Traditional names: cuy lippe, herb peter, paigle, peggle, key flower, key of heaven, fairy cups, petty mulleins, crewel, buckles, palsywort, plumrocks, tittypines.
Cowslip is an herbaceous perennial specie belonging to the primrose family (Primulaceae), flowering in early spring. Its rhizome is dark brown, approximately 10 cm long and 0.5cm thick, from which erect the 20-25 cm long roots. Its oval leaves with crinkled surface form a rosette of leaves. The 15-25 cm high stem has a simple cluster of flowers. The nutant yellow flowers have a campanulate corolla with 5 orange spots. Flowering occurs mostly during March and April. Its fruit is an oval capsule with small, brownish gray seeds. It is native throughout temperate Eurasia, first of all in mountain forests, scrublands, fields, especially in limy, alkaline soil.
The root leaves and flowers of cowslip are used for medical purposes. The rhizome is collected when flowering or at autumn. The flowers are gathered when fully blown, while the leaves can be picked year-round. The flowers demand a fast drying and depositing in a dry space, otherwise they will lose their color. 3-3.5 kg of roots, 6-7 kg of flowers or 5 kg of leaves results in 1 kg of dried drug.
Every part of cowslip, but especially the root contains triterpene saponins and phenolglycosides (primverin, primulaverin). The flower contains less saponin, but it contains flavonoids, carotines and a little bit of volatile oils. The saponin content of the leaves is also low, but they contain L-ascorbic acid.
Cowslip is a good expectorant. It suppresses the hardly passing cough, helps breaking and expectorating phlegm. In case of bronchitis the cowslip rhizome infusion is used. It is effectively used as a diuretic and widely known as a remedy for rheumatic pains and joint gout.
In traditional medicine it was used as diuretic, depressant and for soothing rheumatic pains. The flowers were used as an expectorant, diuretic, sudorific and depressant. Occasionally it is used for dying different tea mixtures. In homeopathy it is used against headache and skin rash.
Tea: place a half spoon of dried cowslip roots or one teaspoon of dried cowslip flower in 2 dl of cold water and boil, then strain it after 10-15 minutes. In case of cough drink 3-4 cups of tea daily. Cowslip root is very rich of saponin, which is why it is the main compound of several cough suppressant tea mixtures.