Comfrey is from the Latin word conferta, meaning "to grow together"; Symphytum has the same meaning in Greek. Comfrey is so named because it is used as a herbal remedy to knit bones, mend lacerations, and heal wounds. Typically applied to the skin, comfrey can be a valuable healing tool.
Uses of Comfrey
Comfrey has been found to cause cells to divide at an increased rate, thus healing bones and wounds more quickly. Comfrey may be used topically -- as a salve or poultice -- on cuts, bruises, abrasions, and burns. Comfrey should never be taken internally. Most health regulatory agencies in the Western world have banned the internal use of comfrey due to the pyrrolizidine alkaloids found in this plant, which are known to harm the livers of animals fed diets consisting largely of comfrey leaves. Other pyrrolizidine alkaloid-containing weeds have caused epidemics of poisoning in Third World countries when they contaminated grain supplies.
Comfrey Preparations and Dosage
Use comfrey roots for topical teas and salves. You also can use the raw root topically. While teas are easy to prepare, comfrey is a bit tricky to make into homemade salves; it tends to mold. Apply cold grated comfrey root or a cloth soaked in cool comfrey tea to sunburns or other minor burns. Apply comfrey poultices to wounds.
To create comfrey oil,lean fresh comfrey roots with a scrub brush under running water. Place the roots in a blender or food processor with olive oil to cover, and grind as fine as possible. Transfer to a large glass jar and allow to soak for several weeks before straining. Filter through a wire mesh strainer with cheesecloth or in a coffee filter. Use as a compress or poultice.
Comfrey Precautions and Warnings
Do not use comfrey internally. Comfrey is safe to use topically, even on infants, the elderly, or pregnant women.
Side Effects of Comfrey
Liver damage has been reported with internal use.
To learn more about treating common medical conditions at home, try the following links:
- For an overview of all of our herbal remedies, go to the main Herbal Remedies page.
- To learn more about treating medical conditions at home, visit our main Home Remedies page.
- One of the best things you can do for your health and well being is to make sure you are getting enough of the vital nutrients your body needs. Visit our Vitamins page to learn more.
Jennifer Brett, N.D. is director of the Acupuncture Institute for the University of Bridgeport, where she also serves on the faculty for the College of Naturopathic Medicine. A recognized leader in her field with an extensive background in treating a wide variety of disorders utilizing nutritional and botanical remedies, Dr. Brett has appeared on WABC TV (NYC) and on Good Morning America to discuss utilizing herbs for health.This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.