Scientific: Symphytum officinale [WikiPedia]
Composition: Active constituents include rosmarinic acid, mucopolysaccharides, allantoin, and mucilage.
Appearance: Comfrey is a robust plant with coarsely textured, broadly lance-shaped leaves that may exceed a foot in length at the base of the plant and become progressively smaller towards the top of the plant. The downy tubular flowers are presented among the small upper leaves in drooping clusters and are usually a shade of pink or purple but are sometimes white or pale yellow.
Parts Used: All aboveground parts
Common Uses: Heals wounds; anti-inflammatory; astringent; lubricates, soothes, and protects internal mucous membranes; expectorant
Comfrey is well known as “bone knit.” It’s earned this name because of its great affinity for fast tissue healing, including skin, muscle, tendons and even bones.
Comfrey can be applied topically on the affected area as a salve, poultice or tea to speed the healing process for sore joints, burns and swelling. Dried comfrey can also be used as a styptic to stop bleeding – just apply the dried herb directly to the skin. Comfrey leaves are rich in calcium, potassium, protein, vitamins A, C and B12. Because of their properties farmers used to feed Comfrey leaves to their animals as a part of their diet. The herb protected the cattle from seasonal diseases and boosted their immunity. To this day Comfrey is added to salads, vegetable dishes and other foods as a delicacy. People living in the Far East make tea out of Comfrey leaves and drink it as a refreshing beverage.
Comfrey consists of chemicals and constituents with medicinal properties. Allantoin is an ingredient, which helps in cell growth and bone strengthening. Due to its analgesic and anti- inflammatory properties, Comfrey is used in medicines for sprains, joint stiffness, pain in the joints or muscles and edema. Other ingredients include rosmarinic acid, steroidal saponins, triterpenoids, sugar, carotene, alkaloids, gum, beta- sitosterol, zinc, inulin, mucilage, protein and vitamin B12. These elements are useful in the overall health of both humans and animals.
- Like calendula, comfrey is used to speed wound healing and diminish the amount of pain at the healing site. This is because of substances like allantoin, rosmarinic acid, and tannins, which help produce new skin. Because comfrey can help stimulate cell growth, it can work wonders on wounds, scrapes, tissue and ligament tears when applied as an ointment, massage oil or poultice over the skin.
- Stops bleeding. Apply a little dried comfrey to a bleeding cut or nail to stop the bleeding.
- Some references can be found for comfrey as a treatment for skin irritations, bites and other maladies. A tea infusion of comfrey using one to two cups of water along with half a cup of dried comfrey leaves can be applied to a rash or bite (once the tea has cooled, of course). Because of the aforementioned goodies in comfrey, the irritation should clear right up.
- There is some anecdotal evidence pertaining to comfrey’s ability to knit together broken bones, which likely accounts for its “knitbone” nickname. Setting a poultice of comfrey over the site of broken bones can help in the healing process, say some, as the herb’s ability to stitch together cells and aid in the speeding of natural processes can certainly come in handy.
Alternatives and Adjuncts: External applications, combine with calendula, chamomile, aloe, Saint-Johns-wort or bee balm. Gastric disorder application, combine with cleavers, calendula, catnip and chamomile.
Topic Specific References:
- Herbal First Aid for Dogs (Dogs Naturally Magazine) [Ref]
- Comfrey [Ref]
- Herbal Remedies Info [Ref]
- Comfrey root: from tradition to modern clinical trials. [PubMED]
- Physicochemical properties and activities of comfrey polysaccharides extracted by different techniques [PubMED]
PLEASE NOTE that herbal and other natural products can harm your animals – not all plants are safe and gentle! Do not attempt using any of the ingredients listed, or any other plant matter, without the guidance of a qualified herbalist.