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Coltsfoot (Tussilagofarfara)

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Also listed as: Tussilago farfara
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • Ass's foot, Asteraceae (family), bull's foot, butterbur, colt's foot, cough plant, coughwort, farfara, foal's foot, foalswort, horse foot, horse-hoof, kuandong hua, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, tussilago, Tussilagofarfara, winter heliotrope.

Background
  • Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), a member of the Asteraceae family, is native to Europe and Asia. It is presumed to have been introduced to the United States by settlers for medicinal purposes. Today, coltsfoot has spread into the northern and middle Atlantic, Midwest, and northern Pacific areas of the United States. It is currently listed as a noxious or invasive weed in several states in the United States.
  • The leaves and flowering stems of coltsfoot have a long history of medicinal use as an expectorant (to release mucus) and cough suppressant, hence the name tussilago, which translates to cough suppressant. Coltsfoot has been used to treat other respiratory conditions, including asthma, emphysema, and smoker's cough. Coltsfoot has also been used as an astringent, as a demulcent (to soothe mucous membranes), and as a poultice for eczema, skin ulcers, insect bites, and other inflammatory skin conditions.
  • The flowers and young leaves are edible and may be consumed either raw or cooked. The rootstock has been used to make a sweet syrup.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Asthma, astringent, blood thinner, cough, demulcent (soothes mucous membranes), eczema, emphysema, food uses, high blood pressure, inflammation, insect bites, lung disease (from inhalation of silica dust or asbestos), sores.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for coltsfoot in adults.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for coltsfoot in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to coltsfoot, its components, or other members of the Asteraceae family.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Use cautiously when taken by mouth or in large amounts. Due to its pyrrolizidine alkaloid content, coltsfoot may potentially be toxic to the liver when consumed in large doses. Clinical reports of adverse effects due to ingestion of coltsfoot are lacking.
  • Coltsfoot may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
  • Coltsfoot may raise blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood pressure.
  • Use cautiously in patients taking calcium channel blockers.
  • Avoid in pregnant or breastfeeding women and infants or children, due to insufficient evidence.
  • Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to coltsfoot, its components, or other members of the Asteraceae family.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Avoid in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to insufficient evidence.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • Coltsfoot may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
  • Coltsfoot may raise blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking drugs that affect blood pressure.
  • Coltsfoot may interact with antiasthma drugs, anti-inflammatory agents, calcium channel blockers, cough suppressants, drugs that may damage the liver, or expectorants.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Coltsfoot may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
  • Coltsfoot may raise blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that affect blood pressure.
  • Coltsfoot may also interact with antiasthma herbs and supplements, anti-inflammatory herbs, cough suppressants, expectorants, herbs that affect the heart, herbs that may damage the liver, or pyrrolizidine alkaloid-containing herbs.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Fu JX. [Measurement of MEFV in 66 cases of asthma in the convalescent stage and after treatment with Chinese herbs]. Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi 1989;9(11):658-9, 644.
  2. Hwang SB, Chang MN, Garcia ML, et al. L-652,469--a dual receptor antagonist of platelet activating factor and dihydropyridines from L. Eur J Pharmacol 1987;141(2):269-281.
  3. Klepser TB, Klepser ME. Unsafe and potentially safe herbal therapies. Am J Health Syst Pharm 1999;56(2):125-138.
  4. Li YP, Wang YM. Evaluation of tussilagone: a cardiovascular-respiratory stimulant isolated from Chinese herbal medicine. Gen Pharmacol 1988;19(2):261-263.
  5. Roder E, Wiedenfeld H, Jost EJ. [Tussilagine - a New Pyrrolizidine Alkaloid from .]. Planta Med 1981;43(9):99-102.
  6. Sperl W, Stuppner H, Gassner I, et al. Reversible hepatic veno-occlusive disease in an infant after consumption of pyrrolizidine-containing herbal tea. Eur J Pediatr 1995;154(2):112-116.
  7. Turker AU, Usta C. Biological screening of some Turkish medicinal plant extracts for antimicrobial and toxicity activities. Nat Prod Res 2008;22(2):136-46.
  8. Willett KL, Roth RA, Walker L. Workshop overview: Hepatotoxicity assessment for botanical dietary supplements. Toxicol Sci 2004;79(1):4-9.
  9. Zeller W, de Gols M, Hausen BM. The sensitizing capacity of Compositae plants. VI. Guinea pig sensitization experiments with ornamental plants and weeds using different methods. Arch Dermatol Res 1985;277(1):28-35.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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