Tussilago farfara, commonly known as Coltsfoot, is a plant in the family Asteraceae.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
It has been used medicinally as a cough suppressant. The name "tussilago" itself means "cough suppressant." The plant has been used historically to treat lung ailments such as asthma as well as various coughs by way of smoking. Crushed flowers supposedly cured skin conditions, and the plant has been consumed as a food product.
The discovery of toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the plant has resulted in liver health concerns.
Coltsfoot is a perennial herbaceous plant that spreads by seeds and rhizomes. Tussilago is often found in colonies of dozens of plants. The flowers, which superficially resemble dandelions, appear in early spring before dandelions appear. The leaves, which resemble a colt's foot in cross section, do not appear usually until after the seeds are set. Thus, the flowers appear on stems with no apparent leaves, and the later appearing leaves then wither and die during the season without seeming to set flowers. The plant is typically between 10 - 30 cm in height
Tussilago farfara contains tumorigenic pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Senecionine and senkirkine, present in coltsfoot, have the highest mutagenetic activity of any pyrrolozidine alkaloid, tested using Drosophila melanogaster to produce a comparative genotoxicity test. There are documented cases of coltsfoot tea causing severe liver problems in an infant, and in another case, an infant developed liver disease ---DO NOT GIVE TO INFANTS -- and died because the mother drank tea containing coltsfoot during her pregnancy. -- NOT FOR PREGNANT MOTHERS -- In response the German government banned the sale of coltsfoot. Clonal plants of colstfoot free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids were then developed in Austria and Germany. This has resulted in the development of the registered variety Tussilago farfara Wein which has no detectable levels of these alkaloids.