What is Comfrey?

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Comfrey plant draws nutrients up from deep in the soil for your garden

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Botanical Name: Symphytum x uplandica

There are two species of comfrey: Wild Comfrey, Symphytum officinale, and cultivated comfrey, Symphytum x uplandica. The “x” means it is a hybrid, a cross. Wild comfrey, Symphytum officinale, is a small plant up to a meter tall with yellow flowers. Cultivated comfrey Symphytum x uplandica is a large plant often surpassing two meters with blue or purple flowers.

Common Names: Comfrey, Knitbone, boneset, consound, slippery root, blackwort

Comfrey is an indispensable herb to grow in your garden. Not only is it a rich fertilizer, mulch and compost activator, it is also a powerful healing herb for the skin and bones. A herbaceous perennial plant is has prickly hairy spongey leaves. Leaves or roots applied as a wash, poultice or ointment are used for bruising, sciatica, boils, rheumatism, neuralgia, varicose veins, bed sores, wounds, ulcers, insect bites, tumours, muscular pain, pulled tendons, gangrene, shingles and dermatological conditions.

A local grandmother told me she makes her own ointment from this plant. So renown is it for healing, that her grandchildren call it Grandma’s magic cream. Adding it to the bath water is said to promote a youthful skin and reduce aches and pains. It acts as an emollient and is very soothing, inhibiting further damage to tissues, stimulating the production of cartilage, tendons and muscles. It has been esteemed as a blood, bone and flesh builder. The dark green colour of the leaves indicates the richness of chlorophyll with a molecular structure closely resembling our blood. Chlorophyll acts as a catalyst, to promote healing within the body of man and animals, and is a valuable blood purifier. Scientific research shows that chlorophyll helps to rejuvenate old cells and promote the growth of new cells. This action, together with comfrey’s allantoin properties (a cell proliferant) provides us with a very powerful herb. Allantoin is one of the elements that makes comfrey unique.

Allantoin is also produced in the allantois gland of the umbilical cord (the link between mother and developing baby, which feeds the embryo) for promoting rapid cell growth. Mothers’ milk is also rich in allantoin (which stimulates rapid growth of the new baby) and then the element fades out. This process also takes place in other mammals. Allantoin is a leucocytosis promoter (increases white blood cells) that helps to establish immunity from many infectious conditions. A young man came to me complaining of a damaged wrist. He is a capoeira master. The doctor told him that it had been permanently damaged and would need surgery. I gave him some comfrey leaves from the garden and told him to wrap his wrist up in a bandage with the fresh comfrey leaves against his skin. He did this for two days. I saw him a long time after this and he said his wrist was cured and now he travels with his comfrey plants and tells everyone he knows.

Comfrey has been used internally for thousands of years, there is much debate about its safety in this regard today.  It is best to see a professional naturopath or homeopath if you need comfrey for internal use.  As there is no danger of using it externally I concentrate on using it this way as a home remedy.

Comfrey is an essential plant for your organic garden and is easy to grow

Growing comfrey is very easy and there is plenty of information out there on this subject, just keep in mind that it is such an easy plant to grow that is can become a weed in some places. A weed is really just a plant growing where you don’t want it to grow. Personally I could never get enough of it for the garden and for home-made remedies.

Why don’t you have a go making your own ointment, you can experiment with your own oils, fragrances and consistencies.Here is a simple recipe for a home made comfrey salve.

Comfrey Ointment

To make an ointment to use externally, take 1 cup of finely cut comfrey root and simmer in 1 cup of olive oil until it starts to soften. Cool and strain. Add 50g of beeswax (usually available from supermarkets). Jasmine or orange blossoms may be added to the simmering mixture, to give the cream a pleasant smell. The cream is used to relieve pain and aid healing of cuts, bites, sprains, arthritis, dry vaginal conditions, inflammation and neuralgia. Another recipe for bags and wrinkles under the eye. The ingredients are the same, the method slightly different.

Comfrey eye cream

Half cup fresh comfrey roots and leaves
¼ cup beeswax
½ cup extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil

Cut up the comfrey roots and leaves, using only clean fresh plant parts without mildew, mould or fungus. Warm the oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Do not boil or scorch the oil. Add the comfrey root and leaf pieces to the saucepan and stir constantly over low to medium heat for 50 minutes. Do not boil or scorch the comfrey pieces. Remove the oil from the heat and set aside to cool. Melt the bees wax in a pan inside a larger pan filled with water and heated. Do not get water in the wax. Remove from heat when melted.Strain the comfrey plant parts from the warmed oil and discard. Blend the melted bees wax and warmed herbal oil in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy, adding a few drops of essential oil for light fragrance. Spoon fresh comfrey eye cream into cosmetic jars and seal jars with lids. Label the jars with the name of the product and the date it was made. Store eye cream jars in the refrigerator or in a cool, dry place out of sunlight. Eye cream keeps for a couple of months in the refrigerator and in cool, dark conditions.
Tip: Make larger batches for gift-giving by using 1 lb. of bees wax, 2 cups of oil and 2 cups of cut up comfrey pieces in the recipe. A comfrey tincture can be made to add to the ointment by steeping comfrey roots in 100% rum and leaving for a few months. Experiment and come up with your own Magic Family Healing Cream.

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