(Some plants in the Asteraceae contain hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Coltsfoot is among them. More info here: Livertoxic PAs --Henriette.)
Description: Natural Order, Composite; in the sub-order of the bonesets. Root perennial, small, creeping, blackish-brown, with numerous fibers. The flower-stems rise directly from the root, appearing early in spring before the leaves, from six to eight inches high, and each bearing a single flower-head, of the appearance of an ox-eye daisy, but with the ray florets bright yellow and in several rows. Disk florets few, tubular, sterile. Leaves all radical, appearing later in the season than the flowers, on long and furrowed petioles, broad-cordate, four to six inches long, smooth and dark-green above, whitish, veined, and soft-woolly beneath. Pappus of the fertile (ray) flowers abundant, capillary, and persistent. This plant is found in wet grounds through New England, New York, and westward; and attracts attention by its early flowers appearing without the leaves.
Properties and Uses: The root is stimulant and relaxant, of an agreeable and warming taste, and associated with some demulcent property. Like the asarum canadense, also called coltsfoot, its warm infusion promotes an outward circulation, increases expectoration, and leaves a warm and slightly tonic impression. The principal use made of it, is in debilitated coughs, whooping-cough, and humid forms of asthma; for all of which it is a good remedy to combine with such articles as cherry or boneset, though its virtues have probably been overrated. The powder is used as a snuff in chronic catarrh, when the discharge has become viscid and offensive. Prof. S. E. Carey tells me that this agent will prove fairly depurative to the liver, in doses of half a drachm three times a day; and that it is a good hepatic tonic of the moderately stimulating grade in scrofulous cases.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com