I've usually got a supply of elderberry syrup and dried coltsfoot leaf ready for if and when the winter sniffles come, I don't often get coughs and colds and naturally the year I don't bother I get a nasty cough on the chest.
I've got some Alxanders showing strong growth near me despite the season and a few hard frosts, so I wondered if the conditions might see me able to still pick up some coltsfoot leaves. Once looking I noticed further growth.
The first coltsfoot I chanced upon was, in general, a little season weary so I got what I could and pressed on to a more secluded and sheltered spot. I found a few leaves in generally better condition but all in all I only had a small amount. Still, not bad for late December.
Despite the fact that I had prepped coltsfoot in the past I'd never used it for a chesty cough (a use which it's Latin name alludes to), only as a roasted and crumbled condiment as suggested in a Ray Mears publication. With this as a usage I figured that I wouldn't be in too much danger re the amount of use but I did still check it out and used modestly. I mixed off the boil water with a slug of runny honey and then steeped the shredded leaves in it for a few minutes before straining.
To get it in me I used fresh shredded leaves for the first one and despite having a dehydrator I opted to quickly dry the remaining leaves (in minutes) in the oven and then crumble them up with my youngest son shouting 'Oh hash'. Very funny.
I also tried this basic concoction with brandy and a bit of fresh ginger too, but felt the basic one was best. Now after starting this I felt like my throat felt better and my chest got less congested (initially I had a temperature and couldn't finish coughing as it hurt too much) so did it work? Maybe, was it a placebo effect that I willing it to work? Possibly. it's impossible to say if my chest would have been the same if I hadn't taken it, but it's worth knowing that as my coltsfoot ran out fairly quickly after taking it, the sore throat and chest tightness appears to have returned. You can guess what my note to self is after the plant has finished flowering...