Coltsfoot contains livertoxic pyrrolizidines. Its use is discouraged. -Henriette.
Also see Hool, 1918: Coltsfoot.
Coltsfoot is one of the most common British plants found growing nearly everywhere in England, and is of a genus of the natural order Compositacen, and of the sub-order Corymbiferaea. In the Linnean system, Class 19, Syngenesia; second order, Polygamia. Superfluous in its form of growth, it has bractea, with a membraneous edge, a naked receptacle, a hairy papus, the florets of the ray pistilliferous, and in many rows, tongue-shaped. Those of the disc are few but perfect florets, containing both stamens and pistils. The scapes are scaly, single-flowered, and appear before the leaves early in spring, and are yellow. The leaves are heart-shaped and angular, sometimes dark-greenish brown on the top, and very downy underneath; the leaves have a somewhat flutinous and subacrid taste when chewed in the month.
The principles cf Coltsfoot are three in number—Resin, resinoid, and alkaloid; and its properties are pectoral, expectorant, demulcent, diaphoretic, diuretic, tonic, and mildly astringent. It is used in coughs, hoarseness, bronchitis, asthma, consumption, difficult breathing, inflammations, etc. The whole plant is used, and may be taken in the form of powder, pills, fluid extract, solid extract, tincture, infusion, or decoction.
In Coltsfoot we have an excellent soothing remedy for all cases of whooping cough, and all affections of the lungs and respiratory organs; and it may be used by itself or combined with other herbs that are reliable. The following is a reliable remedy:
Coltsfoot Leaves, 2 ozs.
Hyssop Herb (cut), 1 oz.
Black Horehound (cut), 1 oz.
Best Lump Ginger (crushed), 1 oz.
Put the whole in 2 quarts of cold water, boil down to 1 quart; strain and press the herbs, and when cold the liquor will be ready for use.
Dose: A wineglassful every one, two, or three hours, as the case demands.
It may be given to children of very tender years as well as to adults, but where it is desirable to make it palatable it may be made into a syrup with sugar or honey, and the dose taken as above.
In all affections of the lungs and other organs connected with them, its sanative and cleansing influence will be found highly beneficial. The Coltsfoot, being mucilaginous, soothes all the mucous surfaces that it comes in contact with, through the blood and absorbent vessels, and by that means allays the inflammation of the lungs and bronchial tubes. Hyssop, being a mild aperient, diaphoretic and pectoral, moves the bowels, opens the pores of the skin, produces sweat, and expels the mucus and phlegm from the lungs and bronchial tubes. The Black Horehound, being tonic, anti-acid, sudorific, nervine, and pectoral, corrects the acid accumulations in the stomach and bowels, soothes and stops the irritation of the nerves, tones and braces up the system, creates an appetite, produces better digestion, and assists the other ingredients to expel the obstructing substance from the body. The Ginger, being stimulative and carminative, expels wind and warms and equalises the circulation of the blood. I have known the Coltsfoot alone to produce highly beneficial results in ordinary bronchitis, but where there are complications the above formula will be found most valuable.
Coltsfoot Leaves, dry (cut), 1 lb.
Water, 2 gals.
Lump Sugar, 5 lbs.
Boil the water, and infuse the herb in a covered vessel. Let it stand until blood-warm; express, strain; add the sugar and 2 tablespoonfuls of brewer's yeast or barm; mix well. Keep it covered by the fire for 4-8 hours, after which put into a two-gallon stone jar, and then let it remain 48 hours more, uncorked. It should now be corked tightly and kept in a cool cellar. It is important to bear in mind that the stone jar should have a spile or small tap, so that the wine may be drawn off without admitting the air, which would be done each time of using it if it was emptied from the top. Or, in the absence of a stone jar, it may be bottled as gingerbeer in stone bottles, and used as required.
The above Coltsfoot Wine may be given to young or old who have been brought into a state of convalescence after having suffered from a severe attack of disease.