Careful where you toss Comfrey. It will sprout a new patch wherever it hits the ground.

Comfrey – also commonly known as Bruise Wort and  Knitbone (the later for good reason) – is like a mythical monster and, in some ways like Horseradish –  the smallest bit of comfrey root will sprout a whole new plant.   I like to put comfrey under newly planted trees.  She provides a shade covering helping the soil retain moisture and her leaves will compost into very nutritious root food.   This fact gives good evidence to it’s benefits to the human body too.

Comfrey is truly the plant that keeps on giving. You can chop comfrey to the ground and it will come back, enough to be harvested three or four times a year.   And, no matter where you live, Comfrey will live there too.

For many generations in old Europe, comfrey was one of the plants that almost everyone kept right outside their doorsteps where it became more of a domesticated plant than a weed able to treat a variety of ailments.  Until just recently, comfrey was an official medicine, one of a handful of the most respected medicine plants that merited “officinale” in their Latin names. Another member of the royal dispensary of official is dandelion (Taraxicum officinale).

Today, most doctors don’t just discount comfrey, they warn against using it. Comfrey has been declared unsafe by the USA FDA for internal use. If comfrey has been used for centuries, why is it now considered toxic and too dangerous to be used medicinally? The FDA’s declaration was based on a study in which the pyrrolizidine alkaloids were extracted from the roots of comfrey and injected in large doses into rats. Researchers found that this caused pre-cancerous liver changes in the rats, which somehow became translated as “comfrey causes cancer.”

Now, injecting oneself with a drug made in a lab from the roots is very different than drinking a cup of tea or applying a poultice. Many herbalists have called this study into question for several reasons: one, it makes a big difference when one compound is isolated from the rest of the constituents that make up the chemistry and magic of the plant; two, you would have to drink dozens if not hundreds of cups of comfrey to consume the amount of alkaloids each rat was given; three humans and rats don’t necessarily respond to alkaloids the same way, and there have been no clinical studies done with humans as far as I know.

Comfrey has been used thousands of years of use by millions of people, only two reports of hepatotoxicity (liver cell toxicity) have been documented in humans.  And in both these cases, poor nutrition, pre-existing illness, and use of liver-toxic drugs were contributing factors.

Nevertheless, this article focuses primarily on using comfrey externally. Of course, the safety issues only apply to taking comfrey internally; for many ailments comfrey can be used externally instead. In addition, the leaves, which have much lower concentrations of these alkaloids, can be used instead of the roots (making a tea and gargling for a sore throat)

Comfrey is high in Silica. Another aid to healing with Comfrey is the component Allantoin, which is a cell-proliferant. A cell-proliferant encourages the cells of the body to grow again: bone growth, skin repair, and hair and nail growth are all affected beneficially by the Allantoin in Comfrey, as well as its abundant silica. And Comfrey has a lot of mucilage, a slimy material which helps healing. This means that Comfrey, with its Allantoin and Silica, and Mucilage, and Vitamins, is truly a ‘wonderful healer. Comfrey can heal just about anything:

  • Fractures (even festering) bones.
  • Growths on the bones, hands and feet
  • Varicose veins, veins that are open,
  • Neck pain
  • Amputation of limbs
  • Thinning of bone tissue
  • Pain in the arms and legs after fractures
    Pain in the lower part of the spine and vertebrae damage
  • Pain in the shoulders, elbows and knees, problems due to osteoporosis,
  • Numbness of the legs of the soles of the feet to the hip
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Rheumatic thickening of the muscle, gouts, arthritis, circulatory disorders .
  • All types of injuries, bites, bruises, wounds, blood clotting

Comfrey is the wound-healer plant but there is one warning to be mindful about. If only the tissues close to the surface are in contact with the comfrey, it can actually cause the skin to close over, trapping infection inside. For deep wounds, a plant such as Plantain (Plantago lanceolata or P. major) would be more appropriate. I like to add DSMO to my poultice to ensure the medicine travels into the deep tissues.

Comfrey is irreplaceable in inflammation of tendons, arthritis (joint inflammation), distortion (dislocation, sprain), contusion (charge, contusion), hematoma (bruising), thrombophlebitis (inflammation of the veins) and other.  And, itoccupies a place of honour in cosmetics for the face and hands. One of the properties of this tincture is that renews and regenerates loose and wrinkled skin (especially wrinkles around the eyes).  After long use of  a tincture on the skin of the face and hands, they get completely regenerated.   As far as I know, there is no better remedy than the comfrey root tincture for external use against gout, which should be lightly rubbed in severe gout.

The recipe of a Poultice

Harvest and clean the leaves
Grind up the leaves with warm water in a food chopper, or blender.
Add enough water to get everything flowing nicely in the blender.
Mix in flour by hand to form mixture into the thick paste (I used wheat, but rice flour or other types of flour should work just as well)
Spread the mixture between layers of cloth or gauze in the size that you want your poultice to be

You can store poultices in freezer between layers of waxed paper if not using immediately

The recipe for the comfrey tincture of comfrey:

Put 100 grams of comfrey root in 700 ml of strong brandy or alcohol into the bottle and lay horizontally that ‘it must be aged’ in a dark place for 14 days.
Shake it every third day.
After 14 days, strain and keep it in a dark glass bottle in a cool place.
Lubricate the affected area with this tincture, three times a day.

* Pure alcohol instead of brandy leaves the tincture odorless. Comfrey with brandy has a very unpleasant smell. This tincture is very sticky.

The Recipe for Comfrey Oil

Harvest the comfrey leaves in the afternoon, after the sun has dried off the morning dew. Wet plant materials will make moldy oils, so it is best to wait at least 36 hours after the last rain before harvesting.

In a warm, dry, well-ventilated place (such as an attic, an oven with a pilot light, or even your car!), wilt the whole fresh leaves for 12 hours or until the edges are crispy.  You can also do this in a dehydrator.

Fill a jar completely full of the whole wilted leaves, leaving a little headroom at the top. Add olive oil until the jar is full to the brim.

Tightly seal the jar. Label it with the plant name and date harvested. Put it in a dish on the counter (herbal oils always seem to leak).

Tend it a few times a week by poking the plant material down to release air bubbles and topping it off so the level of the oil is above the level of the leaves.

After six weeks, strain out the plant material, and your infused oil is ready to use!

For a very effective eye wash remedy using comfrey, CLICK HERE

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