Comfrey has been considered a healing herb since ancient times. The ancient Greeks and Romans, used this wonder herb for alleviating a number of ailments including bronchial problems, wounds, heavy bleeding and broken bones. Its popularity grew during the middle ages, mainly for healing fractures.
Comfrey grows in moist ground in valley and meadows in regions from Newfoundland south to Georgia and west to Louisiana. Comfrey can also be found growing in similar climates and geographies in Europe. Comfrey is a large plant that can reach up to 5 feet in height. The narrow oval, alternate, dark green leaves grow on the erect, upper branching stem with downy, pale yellow to purplish bell-shaped flowers that bloom from May through September. The comfrey root is black on the outside, fleshy and cream colored on the inside, and contains a glutinous juicy substance.
Its main active ingredient is allantoin, which has the ability of stimulating cell proliferation. So, it can be effective in replacing the damaged cells of the body. Besides allantoin, another important compound found in it is mucilage. Both allantoin and mucilage have anti-inflammatory properties. So, they are used in alleviating the pain and inflammation associated with broken bones, sprains, arthritis, wounds, etc. Mucilage is also effective in intestinal disorders, while allantoin augments the immune system to fight against infectious diseases.
Comfrey for Wound Healing
Comfrey is a herb or, rather a first aid home remedy. It can heal bones, quick repair wounds and skin ailments. ‘Conferta’ in Latin essentially means “to grow together” or close wounds.
Comfrey is generally used in creams, ointments and even in cosmetic as a potent healer. Application of comfrey (leaf or root) paste to wounds cause the wound to close and heal faster. This way it reduces the chances of infection and encourages the growth of new tissues. However, comfrey is not the best match for deeper wounds.
Comfrey for Skin
Effective in the treatment of eczema, dermatitis and viral skin infections, it heals and builds new skin cells. Warts are said to be cured easily with comfrey and so are sunburns soothed. It is equally good for varicose ulcers and acne.
Comfrey for Arthritis
A comfort to the arthritic, comfrey reduces pains, swellings and bruises in hours time. Comfrey balm can be prepared at home with simple ingredients like a fistful of comfrey leaves, vegetable oil and beeswax. This balm can be massaged in to swelling for faster pain relief.
Being a fertilizer, comfrey is also a favorite among gardeners. It accumulates the nutrients in the soil allowing a feed for the other plants making itself a value addition to an organic garden.
Comfrey’s high nutrient content makes it an excellent tonic. Comfrey contains a number of very beneficial nutrients and chemical compounds including:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B12 (There are only two plants that contain Vitamin B12 naturally Alfalfa and Comfrey)
- B Complex Vitamins
- Mucilaginous fiber
Side effects from correctly administered Comfrey usage are thought to be minimal. Some think that comfrey is a beneficial herb, but scientific studies show that this herb can sometimes prove to be very toxic. If you drink comfrey preparations or take it internally in other forms you run the risk of being poisoned. Below, there is given some list of side effects, if you experience any of the side effects below, stop usage immediately and report them to your family doctor
- This plant contains small quantities of a toxic alkaloid which can have a cumulative effect upon the liver. Largest concentrations are found in the roots, leaves contain higher quantities of the alkaloid as they grow older and young leaves contain almost none.
- Excessive fatigue.
- Extreme widespread itchiness.
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
- Pain or swelling in the upper right part of the abdomen.
- Yellowing of the skin or the white parts of the eyes.
Do not use preparations containing Comfrey root. Ointments containing Comfrey leaf are considered safe when applied to unbroken skin for limited periods of time.