Comfrey contains a chemical called allantoin, that promotes the growth of new cells, thus validating its more than 2500 years of external use on everything from eczema, minor cuts and burns, boils, bruises and sprains to major wounds. For wound treatment, comfrey roots are more preferred to the leaves. The roots contain twice as much allantoin.
Comfrey are used for a variety of conditions. It is a powerful herb with many actions such as; alterative, analgesic, anti-asthmatic, anti-catarrhal, anti-inflammatory, astringent, demulcent, emollient, expectorant, hemostatic, laxative, sedative, stomachic, and vulnerary. (For definitions of these actions, see "Actions Of Herbs".)
Comfrey has been found to contain chemicals (pyrrolizidines) that in large amounts cause serious liver damage and cancer in laboratory animals.
Comfrey has also been known to cause liver damage in humans. Excessive amounts of this herb can cause a disorder known as HVOD (hepatic veno-occlusive disease), or Budd-Chiar syndrome, in which the liver’s blood vessels narrow, impairing its function. HVOD has never been reported in people taking recommended amounts of the herb for brief periods.
Roman naturalist Pliny verified that boiling comfrey in water produces a sticky paste capable of binding pieces of meat together. Comfrey paste hardens like plaster. Clothes soaked in it were often wrapped around broken bones in battlefields of ancient days. When the paste dried, the results was an effective cast. Earning comfrey the names “knit bone” and “boneset”; not to be confused with the herb boneset.
As with all herbal nutrition supplements, comfrey supplements should only be used in amounts typically recommended for medicinal purposes and you should always consult with a health professional first, especially if you are pregnant, nursing or taking prescription medications.
CHEMICAL & NUTRIENT CONTENT:
Allantoin, mucilage, protein, vitamin A, B complex vitamins, C, and E, calcium, copper, germanium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sulfur and zinc.
Comfrey is a hardy five foot perennial with large, hairy leaves, thick spreading roots, a hollow stem, and bell like flowers, which may be white, purple, or blue.
Comfrey grows best from root cutting taken in early spring, or late fall, but can be started from seeds. It grows in any well drained soil and tolerates full sun or partial shade. It spreads vigorously. Contain it in a pot or border it with sheet metal to a depth of twelve inches.
Harvest comfrey leaves when flowers begin to bud. Gather roots in autumn, after the first frost, or in the spring before the first leaves appear. Wash harvested roots thoroughly and cut into slices to dry. Then powder them in a blender. Store in an air tight container.
Other herbs with astringent actions include black cohosh, cinnamon, coltsfoot, eyebright, hawthorn, horsetail, medowsweet, mullein, psyllium, red raspberry, saw palmetto, shepherd's purse, stinging nettle and tea.