Coltsfoot leaves

Coltsfoot leaves

Coltsfoot leaves

Specification & Spread

Coltsfoot leaves — folia farfarae
Coltsfoot — tussilago farfara l.
Composite family – asteraceae (compositae)
Other names: water burdock, foalfoot, sow-foot, Tussilago farfara, Fanfara, forest greenweed, bull’s-foot, colt’s foot.

It is a perennial herbaceous plant 10-25 cm tall.
The rhizome is creeping, juicy, branched and with thin roots. In early spring, numerous flowering shoots grow with underdeveloped scale-like leaves that carry one top calathidium. The flowers in the calathidium are golden yellow: the marginal ones are mock-lingual, the middle ones are tubular.
The fruit is a tetrahedral achene with a long white tuft.
The bottom leaves, used as raw materials, develop later, after fruit ripens. It is long-petiolate, broadly ovate with a deep heart-shaped notch at the base, 10–15 cm in diameter, angular, unevenly toothed, rather dense, bare from above, with white soft felt pubescence from below. The neuration is palmatous with marked three tufts of veins.

It blooms in April – May, the fruits ripen in May – June.

Spreading. The Eurasian species, widespread in all regions of the European part of the country, is common in Siberia, the Caucasus, and Central Asia.

Habitat. It grows on the banks of rivers and streams, coastal cliffs, scree, in damp ravines, along railway embankments, along highways. The plant forms thick dense thickets in places.


The chemical composition of coltsfoot

The leaves contain:

  • polysaccharides – mucus (5-10%),
  • inulin,
  • dextrin,
  • as well as bitter glycosides (2.6%),
  • sitosterol,
  • saponins,
  • organic acids,
  • carotenoids,
  • traces of essential oil
  • flavonoids,
  • tannins,
  • pyrrolizidine alkaloids in trace quantities.

Harvesting and storage of raw materials

Harvesting. The leaves are harvested in the first half of summer (June – July), when it is still relatively small, tearing with a part of the petiole no longer than 5 cm. Do not collect too young leaves with pubescence on the upper side, the leaves affected by rust fungi and starting to turn yellow. In the freshly harvested material, the affected leaves are collected, loosely laid and transported.

Together with the coltsfoot, other plants of Compositae family are often found, whose leaves are outwardly similar, but are not used in medicine. Butterbur, or andromeda (Petasites spurius (Retz.) Reinchb.), has triangular heart-shaped leaves, with a woolly ragged hairy top, snow-white, white or whitish-yellow felt.  The butterbur, or eldin (Petasites hybridus (L.) Gaertn.), has large rounded-triangular basal leaves, deeply carved at the base, almost bare from above, greyish-white, soft-folded at the bottom. Burdock (Arctium tomentosum Mill.) has entire, oblong-ovate leaves (basal), with a clearly pronounced main vein.

Security measures. Not required. The plant is actively propagated by seed and vegetatively, with the help of rhizomes. When harvesting it is necessary to leave part of the leaves.

Drying. The leaves are dried in attics under an iron roof or in the open air under a canopy, spread out in a sheet in 1 sheet with the downy side down. In the first days it is recommended to turn it 1-2 times a day to ensure uniform drying. Artificial drying is allowed at a temperature of 50-60 ºС. The raw materials easily absorb moisture and turn brown, so it must be protected from moisture. The end of the drying is determined by the fragility of leafstalks.

Storage. It is stored in a dry place on the shelves, packed in bags or bales.

External signs of raw materials

Whole raw materials

A mixture of whole or partially crushed leaves.
The leaves are roundly heart-shaped, marginal and uneven along the edge, rarely and finely toothed, glabrous above, white-topped below from an abundance of matted long hairs.
The length of the leaf blade is usually 8-15 cm, the width is about 10 cm, the length of the petiole is about 5 cm. The leaves should not be too young, i.e. should not have dense pubescence on the upper side. The leafstalks are thin, grooved from above, often with preserved felted pubescence.
The colour of the leaves on the top side is green, on the bottom is whitish-grey.
The smell is absent. The taste is slightly bitter with a flavour of mucous.

Milled raw materials

The pieces of leaves of various shapes are passing through a sieve with holes with a diameter of 7 mm.
The colour is greyish green.
The smell is absent.
The taste is slightly bitter with a flavour of mucous.

Properties and application

Pharmacotherapeutic group. Expectorant.

The pharmacological properties of coltsfoot

Coltsfoot preparations have:

  • expectorant
  • anti-inflammatory,
  • emollient and
  • disinfectant action.

Anti-inflammatory and emollient effect due to mucus. Spreading over the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract, the mucus forms a protective film that protects the epithelium from the irritating effects of cold, bacterial toxins, viruses, irritating food ingredients. Under the protective film of mucus, the activity of the inflammatory process decreases, it regenerates the damaged epithelium, its functions and ciliary movements are normalized.

Saponins and organic acids dilute the pathological secretions of the respiratory tract, resulting from inflammation, vital activity of microorganisms and viruses, contribute to their faster evacuation, purification of the respiratory tract and restoration of gas exchange.

Anti-inflammatory effect is enhanced by carotenoids and tannins. The sum of polysaccharides coltsfoot on experimental models of inflammation gives a distinct anti-inflammatory effect, the most pronounced anti-exudative effect.

In anti-inflammatory activity polysaccharides coltsfoot are not inferior to indomethacin, although its pharmacodynamics are different.

Application of coltsfoot

Infusion of coltsfoot leaves is used in complex treatment of patients with:

  • bronchitis,
  • laryngitis,
  • pneumonia,
  • bronchial asthma,
  • emphysema,
  • for the prevention of exacerbations,
  • prevention of postoperative pulmonary complications.

An infusion of coltsfoot is also used when:

  • diseases of the upper respiratory tract,
  • chronic rhinitis,
  • for occupational diseases of the lungs and for their prevention.

Usually the leaves of coltsfoot are included in the fees.
In addition, the coltsfoot is used internally in the form of aqueous extracts for gastritis, gastric ulcer and duodenal ulcer, colitis.
When furunculosis, pustular rashes make lotions, compresses, wash the affected skin.