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Plant Your Pharmacy: Coltsfoot

Got a problem with your lungs? Try coltsfoot!

According to, coltsfoot is known botanically as Tussilago farfara. It is a perennial which grows hardily in Zones 3 through 7. Indianapolis is in Zone 5B, so it will grow here. It is sown in spring and considered difficult to germinate.

The Herb Book by John Lust describes coltsfoot as "one of the time-tried remedies for respiratory problems."

"Use it for coughs, colds, hoarseness, bronchitis, bronchial asthma, pleurisy, and throat catarrh," writes Lust. "For chronic bronchitis, shortness of breath, and dry cough, try smoking the leaves."

Coltsfoot can also be taken as an infusion, juice or tincture, according to Lust.

For an infusion, use 1 to 3 teaspoons of leaves or flowers with 1 cup of water. Steep for thirty minutes and strain. Sweeten with honey. Drink warm.

For a juice, take 1 to 2 tablespoons three times a day.

For a tincture, take 1 to 2 teaspoons at a time.

Coltsfoot flowers should be gathered as soon as they open, while coltsfoot leaves should be collected when they reach full size, according to Lust.

According to Wikipedia, coltsfoot may negatively affect the liver. As a result it is banned in Germany, although a non-toxic variety has been developed.


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