Coltsfoot is a perennial that is low-growing and produces a golden yellow flower when in bloom. Although the plant is native to Europe, it’s found throughout the United States and Canada. For many years, the plant has been used as part of traditional Chinese folk medicine due to the many health benefits Coltsfoot is believed to produce. However, nowadays, it’s not often used as there are side effects and risks associated with the plant.
Coltsfoot is often used for its flowers and leaves to acquire the natural benefits it’s said to produce. The Coltsfoot roots were once used as well, but they are now avoided as the leaves contain the most natural contents, including bitter glycosides, mucilage, and tannins. Together, these properties make Coltsfoot very beneficial. Along with these great properties, Coltsfoot leaves contain pyrrolisidine alkaloids, which can be harmful; therefore, caution must be used when consuming the plant.
It’s not recommended to eat the leaves directly, but instead make a tea out of the leaf or flower to acquire the benefits of Coltsfoot. A tincture can also be made out of the leaves and flowers. It’s recommended, the tea or tincture isn’t used more than three times per day. It’s also best to not use this natural remedy for longer than one month because harmful side effects can occur.
Coltsfoot is often used to relieve coughs caused by illness, diseases, and other medical conditions. It has shown to be very beneficial to relieving chronic coughs, like those associated with emphysema. It can also be used to naturally treat sore throats.
Side Effects of Coltsfoot
However, as beneficial as Coltsfoot may be, there are known side effects because the herb contains pyrrolisidine alkaloids, which can cause liver damage. The roots of the Coltsfoot plant appear to hold the highest risk for causing liver damage, which is why they aren’t commonly used. In animal studies, results showed that Coltsfoot may cause multiple types of cancer, too.
Coltsfoot shouldn’t be taken during pregnancy nor while a mother is breast feeding. In one case, Coltsfoot was linked to an infant’s death after the mother consumed the tea and it passed through into the breast milk. As a result, the herb was banned in Germany.
It’s believed, the Coltsfoot plants found in the western areas of the world are more likely to produce harmful side effects than in other areas of the world. At this time, there are no other known interactions with Coltsfoot.
Although Coltsfoot can produce certain health benefits, it’s best to speak with your healthcare professional prior to using this natural remedy.