"If anything is broken, use comfrey"
Comfrey, also known as Symphytum officinale, is a wonderful herb for a variety of ailments and can be used both internally and externally. The parts we use are the leaves and root and we prepare it as a tea, an herbal oil, a poultice and occasionally as a tincture, although I don’t normally use it often in that form.
The first mention of comfrey being used medicinally dates back to Dioscorides, a Greek physician of the first century, or 400 BC. The Greeks used this herb for a variety of ailments, including to stop heavy bleeding and treat lung issues. Here in North America, it was used by the Cherokee for similar ailments. Comfrey has its own saying in herbal medicine “If anything is broke, use comfrey”
So why has comfrey been promoted for so long? Below is a list of its therapeutic actions:
- Antitussive – Helps stop coughing
- Astringent – tightens and tones the tissue
- Bitter – stimulates digestive juices and encourages appetite
- Cell-proliferant – enhances the formation of new tissue to speed the healing process
- Demulcent – softens and sooths damaged or inflamed tissue – the slime factor
- Expectorant – helps break up the phlegm from the respiratory tract
- Mucilant – protects damaged or inflamed tissue – another slime factor
- Nutritive – nourishing to the body
- Styptic – stops the bleeding
- Tonic – restoring and nourishing for the whole body, can be used long term
- Vulnerary – assists in healing wounds by protecting against infection and stimulating cell growth
Comfrey is one of the herbs I use in our topical wound wash and also our wound powder. I am not a fan of stiches, well needles in general, so I love what Comfrey can do. If you look back on all of the amazing benefits we just listed, it’s no surprise that that herb was one of the first I chose when I was developing our 1st Aid product line.
This soothing herb can be used on just about any part of the body. It helps with conditions such as: Burns, Wounds, Swelling, Sprains, Fractures, Bites and stings, Bruises. Blisters and even Boils. It also is wonderful for knitting tissue together to stop hemorrhaging and bleeding.
When blended with other gentle herbs such as calendula, comfrey also helps with Eczema, Psoriasis, and random skin issues. One of the most interesting skin conditions I’ve used it for, along with a few other herbs, is Molluscum. It is a virus that causes blisters on the skin and is easily transmitted and is highly contagious. I’ve seen it in day cares and in the boy’s football teams. Where? The little blisters develop along the shoulders and back where their pads fit and unfortunately, boys will be boys and they scratch…. Use your imaginations.
Moving on to the respiratory system, when we use Comfrey in tea form, it does wonders for the lungs by helping expel that phlegm that just won’t quit and soothing that irritated tissue. Remember the terms demulcent and mucilant? I’ve used it with clients who have had pneumonia and Pleurisy.
Contraindicated: Pregnancy and lactation, although as a salve on small issues shouldn’t be a problem.
Now don’t get crazy with comfrey, or really any herb. Our diets play a huge role in our health and should be our starting point. Think nutrient density, fiber, water and physical exercise.
Each of us has a different story so our current health depends on the person and the situation. If you have a lot of health issues, ask your ND, Herbalist or practitioner about using comfrey or other herbs you are unsure of. They will be able to guide you in this.
*For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.