COMFREY (Symphytum officinale) aka. Common Comfrey

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COMFREY (Symphytum Officinale) aka. Common Comfrey 

We love this plant! Comfrey is an incredible cell proliferator. It stimulates cells growth and helps with skin regeneration. 

Family: Boraginacea

Habitat & Cultivation: An indigenous European plant adaptable to the majority temperature regions across the world. Easy to grow from seed during spring time or by the root division in autumn.

Constituents: Allantoin, Mucilage, Triterpenoids, Phenolic acids (Rosmarinic acid), Asparagine, Tannins, Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids, Steroidal Saponins, Inulin, B12, Protein

Actions: Demulcent, Anti-Inflammatory, Astringent, Wounds & Bones healer, Cell-Proliferator, Demulcent, Expectorant

Parts Used:

  • Root (fresh/dry) – highest level of Allantoin and Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids

  • Aerial parts (flowers & leaves, fresh/dry) – rich in Allantoin (flowers mainly), anti-inflammatory & astringent elements  

Traditional Uses: Infused Oil, Ointment, Poultice, Tincture, Infusion

Preparation & Applications:

  • Bruises, Sprains, Traumatic Injuries & Inflamed Bunions: Gently massage Comfrey Oil or cream onto the affected area as needed. Also, creating a blend of 5-10 drop of Lavender or Thyme essential oil and Comfrey Oil will help to stimulate blood flow into the area causing the pain to subside.

  • Muscle & Bone Damage: Apply cream as needed.

  • Minor Fractures: Types that would not be normally set in plaster (hairline cracks in large bones, toes & ribs). Apply a poultice (puree of leaves) onto the affected area. Other options are applications of oil, ointment or cream onto the affected area at least 3x/day.

  • Acne: Can be the result of one or multiple issues. It can be the result of infection, internal toxicity or hormonal imbalance. Acne should be treated externally as well as internally.

  • Boils: Is the body’s way of expelling toxins. Recurring boils can signal multiple issues such as weakened immunize system or deep-seated bacterial infection. In both cases, Acne & Boils, increase intake of vitamin C and apply Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) ointment or cream to the affected area 2x/day.

  • Fungal Skin Infections: Can be difficult to heal. Apply a poultice (leaf only) to the affected area for up to 2 hours 1x/day.

  • Wounds: Apply oil, ointment or poultice onto the wound as needed.

  • Stiff & Aching Joints: Pain that is known to many of us. One of the main causes of stiff and aching joints can be inflammation – a symptom of arthritis. Apply Comfrey Oil onto the affected area, or add 40 drops of Lavender essential oil into 3Tbsp. of oil and massage the blend into the affected area.

  • Old Injuries: Combine oil with ‘warm’ essential oil (Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Oregano, Thyme, etc.) to treat bunions, arthritis, and aches & pains.

  • Diaper Rash: Sore, painful and irritating feeling which can be caused by stool or wet diapers. A symptom that can also be related to yeast infection (breastfeeding mother on antibiotics). Gently apply ointment or Oil frequently onto the affected area.

  • Cradle Cap: A minor, not serious or contagious, scaly dermatitis (crust) located on the scalp. Gently apply ointment or Oil frequently onto the affected area. Other remedies to consider for external use only: Vegetable oil can be applied on the scalp overnight to soften the crusts.

  • Perineal Tears: An injury to perineum during the childbirth. The area can be painful and slow to heal. To encourage cell growth and reduce tissue scarring gently apply Oil, or cream or ointment onto the affected areas as needed. Other remedies to consider for external use only: Blend 20ml of Comfrey oil with 2ml of Lavender essential oil and applying it as needed. Another option is to make an infusion (herbal tea) for a hip-bath 1x/day

 

Research: In 1970s compounds called Isolated Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids were found to be toxic and cause liver damage if ingested. The highest concentration of Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids can be found in the plant’s root. There is debate, however, if there is sufficient Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids through the aerial portion of the plant (flowers & leaves). However, topical preparations such as oils, creams, poultices, and ointments are considered safe and have been long known to be healers when comes to their remedial ability.

Improvements in mobility and the overall pain relief was noted when Comfrey’s external remedies were applied externally on people experiencing back pain. The test supported evidence of Comfrey’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

Many studies praise Comfrey’s ability for its rapid wound healing, skin and tissue repair, and anti-inflammatory properties complaints such as osteoarthritis, lower back pain or sprained ankle.

Caution: Do not use it on broken skin. Use only on clean cuts because rapid healing can trap dirt. DO NOT TAKE INTERNALLY! Ingesting the plant can cause serious liver damage. DO NOT TAKE INTERNALLY or EXTERNALLY while pregnant or breastfeeding! It should not be used in the combination with prescription medications that may affect liver such as acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Credits: Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine (Andrew Chevallier), The Complete Medicinal Herbal (Penelope Ody), Healing Remedies (C. Norman Shealy), National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs (Rebecca L. Johnson & Steven Foster, Tieraona Low Dog & David Kiefer), University of Maryland Medical Center

  • Jana Glanzer
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