COLTS FOOT, Tussilago farfara

Colts Foot

Of all the problems that can beset man, there is none that is more frightening and more devastating than not being able to get your breath. Man can live weeks without food, days without water, but only a very few short minutes without breath.
There was a lady I knew who had a lot of health problems. Some of these problems were quite serious and very taxing on her mind, as well as her body. To regain her health, she changed to a strict diet of only fruits and vegetables. She used a lot of herbs and followed an exercise program. Through diligence, she overcame most all of her problems. However, at times her asthma would return. Whenever she would go to the city in the winter, the exhaust from the cars and the cold weather would bring the asthma back. She would wheeze and rattle when she breathed. In my mind, I knew she couldn’t last very long.

Someone told her to take the flower, leaf and root of the colt’s foot plant and make a tea, one teaspoon to a cup of water. She drank a half a cup night and morning. This seemed to help the problem, but only temporarily. Later, someone told her to make some tea out of colt’s foot, mullein, comfrey, yarrow and plantain and drink a cup night and morning. As the tea was steeping, she put a towel over her head and inhaled the vapors from the tea. This seemed to open the air passages in her chest and helped her to get rid of some of the phlegm that always seemed to be in her throat and bronchial. Later she learned how to burn some colt’s foot leaves as incense. That seemed to help her a lot. Burning the leaves is very effective; however, should be done in moderation because it can dry out the mucus membrane in the air passages and cause damage.

Colt’s foot is a perennial plant, found throughout most of the northern hemisphere. It will grow in most any kind of damp soil, but prefers a moist clay or limestone soil like that found in stream banks, roadsides and pastures. It has a creeping rootstock that sends up many coarse, scaly stems. Each stem supports a fine-petaled, yellow, daisy-like blossom. It blooms a month or so before a leaf is due to come forth, and sometimes while the snow is still on the ground. For this reason, one of its names is “son before father.”

The leaf is large and shaped like colt’s foot. The top of the leaf is smooth and green and the bottom of the leaf is white and woolly. The thin stem of each leaf is about 6 to 10 inches tall and comes up from the rhizome or rootstock. The flower has usually withered before the leaf appears. The whole plant and root is used.
In many of the old herb books, colt’s foot is known as the herb respiration. The botanical name of colt’s foot is “Tussilago,” which means “cough dispeller.”

For over 2,000 years, colt’s foot has been used by many nations and peoples as an answer to flu, coughs, colds, asthma, lung cancer, bronchial congestion and other problems related to the lungs and breathing. Colt’s foot is one of the main herbs in Grandma’s herbal asthma formula. It is used in cough syrups; it is powdered so it can be used as a snuff for nasal congestion to unblock sinuses. For hundreds of years, and in many countries, colt’s foot has been made into cigarettes for asthma suffers.

Some Native Americans would soak a blanket in the colt’s foot tea and wrap the patient in it to overcome congestion.
Colt’s foot became so popular in Europe that some apothecaries or drugstores used a picture or a sign of a colt’s foot plant on their doorpost or on their walls to help sell their products.

Some people ask why colt’s foot is so effective against respiratory problems. Personally, I don’t know. I only say just be glad we have it. So use it and enjoy its benefits. God bless.

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