Coltsfoot is a low-growing perennial with fleshy, woolly leaves. A member of the Asteraceae (daisy) family, coltsfoot produces a single golden-yellow flower head that blooms in spring. The plant is native to Europe, but also grows widely in sandy places throughout the United States and Canada. Coltsfoot flowers resemble dandelions that bloom in early spring in long erect stalks. The plant has found particular use in Chinese herbal medicine for the treatment of respiratory diseases, including cough, asthma, and acute and chronic bronchitis. Coltsfoot has an excellent record of treating all lung ailments. It contains mucilage and heals the mucous membranes, helping the body expel excess mucous in the lungs. The root of the herb is excellent to use in cough syrups when combined with licorice root or slippery elm bark.
The flower of coltsfoot is used to cure skin infections and diseases like sores, eczema, inflammations and ulcers. The leaves of the coltsfoot contain zinc which is useful as an anti-inflammatory or even as an expectorant. Coltsfoot acts as an astringent. It also softens inflamed and irritated bowels making the intestine health. Coltsfoot contains alkaloids that if taken in large doses can be toxic and harm the liver. A number of Pharmaceutical companies has processed and prepared coltsfoot capsule. These are generally available in most health stores and pharmacies.
One of the easiest ways to reap the benefits of this herb is to make a tea by using its dried leaves. Boil a cup of water and put the dried leaves in the vessel. Allow it to steep for at least 30 minutes. Drink this tea while it is hot. It is recommended to drink up to three cups a day during treatment.
When used externally, the crushed leaves of the herb work effectively in healing burns or sores, caused by injury insect bites, etc. The crushed leaves can be directly applied to the skin.