Comfrey Aka: Bruisewort, knitbone, boneset, healing herb, gum plant, blackwort, salsify, slippery root, wallroot
Gems of the past
Application (see caution)
Comfrey was used as far back as the ancient Greeks externally to treat wounds and during the first century Greek physician Diosocrides prescribed comfrey internally for respiratory and gastrointestinal problems. Plimy, the Roman naturalist also observed that by boiling it in water produced a sticky substance that would bind pieces of meat together. Comfrey as a paste hardens like plaster and cloths were soaked in it and used in battle to wrap around broken bones. Eventually the English came on board and during the 17th century herbalist Nicholas Culpeper recommended comfrey roots for inward and outward wounds because of its glutinous clammy juice. Mexican midwives still apply comfrey for vaginal tears.
Poultice – Stir fresh chopped rootstock in hot water to form a mash, spread on linen cloth and apply. Re-new every 2 – 4 hours.
Healing Properties Comfrey contains a chemical allantoin that promotes the growth of connective tissue, bone and cartilage and is easily absorbed through the skin and is an antioxidant. It is also said to ease inflammation, heal fractures, bruises and burns, (external) and heal respiratory and digestive (internal), varicose ulcers and varicose veins (poultice). Recent American research has shown it breaks down red blood cells (healing bruises), as and skin rashes and tumor fighting substances.
Researched by Embers Moore
Infusion – 2 tblsp. rootstock per ½ cu. water. Take 1 – 2 warm cups per day Fresh Leaves – used in salad and shoots as vegetable Vinegar extract – assists with cirrhosis of the liver.
Caution - Taking care with Comfrey It was discovered that comfrey contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids (also found in several of the Borage family plants) and reported that rats fed with up to 33% of comfrey leaf in their diet suffered liver cancer (Japanese scientist, 1968). Research of the whole plant has also shown that it is not carcinogenetic but the very opposite. An excessive amount in humans was shown to cause hepatic veno-occlusive disease (HVOD) or Budd-Chiari syndrome in which the liver’s blood vessels narrow, impairing its function. Comfrey therefore contains pro and anti cancer chemicals. I would recommend being very diligent in using this herb internally or not at all as this is when problems arise. I would also not recommend for persons with any issues or tendency towards cancer.