*My contribution for my grove's Imbolc Newsletter*
Lets talk Celtic Plants/Herbs:
Midwinter, Imbolc, is a beautiful time where the earth begins to warm up from the cold of winter in celebration of this transitional time many of the Celtic culture, and others all around the world celebrate the Goddess Brigid in all of her many forms.
One of the attributes of the Goddess Brigid is that she was a powerful healer, wise in the ways of Celtic medicine. There are few accounts of the herbs she would have used but many plants native to Ireland were used by the Celts.
One such plant is still used today and as it flowers early during this midwinter time of year, it is a perfect plant to focus on for Imbolc.
This plant is Coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara.
The history, and modern use, surrounding Coltsfoot is that it is a natural throat soother and a valuable natural cough remedy but it is far more than only that. For thousands of years this herb has been gathered and used to treat a variety of ailments that pertain to the throat and lungs.
This is quite fitting as this is the time of year when colds, bronchitis, and the flu can be at their cruelest and it would seem like a blessing from the Gods that this plant were to spring up and give warmth and hope when it may be needed most.
And now for the science!
Coltsfoot contains a lot of the natural chemical mucilage, which is soothing to the throat. It contains immune stimulating inulin as well. When tested against various bacteria in 1982 it was found to have antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus (staph infection), Bordetella pertussis (whooping cough), Pseudomonas aeurginosa (the blue-green pus bacteria that causes disease in plants, animals and humans) and Proteus vulgaris (an intestinal bacteria that causes wound and urinary tract infections).
Because Coltsfoot is anti-bacterial, a good expectorant, anti-inflammatory, and stimulates the respiratory and cardiovascular systems it is a great herb for treating cough, bronchitis, laryngitis and whooping cough.
Powerful in ancient times, in bloom during this time of year when we celebrate the healer Goddess Brigid, Coltsfoot is truly an amazing Celtic plant with a rich history and place in our modern world as well.
Paine, Angela. The Healing Power of Celtic Plants: their history, their use, and the scientific evidence that they work. O-books. Winchester, UK. 2006 (ISBN: 978 1 90504 762 8)