Herbs & Plants

Tussilago farfara

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Botanical Name: Tussilago farfara
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Tussilago
Species: T. farfara
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Synonym:  It has been called bechion bechichie or bechie, from the Ancient Greek word for “cough”. Also Ungula caballina (“horse hoof”), Pes pulli (“foal’s foot”), and Chamæleuce

Common Names:Colt’s Foot , Coughwort

Habitat : Tussilago farfara is native to several locations in Europe and Asia. It is also a common plant in North America and South America where it has been introduced, most likely by settlers as a medicinal item. The plant is often found in waste and disturbed places and along roadsides and paths. In some areas it is considered an invasive species.

Tussilago farfara is a perennial herbaceous plant that spreads by seeds and rhizomes. Tussilago is often found in colonies of dozens of plants. The flowers, which superficially resemble dandelions, appear in early spring before dandelions appear. The leaves, which resemble a colt’s foot in cross section, do not appear usually until after the seeds are set. Thus, the flowers appear on stems with no apparent leaves, and the later appearing leaves then wither and die during the season without seeming to set flowers. The plant is typically between 10 – 30 cm in height.

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Edible Uses:
Tussilago farfarais used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including The Gothic and Small Angle Shades. The Coltsfoot is also worked by the honey bee (Apis mellifera mellifera).

Constituents:  mucilage, alkaloid, saponins, tannin (especially in the leaf), zinc, potassium, calcium.

Medicinal Uses: * Asthma * Bronchitis * Colds * Congestion * Cough * Stop Smoking

Properties: * Antiscrofulous * Antitussive * Astringent * Demulcent * Emollient * Expectorant * Tonic

Parts Used: Leaves and stems of mature plant

Tussilago farfarais is used as a respiratory disinfectant, expectorant, and cough suppressant and makes an effective tea to clear congestion. Since the days of ancient Greece and Rome Tussilago farfaraishas been used to relieve asthma and bronchial congestion. At our house, we consider a keeping a store of dried Tussilago farfarais on hand a good practice for those winter coughs and colds that are bound to come. Tussilago farfarais  tea with the addition of tea and honey is one of my all time favorite winter and flu season tisanes. This is one of the most effective cold herbs I have tried. Still, I keep it for reserved for short term use because of the presence of the very small amounts of (pyrrolizidine alkaloids).

Traditional uses:
Tussilago farfara has been used in herbal medicine and has been consumed as a food product with some confectionery products, such as Coltsfoot Rock.

Known Hazards:
Tussilago farfara contains tumorigenic pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Senecionine and senkirkine, present in coltsfoot, have the highest mutagenetic activity of any pyrrolozidine alkaloid, tested using Drosophila melanogaster to produce a comparative genotoxicity test. There are documented cases of Coltsfoot tea causing severe liver problems in an infant, and in another case, an infant developed liver disease and died because the mother drank tea containing Tussilago farfarais during her pregnancy. In response the German government banned the sale of Tussilago farfarais. Clonal plants of Tussilago farfarais   free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids were then developed in Austria and Germany. This has resulted in the development of the registered variety Tussilago farfara Wein which has no detectable levels of these alkaloids

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


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