top of page



Botanical Name

Tussilago farfara

Common Name

Coltsfoot, British tobacco, bull’s foot, coughwort, fieldhove, flower velure, foal’s foot, foal’s wort, ginger root, horse foot, horse hoof, the son before the father



Parts Used

Flowers, leaves

Native To

Temperate to arctic regions of Europe, Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East

Harvesting Guidelines

Coltsfoot is a plant that presents a challenge for harvesters because its flowers and leaves do not typically bloom at the same time. The flowers usually wither before the leaves emerge, so there is only a short window of time to collect them before they turn to pappus. However, coltsfoot stands usually bloom at the same time or with only a slight stagger, making it easier to find and collect a sufficient amount with patience. It is best to gather the flowers before they have fully bloomed and to dry them in the shade, according to Hoffmann. Coltsfoot blooms when the ground is still bare, making it easy to spot and harvest.


Coltsfoot is a plant that is commonly used as a natural remedy for coughs. Its leaves and flowers can be made into a syrup that has a pleasant taste, with a hint of mint or honey. The plant's Latin name, Tussilago, means "cough dispeller," reflecting its traditional use as a cough remedy. The species name, farfara, refers to the plant's resemblance to the white poplar tree, with its powdery white underside of leaves. Overall, coltsfoot is a natural and soothing option for those looking for relief from coughs.

Coltsfoot is a plant that contains mucilage, a substance with a soothing demulcent property found in all parts of the plant. Studies have shown that coltsfoot mucilage has anti-inflammatory properties similar to the drug indomethacin. The plant also contains sesquiterpenes, including tussilagone, which is specific to coltsfoot and acts as a respiratory stimulant. In addition, coltsfoot contains inulin, a common immune-stimulating constituent found in aster family plants. Coltsfoot preparations have also been found to have antibacterial effects against several pathogenic bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus, Bordetella pertussis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Proteus vulgaris.(1)

Coltsfoot is a herb that is known for its ability to strengthen and support the respiratory system. It has been used for centuries to treat dry coughs, wheezing, and shortness of breath. The leaves, juice, and syrup of the plant are all effective in reducing cough frequency and protecting the throat from irritation. Coltsfoot contains a compound called tussilagone, which is a gentle respiratory stimulant and helps to dilate the bronchial passages. Recent studies have also shown that tussilagone can regulate the production and gene expression of mucin, a protein that affects the surface and protective quality of epithelial cells. Overall, coltsfoot is a versatile cough herb that is particularly effective for convulsive coughing or stubborn, irritating coughs.(2)

Coltsfoot, a plant with yellow flowers, has been used for medicinal purposes by various cultures throughout history. The Cherokee people have used coltsfoot as a natural remedy for coughs, asthma, and other respiratory issues by preparing it as a tea or syrup, or by burning and inhaling the smoke. Pliny, a first-century herbalist, also recommended inhaling the smoke of coltsfoot for persistent coughs. During the Eclectic era, coltsfoot was used to treat various respiratory and gastrointestinal conditions, including bronchitis, laryngitis, pharyngitis, and intestinal catarrh. It was also believed to be effective in treating emphysema.(3)

Coltsfoot, also known as "mother and stepmother" in Russian folk herbalism, has been used for its medicinal properties in various cultures. In Russia, the leaves and flowers are believed to have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antitussive, antimicrobial, expectorant, diaphoretic, and even neuroprotective effects. In vitro studies of cortical cell cultures have supported the potential neuroprotective properties of coltsfoot leaves.(4)

Coltsfoot, also known as Tussilago farfara, is a popular herb in Chinese medicine. The flowers of the plant are primarily used to treat coughs and bronchial spasms, such as wheezing. In Chinese medicine, the herb is known as Flos Farfarae or kuan dong hua and is used to treat chronic coughs with excessive phlegm and to help bring down Lung qi. This herb has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine and is still widely used today.(5)


Adult Dose (6)

Syrup: Add 500 grams of honey or sugar to 500 mL of infusion and heat gently; use in 5 mL doses for coughs

Infusion: 1 cup (1-2 teaspoons dried herb in 8 fl oz water) 3x/day

Tincture: 2-8 mL (1:5, 45%) 3x/day

Liquid Extract: 0.6-2 mL (1:1, 25%) 3x/day


Coltsfoot, a plant known for its medicinal properties, contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) which can be toxic to humans and other mammals. There are two categories of PAs, with saturated necine bases considered nontoxic and unsaturated necine bases considered toxic. Coltsfoot contains senskirkine and senecionine, both potentially toxic PAs, but in very low concentrations of around 0.01%. The German Federal Department of Health recommends consuming less than 0.1 ug of PAs per day, not exceeding 6 weeks of use. Tincturing coltsfoot extracts the highest concentration of PAs, while water-based preparations such as infusions, decoctions, and syrups may be safer as they do not concentrate PAs. Coltsfoot should be avoided by those with a history of liver disease and is contraindicated during pregnancy and lactation. Over-the-counter preparations for colds containing coltsfoot should not be given to children, and certified PA-free preparations are available. There have been cases of neonatal fatality and veno-occlusive disease in children due to the consumption of coltsfoot, often mistaken for other plants.(7)




(1)Paine, A. (2006). The healing power of Celtic plants. Washington, USA: John Hunt Publishing.

(2)Tierra, M. (1998). The way of Chinese herbs. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Inc.

(3)Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and art of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

(4)Shikov, A., Pozharitskaya, O., Makarov, V., Wagner, H., Verpoorte, R., & Heinrich, M. (2014). Medicinal plants of the Russian Pharmacopoeia; their history and applications. Journal of Ethnopharmacol, 3;154(3):481-536. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2014.04.007. Epub 2014 Apr 15.

(5)Li, J., Zhang, Z., Lei, Z., Qin, X. & Li, Z. (2018). NMR based metabolomic comparison of the antitussive and expectorant effect of Farfarae Flos collected at different stages. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, 20;150:377-385. doi: 10.1016/j.jpba.2017.12.028. Epub 2017 Dec 13.

(6)Paine, A. (2006). The healing power of Celtic plants. Washington, USA: John Hunt Publishing.

(7)van Wyk, B-E. & Wink, M. (2014). Phytomedicines, herbal drugs, and poisons. London, EN: Kew Publishing.


Scientific Research:

Information offered on Achula and on this page is for educational purposes only. Achula makes neither medical claim, nor intends to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Women who are pregnant or nursing, and persons with known medical conditions, should consult their licensed healthcare provider before taking any herbal product. Links to external sites are for informational purposes only. Achula neither endorses them nor is in any way responsible for their content. Readers must do their own research concerning the safety and usage of any herbs or supplements.


bottom of page