings, and is singular good to take away wheals."
One of the local names for Coltsfoot, viz. Donnhove, seems to have been derived from Donn, an old word for horse, hence Donkey (a little horse). Donnhove became corrupted to Tun-hoof as did Hay-hove (a name for Ground Ivy) to ale-hoof. The plant is so dissimilar in appearance at different periods that both Gerard and Parkinson give two illustrations: one entitled 'Tussilago florens, Coltsfoot in floure,' and the other, 'Tussilaginous folia, the leaves of Coltsfoot,' or 'Tussilago herba sine flore." 'Coltsfoot hath many white and long creeping roots, from which rise up naked stalkes about a spanne long, bearing at the top yellow floures; when the stalke and seede is perished there appeare springing out of the earth many broad leaves, green above, and next the ground of a white, hoarie, or grayish colour. Seldom, or never, shall you find leaves and floures at once, but the floures are past before the leaves come out of the ground; as may appear by the first picture, which setteth forth the naked stalkes and floures; and by the second, which porttraiteth the leaves only.'
Pliny and many of the older botanists thought that the Coltsfoot was without leaves, an error that is scarcely excusable, for, notwithstanding the fact that the flowers
appear in a general way before the leaves, small leaves often begin to make their appearance before the flowering season is over. Pliny recommends the dried leaves and roots of Coltsfoot to be burnt, and the smoke drawn into the mouth through a reed and swallowed, as a remedy for an obstinate cough, the patient sipping a little wine between each inhalation. To derive the full benefit from it, it had to be burnt on cypress charcoal.
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