A few years ago a friend gave me a comfrey plant to transplant in my garden.
At the time I had no idea what an amazing, valuable plant this would prove to be!
Comfrey is a perennial herb that grows 3 – 4 feet high, and spreads readily all over your garden if you don’t keep it in check. It has been used in medicine for the last 2000 years, the first recorded use in the year 40 A.D.
It’s Latin name is symphytum officinale, from the Greek word symphis, which actually means growing together of bones.
Wow! I know right? This would explain the folk medicine name knitbone.
The roots and leaves of this plant contain allantoin, a substance that promotes new cell growth. This is used in a variety of skin care products on the market today… HELLO younger smoother skin! Who doesn’t want that right?
The roots and leaves are also used in folk medicine, in salves and poultices. It helps soothe wounds, scratches, rashes, and abrasions. It has even been said to speed the healing of fractures. I have read a number of articles about people who have used it with success on broken toes. For this they use a poultice. What in the world is a poultice you may ask.
Well let me explain. To make a poultice, you need to blend 4 cups of chopped comfrey leaves and stems with 1/4 cup of a carrier oil, such as olive or almond oil. It’s not going to look pretty, but bear with me. This will make a paste, which you will spread on a cotton cloth and fold. This you apply to your wound, bruise, or fractured area. Leave on for at least 30 minutes, up to 3 hours. These can be made ahead of time and kept in your freezer, for when there is no time to make up a new batch.
Another effective way to use comfrey is in a salve. For this you will need to infuse olive oil, or another carrier oil with 2 cups chopped dried comfrey leaves and 1/2 cup of chopped dried root. For a proper infusion, the oil and herbs should be slowly heated in a clean jar. You can use the sun for a slower infusion, taking about 3 weeks. For a less time consuming method try your crock pot on warm with the jar sitting in water about half way up, for 12 hours up to a day or 2. Your oil will become a lovely dark green after it has soaked up the goodness of the herbs.
Then you must strain your herbs from the oil, squeezing any last oil from the herbs. I use a nylon knee high for this. Slowly heat your herbal oil on the stove in a sauce pan, preferably one you don’t mind getting melted beeswax in. Melt 1/3 cup beeswax into the oil, and when it has dissolved pour it into your containers to harden.
The comfrey leaves are best harvested when the plant is flowering, and the root either in early spring or after the first hard frost. This is when they have the most potent medicinal qualities. Dry the leaves in bundles upside down in a dark area, away from sun. Clean roots, and cut into slices, let them dry on a tray for a few days. When your herbs are sufficiently dry, store them in an airtight container away from light to maintain strength. The root is actually a bit more potent than the leaves.
Comfrey is fine to use externally, but some scientific studies have found that it probably should not be ingested, because it could cause liver damage. The verdict is still out on this, some long practicing herbalists say that you would have to ingest an enormous amount for it to be dangerous. I choose to ere on the side of caution and stick to external use.
So there you have it! A chemical free, natural but effective remedy for bumps, bruises and boo boos.
I don’t know about you, but I always try and opt for the natural option for my family’s needs!