Scientific Name: Symphytum officinalis
Comfrey is a leafy perennial herb that grows well in full sun or partial shade. Wear gloves when picking comfrey leaves.
The aerial parts are rich in allantoin which stimulates the growth of new cells hence comfrey's common name "knitbone". Use comfrey externally in poultices to treat wounds, abrasions, rheumatism, muscular complaints, broken bones, abscesses, burns, bruises, sprained or twisted joints and other injuries. Avoid using comfrey on dirty wounds as rapid healing can trap dirt or pus.
Use a comfrey ointment for bone or muscle damage, including osteoarthritis, nappy rash, varicose ulcers and other open ulcers.
I would like to recommend the following simple and inexpensive recipe as written by Margie Frayne in her book "Help yourself to health: a Guide for home health using healing herbs and good nutrition" 2005.
Recipe for comfrey ointment:
500gm aqueous cream
1 cup of fresh comfrey leaves, finely chopped
Place these in a double boiler and heat up. The cream will soften and draw out the herbal ingredients. Then allow to stand for a few hours or overnight. Heat up again and strain into a bowl.Store in clean containers with a tight lid. Label the cream with a name and the date it was made.
Comfrey is a medicinal plant and can only be taken internally under supervision of your doctor or a qualified herbalist.
Avoid excessive internal consumption and do not use comfrey for long periods at a time — it can damage your liver. Do not use comfrey roots internal at all. Topical application is more effective for arthritis than internal use.
Traditionally a comfrey infusion/tea was taken against lung disorders, gastritis, stomach ulcers, and bleeding.
Use Comfrey tea as a herbal mouthwash to treat mouth ulcers and bleeding gums. A comfrey infusion, chilled with ice cubes can be used for a cold compress.
Fresh comfrey leaves form a good poultice or compress — wrap it in cloth as the hairy leaves can cause skin irritation — or purée the leaves, and apply to minor fractures that would not normally be set in plaster, such as broken toes, ribs or hairline cracks in larger bones..
You can prevent skin irritation by first rubbing a thin layer of Vaseline/ comfrey cream before you put comfrey leaves on the affected area.
Root poultice: — prepare a paste of powdered root with a little water and apply on varicose ulcers and other stubborn wounds, also for bleeding haemorrhoids.
Comfrey and animals
Use comfrey to cure septic sores on animals and use it as an animal feed. It will stimulate egg production when given to poultry. You can add small amounts to the diet of canaries and birds. Add comfrey to dog food to improve the condition of their skin and fur.
Comfrey and the organic gardener
Comfrey leaves can be placed on the compost heap to speed up decomposition.
It also is a natural fertiliser rich in calcium, potassium, iron and manganese.
Prepare a liquid feed for foliar feeding, for salad herbs, container plants and for restoring mature garden plants to health.
Recipe: Choose a bucket that will not rust or contaminate the liquid. It must have a tight fitting lid to contain the strong odour of the comfrey leaves as they start to break down.
To prepare 1,2 litres of liquid feed concentrate, use a bucket which holds 8 litres.
- Pack the container with comfrey leaves, weigh them down with something heavy like a rock or stone. Pour 600ml. of rainwater over the leaves. Cover with the lid and place in a warm position but not in direct sun. Leave for 3 to 4 weeks.
- Remove the bucket lid after 3 weeks to check. The leaves should have started to rot down, producing a murky brown liquid — or if the leaves are still taking up more than half the bucket space, put back the lid and leave to mature for a further week.
- Sieve the liquid through a piece of muslin or silk stocking into a clean bowl. Discard of the plant material remaining on the cloth.
This concentrated comfrey liquid feed will keep good for up to 6 months if stored in a screw-top container, out of direct sunlight.For a root feed, dilute the concentrate to 25ml per 1 litre of rainwater.
For a foliar feed, dilute to 12ml per 1 litre of rainwater.