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A Cough Remedy

Most of us go to the drugstore for all manner of over the counter remedies, but it wasn’t so long ago, that people turned to plants for their remedies. Even now, some of us know that poppies and foxgloves still provide us with medicines, but others are quite forgotten.

Coltsfoot grows along my road. Its yellow dandelion-like flowers mean spring is here. It often grows along roadsides where the soil has been disturbed. The brilliant flowers are quite a surprise because they bloom so early and are so noticeable.

Unlike the dandelion, coltsfoot has flat blossoms. The large leaves (shaped like a colt’s foot) appear after the blooms, hence its old name of Filius ante patrem which means the son before the father.

Its proper name Tussilago farfara actually means “cures a cough’”, The large leaves are harvested in June and July, then dried. When needed a tea was made and served with honey. It was used not only for alleviating coughs, but also for asthma.

Although I don’t often think of herbs being smoked, coltsfoot leaves are an ingredient in herbal cigarettes.

It can be propagated by root cuttings or seed and because it is such a spreader, it can be used as a groundcover in a sunny location. And be handy for a homemade cough cure.

5 comments to A Cough Remedy

  • O.I.M

    I have some growing on a gravel patch of driveway. it is in the deepest shade and is always among the first bloomers in spring. I thought about getting rid of it because it does spread like crazy but it’s hard to say goodbye to bright yellow flowers. easily among the brightest yellow I have seen.
    irena

  • Country Gardener

    That’s really interesting – didn’t know about it’s history as a remedy. I’ve become fond of coltfoot, as it’s one of the very first plants we seeing flowering in the spring. We have a big patch growing alongside our farm pond.

  • Commonweeder

    OIM – As the season progresses my coltsfoot will also be in shade, but while the trees are still leafless, they get a lot of sun. The yellow color is brilliant.
    CG – I’m always amazed to see those yellow flowers appear so early in the season.

  • walk2write

    The older I get, the more I want to know about traditional remedies. So many modern medicines seem more like poison than curative. Fascinating stuff. Thanks for the info.

  • Commonweeder

    w2w- It’s interesting to me that you don’t have to make your own herbal remedies anymore – they are on the shelf of the health food store – all manner of medicinal teas. But a look at label is very instructive if we want to make our own. The thing to remember is that herbs do have power, and need to be handled carefully.

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