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A Little Bit About Comfrey!

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 Botanical Name: Symphytum officinale.

Common Name:  Blackwort, bruisewort, common comfrey, knitbone, slippery root, boneset, yalluc, gum plant, ass ear.

Ayurvedic/ TCM Name None Available

Family: This well-known showy plant is a member of the Borage and Forget-me-not tribe, Boraginaceae. 

Parts Used: Leaves, Wilted or Dried, Roots, fresh or split length ways and dried in the sun 

Native Region Comfrey is a plant indigenous to Europe and temperate parts of Asia. It is common throughout England on the banks of rivers and ditches, and in watery places generally

Botanical Description Comfrey grows well in moist soils, producing a thick hairy stem, reaching between 2 to 5 feet tall. It displays flowers in dense clusters that range in color of dull purple, blue or white. Inside the root it is fleshy and white, and filled with juice, while the root is black on the exterior. 

Harvesting Guidelines  

Comfrey thrives in almost any soil or situation, but does best under the shade of trees. Propagation may be effected either by seed or by division of roots in the autumn: the roots are very brittle, and the least bit of root will start growing afresh. They should be planted about 2 1/2 feet apart each way, and will need no further care except to keep them clear from weeds. As a green crop they will yield largely if well-rotted manure be dug between the rows when dressing for winter. As an ornamental plant, Comfrey is often introduced into gardens, from which it is very difficult to eradicate it when it has once established itself, a new plant arising from any severed portion of the root. It has been suggested that its use can be dated back to 400 B.C. It has had various uses, not only as a medicinal herb but also as food and drink.

Constituents: 

Allantoin, rosmarinic acid, tannins, hydroxycinamon acid derivatives, as well as mucopolysaccharides. It is rich in protein, antioxidants, saponins and vitamin B12.  While both the roots and the leaves are used in herbal remedy preparations, the roots and the new leaves have a greater concentration of the poisonous pyrrollizidine alkaloids.


TASTE:  Not To Be Taken Internally 


ENERGY: Energetically Moist And Cooling 


HERB LORE

Gender, Feminine

Planet, Saturn

Elelment, Water

Powers: Safety During Travel, MoneyLORE: worn or carried, comfrey protects and ensures safety during travel, also tuck some into your suitcase so that they aren’t lost. 


ORGANS & SYSTEMS AFFECTED, Skeletal, Skin 


WORKS WELL WITH, Arnica, Calendula, Plantain, Liquorice, Marshmallow 

USES

Comfrey has traditionally been used a folk medicine for a variety of ailments, such as the topical treatment of painful muscles and joints, to aid the healing of wounds and skin cells, haematoma, broken bones, fractures, gangrene, inflammation, burns and sprains, bruises, gout, Bed sores, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, stomach and digestive problems such as diarrhea, gallstones, and also pneumonia and pleurisy, and ulcers. During World War I it was used to help heal maggot infested wounds. More recently, in the twentieth century, some medical professionals have tried to treat cancer patients with comfrey but as of yet no scientific evidence has been found to confirm its usefulness in that regard. These days, it remains a very popular herb because its ability to heal tissue and other wounds so quickly. It is not recommended for deep wounds because it may heal the outer tissue quicker. It can be beneficial as an herbal remedy for burns, bruises, and other superficial wounds. Its success has been in its use as a topical treatment. When used in low concentrations comfrey has been used in beauty creams and treatments. The fluid secretions of the plant called the mucilage have been used for healthy skin, soothing and softening it, and due to the allantoin, skin cells are regenerated also.

Allantoin has also been found in other supplements as it is considered quite safe because it has been found in the human placenta and breast milk. When in ointment form, a common therapeutic use for comfrey is the treatment of pain and inflammation, due to the ingredient of rosmarinic acid. In regards to acute upper and lower back pain, a study by Giannetti in 2010, the root extract of comfrey was found to have a potent and clinically significant effect in reducing pain in the back. Previously a study by Koll in 2004, found during several clinical trials that comfrey was effective in the treatment of strains and sprains and various other joint and muscle complaints. It has also been noted that comfrey ointment is beneficial in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee, because it decreases pain, and movement and quality of life is improved.

Other useful components of comfrey such as saponins have antibacterial and anti-edemagenic properties. It also contains choline which causes vasodilation. Rosmaricnic acid, in addition to its anti-inflammatory uses also has astringent, antioxidant, antimutagen, antibacterial and antiviral benefits, and can help with allergies. There is a mouthwash available that is made from comfrey that is used as an herbal treatment for sore throats, gum disease and vocal hoarseness. some herbalists say that it can be used as a medicinal herb for hemorrhoids or vaginal infections and is used as an herbal suppository. Caution is advised for these remedies because comfrey is not completely safe for internal use. Individuals should seek the advice of a health care provider or trained herbal specialist before using it. Although traditionally used internally for stomach ulcers, it has been found that comfrey does not cure ulcers.

ACTIONS

Vulnerary, Emollient, Astringent, Expectorant, Demulcent, Hemostatic,

Preparation

Comfrey can be bought and grown at home. it is best to harvest the leaves when the herb is in full flower. when preparing oil infused comfrey, allow the leaves to wilt overnight, then finely chop them and add the oil. the oil is ready when it is dark green. the roots and leaves of comfrey are crushed to make compresses and poultices. these are placed directly on the injury with a dressing, and are changed daily until healing has finished. a little water can also be added and it can be stored in the freezer for later use on wounds. the roots and leaves are pressed for liquid extracts. to prepare comfrey tea the roots or leaves are dried. in regards to dosage, according to germany’s commission e regulations, if comfrey extract is to be used on the skin, then no more than 100 micro-grams of pyrrolizidine alkaloids should be present in each daily use. comparably if ingested as an internal remedy, then no more than 1 micro-gram can be present due to its toxicity. even though comfrey is a natural herb, this doesn’t mean that it is automatically always beneficial, many natural substances are poisonous to humans in certain doses.                                                                       

Aerial parts:

POULTICE – Pound the comfrey leaves to prepare a puree and apply it externally on areas where there is any minor fracture, which would usually not be possible to mend by using plaster. In fact, the best places to apply this puree are broken ribs, toes or hairline cracks in any larger bone. 

CREAM – Cream prepared with comfrey leaves may be applied on the damaged bones and muscles. It is especially effective in osteoarthritis conditions. 

INFUSED OIL – Comfrey leaves may be used to prepare infused oil by adopting the hot infusion procedure. The infused oil may be used on wounds, arthritic joints, sprains as well as other distressing injuries. It may also be applied to get relief from inflamed bunions.

Root:

POULTICE – Take some amount of powdered comfrey root and prepare a paste by adding water to it. This paste should only be applied externally, as any internal use of the comfrey root is believed to have a toxic effect. This paste may be applied topically on varicose ulcers, to stop bleeding hemorrhoids as well as to heal other obstinate injuries.

SAFETY

While it has been shown that symphytum officinale has a host of beneficial uses on tissue regeneration and for pain, caution must be executed especially when taken orally. This is due to the toxic effects of the pyrrolizidine alkaloids it contains. Animal studies have revealed that these alkaloids make comfrey hepatotoxic, having severe toxic effects on the liver, producing liver tumors which have been confirmed in some human cases. It has been suggested that kidney damage may also be possible, and urinary bladder tumors have been found in rats. The United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Germany have banned the sale of oral products containing the extract. Comfrey is only sold in these countries as an external topical treatment in the form of creams or ointments. Care must be taken when using it on the skin as it can be absorbed producing harmful levels within the body. It should never be used on broken skin. Whole leaves and roots, and some of their extracts may be still be available for purchase so care must be taken when using the products. It is not thoroughly tested on its interactions with other medicines, so consult healthcare professionals before use. The herb should be avoided by women who are pregnant of breastfeeding. The US Pharmacopeia states that it should not be used on broken skin at all. It is commonly mistaken for other similar plants which have even higher levels of the toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloid, such as Russian or prickly comfrey, or foxglove.                

Notes & References

The Modern Herbal,

The Herbal supplement & resource

The Herbalist Bible

Mountain Rose Herbs

Botanic Energy 

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