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What is Coltsfoot?

Coltsfoot is an invasive, perennial plant growing up to 30 cm tall. Golden flowers that look similar to dandelions appear and die before leaves are produced, leading to the name Filius ante patrem (the son before the father). The seeds of the plant are soft, hair-like tufts often used by birds to build nests, and the leaves are broad and hoof-shaped, with hairs on upper and lower surfaces. The leaves and flowering buds are mainly used for medicinal purposes. Although related to Petasites (butterbur), activities of coltsfoot should be regarded separately.

Scientific Name(s)

Tussilago farfara

Common Name(s)

Coltsfoot also is known as Folia farfarae, Filius ante patrem (the son before the father), Kuan Don Hua/Kuandong Hua.

What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

Coltsfoot has been widely used for multiple indications, including the treatment of bronchitis, lung cancer, emphysema, inflammation, rheumatism, swelling and water retention, and tuberculosis. It was used in Chinese and Russian traditional medicine for centuries for coughs.

General uses

Information to support traditional uses (eg, antioxidant, antitussive, antimicrobial, blood vessel effects) is limited to laboratory and animal studies.

What is the recommended dosage?

Clinical trials do not provide dosage recommendations.


Avoid in pregnancy and in patients with liver disease. Information is lacking.


Avoid use. Preparations may contain liver toxicity alkaloids with cancer and mutation potential.


None well documented. Use cautiously with blood thinners (eg, warfarin) or antiplatelet agents (eg, aspirin, clopidogrel, prasugrel).

Side Effects

Clinical trials are lacking. Allergic and hypertensive effects are possible.


Carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, and sun sensitivity have been described for various chemical constituents.


1. Coltsfoot. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons [database online]. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Health Inc; January 2015.

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