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Facts about Comfrey

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 0

An Agent for Natural Healing

Large-leaved and furry, Comfrey is no stranger to holistic medicine. It provides relief to inner and outer parts of the body, and promotes fast healing of shallow wounds, cuts and ulcers.

Belonging to the Boraginaceae family of plants, Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is related to other helpful herbs, such as Borage and Lungwort, as well as the common garden ‘Forget-me-not’.


Plate of Boraginaceae, John Curtis's British Entomology, 1824-1835

Herbal Medicine

With names such as Knitbone, Boneset, Blackwort and Bruisewort, Comfrey is one of the best remedies you can use in the speedy repair of broken bones and the easement of bruising. Fresh, dried or in a tincture, this herb is also appropriate in the internal treatment of ulcers, haemorrhages and bronchial irritation. Both the roots and leaves of Symphytum officinale are both relied upon in herbal medicine. 

Another species of Comfrey that is utilized for the purposes of natural health is Russian Comfrey (Symphytum × uplandicum). Several key active ingredients that both types contain include mucilage, allantoin, tannins, resin, alkaloids and gum.

Comfrey helps with health issues such as:

•  gastric ulcers

•  ulcerative colitis

•  bronchitis

•  eczema

•  wounds, and 

•  bone fractures.


Herbal Actions

Comfrey is a noted demulcent with a high degree of mucilage. It is excellent at soothing pain, irritation and soreness in the chest and intestines, and is "taken internally for ulceration and erosion of the gut wall; for bronchitic conditions." (Mills, p. 67) 

Comfrey's astringent properties are particularly helpful in relation to gastritis, gastric and duodenal ulcers, and colitis. Healing the lining of the digestive tract, it soothes and protects tender mucous membranes, allowing a natural, gentle recovery to proceed. 

Comfrey root is also recognized for its expectorant qualities and may help alleviate chronic problems associated with the respiratory system. In herbal medicine, it can help cases of bronchiectasis and emphysema, where mucus is excessive.


Herbal Dosage 

Symphytum officinale can be applied in different forms – either internally, as a tea or root tincture, or externally as a ointment, poultice or compress. In terms of dosage, Comfrey can be given 2-4ml three times a day as a tincture, or drunk three times a day as a tea, or homemade decoction using the dried leaves, or root, of the herb.

When treating stomach ulcers with herbal remedies, Comfrey is ideal in combination with Meadowsweet and Marshmallow. Or, if relief is sought from bronchial complaints, White Horehound and/or Coltsfoot are beneficial in this respect. (Hoffmann, 1993)

Similar to Marigold, Comfrey is a vulnerary herb with a reputation for rapidly healing skin complaints. In ointment form, it can lessen the discomfort of eczema and increase the rate of healing of minor wounds. For poultices, dried or fresh Comfrey is used, while to create a compress, a clean cotton cloth soaked in a hot decoction, or infusion, of the herb is required.


Flowering Comfrey plant

Homeopathic Medicine

Symphytum officinale is a minor remedy in homeopathic medicine. Used to same effect as in herbal medicine, Symph. aids the healing of ulcerated tissues and may be used to treat gastralgia, and duodenal and gastric ulcers. A homeopathic remedy with a general action on the joints, it helps injuries associated with the sinews, periosteum and tendons. 

Symph. is most beneficial where there is non-union of fractures and prickly, sore irritation after amputation, and is regarded as the unequalled remedy for black eyes and traumatic eye injuries. Given as a tincture, Symph. is suitable as an external dressing for ulcers and sores.


Summary

Comfrey is invaluable in its support of the musculoskeletal system. Strengthening the tissues and bones of the body, Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) enhances overall physical health, naturally and completely.

If you are in need of a holistic remedy to relieve ulcer pain or assist a slow-healing wound, Comfrey is one herb not to overlook. Add to your own knowledge of self-healing by learning more about what Comfrey can do for you. Good health is always worth having!


Flowering Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) plants in a field

Note:

  • These facts about Comfrey are for information purposes only. 
  • Due to the presence of hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids, excessive internal consumption of Comfrey is not recommended.
  • Serious health problems must be properly diagnosed and monitored by your doctor and/or natural health professional. 
  • If prescribed pharmaceutical drugs, check first with your health professional prior to taking Comfrey and/or other herbal supplement. Adverse reactions between medication and herbs are rare but can occur.

 

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Bibliography

  1. Hoffmann, D. The New Holistic Herbal. Shaftes: Element Books Limited, 1993.
  2. Mills, S. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism. Wellingborough: Thorsons Publishers Ltd, 1985.
  3. Boericke, W. Boericke's New Manual of Homeopathic Materia Medica with Repertory. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers (P) Ltd, 2009.

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