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Comfrey

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Comfrey - Symphytum officinale

Demulcent, mildly astringent and expectorant.

Comfrey has been used in folk medicine as a poultice for treating burns and wounds.

As the plant abounds in mucilage, it is frequently given whenever a mucilaginous medicine is required and has been used like Marshmallow for intestinal troubles.

A breakdown of Comfrey's active natural compounds reveal it's a rich herbal source of allantoin, a natural substance that promotes new cell growth. It's no wonder Comfrey is commonly used in external preparations for temporary bone, cartilage, tendon and muscle discomfort, as well as to soothe irritated skin.

For its demulcent action it has long been employed domestically in lung troubles and also for quinsy and whooping-cough. The root is more effectual than the leaves and is the part usually used in cases of coughs. It is highly esteemed for all pulmonary complaints, consumption and bleeding of the lungs. A strong decoction, or tea, is recommended in cases of internal haemorrhage, whether from the lungs, stomach, bowels or from bleeding piles -to be taken every two hours till the haemorrhage ceases, in severe cases, a teaspoonful of Witch Hazel extract being added to the Comfrey root tea.

Research seems to bear out the claims for the healing properties of comfrey leaf. In one major European study, an ointment based on comfrey root proved more effective at relieving both pain and swelling in 142 patients with sprained ankles. In another study with over 300 participants showed that comfrey leaf treatments of varying types (ointments, salves, compresses and other topical applications), were very effective in treating eczema, dermatitis, viral skin infections and ulcers of the lower leg. More recent research in the United States has shown that allantoin, one of comfrey's main constituents, breaks down red blood cells, which could account for its ability to help heal bruises and contusions. With regards to the warnings that comfrey can cause cancer and liver disease, most herbal practitioners point out that those results were from studies that isolated the pyrrolizidine alkaloids and fed or injected them into animal subjects in doses far higher than any typical usage of comfrey leaf, and that comfrey leaf has been regularly ingested by thousands of people around the world without reported ill effects.

The leafy stem, 2 to 3 feet high, is stout, angular and hollow, broadly winged at the top and covered with bristly hairs. The lower, radical leaves are very large, up to 10 inches long, ovate in shape and covered with rough hairs which promote itching when touched. The stem-leaves are decurrent, i.e. a portion of them runs down the stem, the body of the leaf being continued beyond its base and point of attachment with the stem. They decrease in size the higher they grow up the stem, which is much branched above and terminated by one-sided clusters of drooping flowers, either creamy yellow, or purple, growing on short stalks. These racemes of flowers are given off in pairs, and are what is known as scorpoid in form, the curve they always assume suggesting, as the word implies, the curve of a scorpion's tail, the flowers being all placed on one side of the stem, gradually tapering from the fully-expanded blossom to the final and almost imperceptible bud at the extremity of the curve, as in the Forget-meNot. The corollas are bell-shaped, the calyx deeply five-cleft, narrow to lance-shaped, spreading, more downy in the purpleflowered type. The fruit consists of four shining nutlets, perforated at the base, and adhering to the receptacle by their base. Comfrey is in bloom throughout the greater part of the summer, the first flowers opening at the end of April or early May.

Not for internal use. Not to be used while pregnant.
This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.