Herbs-Treat and Taste is about herbs and spices and their uses in medicine and cookery.We give recipes and information which enable people to have a healthier diet which can prevent certain illnesses and alleviate symptoms such as a cough, sore throat etc.There is information on different herbs,their history ,what other people think or thought about them and what we think.
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COLTSFOOT (TUSSILAGO FARFARA): MEDICINAL BENEFITS AND USES OF COLTSFOOT: HOW TO MAKE COLTSFOOT SYRUP
COLTSFOOT, TUSSILAGO FARFARA
Coltsfoot looks a little like adandelion to which it is related, but it has a smaller flower head. The flower comes before the leaves as does that of the butterbur, and this gave it the name “Filius ante patrem” in Mediaeval Latin, which means Son before father. In fact the herbalist Gerard calls the plant by two names in his illustrations of the late 16th century, Tussilago flores and Tussilago sans flores or with and without flowers. Pliny made the mistake of thinking that the flower and leaves were of two separate plants, although the young sprouts of leaves appear as the flower dies back.
Coltsfoot is native to Britain and Europe and has become naturalized in North America and grows in temperate regions of Asia.
Tussis in Latin means cough, so the name gives the usual use of coltsfoot. In Britain it was also known as Coughwort or cough plant. It was used for centuries to cure coughs, and was approved by the German Commission E for coughs and catarrh, although it was subsequently banned because of the presence of pyrrolizidine alkaloids which include senkirkine and senecionine which can damage the liver and cause cancer. Rats fed on coltsfoot in the lab developed cancerous tumours of the live and this was cause by those alkaloids which are also present in comfrey root which is why both herbs have been banned for use in Canada. However it is thought that only prolonged use of coltsfoot is dangerous, but it is better to be safe than sorry as the old adage goes.
Coltsfoot syrup was traditionally given for coughs and bronchial ailments, and the herb was mixed with liquorice root,thyme and black cherry in some syrups. The leaves and stems have been used in these syrups although in China traditional herbalists more commonly used the flowers.
Culpeper recommended the juice from the leaves for coughs and also wrote,” The distilled water hereof, simply, or mixed with elder flowersornightshade is a singularly good remedy against all agues (fevers), to drink 2 Oz at a time and apply cloths wet therein to the head and stomach, which also does much good.”
The tisane was made with 1½ tsps of the chopped leaves to a cup of boiling water then allowed to steep for 10-20 minutes, strained and drunk. Coltsfoot wine was also made with the flowers but it has an unusual fragrance and is not as delicate asprimrosewine.
Although coltsfoot has been used for centuries, as there are other herbs to use instead of it for coughs and bronchial problems, it is best to avoid it. You could probably smoke it and not suffer any ill effects, butcatnip might be a better bet for asthma sufferers. Elder flowerswould be better for respiratory disorders too.
Put all the ingredients in a pan and boil for 15 minutes. Strain and add the honey. Gently melt, simmering over a low heat for 20 minutes. Cool before bottling. Store in refrigerator. Use within 3 months.
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