InformAfrica – This article is about Comfrey uses. The medicinal benefits of Comfrey Plant, a powerful herb for wounds, muscular pain, bones, and many dermatological conditions. It is a bone and flesh builder.
If you haven’t heard about Comfrey herb before, it’s scientific name is Symphytum or Symphytum officinale. The plant’s scientific name “Symphytum” is said to have been derived from Greek and it means “to unite“. Meanwhile, its common name “Comfrey” comes from the Latin word confima, meaning “to be made firm.”
Both Symphytum and Comfrey refer to the plant’s ability to aid in the meddling of bones and the healing of abrasions, wounds, scrapes, burns, etc.
Comfrey plant contains substances that help skin regenerate, including allantoin, rosmarinic acid, and tannins. It also contains poisonous compounds called pyrrolizidine alkaloids.
The comfrey plant is typically found growing wild throughout Asia and some parts of Africa. Its use in Chinese traditional medicine spans over 2000 years. The miraculous plant is also cultivated in various parts of Europe and North America, and is easily grown in home gardens.
Comfrey Uses & Health Benefits
The traditional therapeutic actions of comfrey include demulcent (soothes mucous membranes), cell proliferant, pectoral (relieves disorders of the chest and lung), astringent, nutritive, tonic, expectorant, hemostatic, alterative (promotes a beneficial change in the body), vulnerary (heals fresh cuts and wounds), mucilage and styptic (arrests hemorrhage and bleeding). These claims have been backed by thousands of years of successful, albeit anecdotal evidence.
Comfrey’s leaves or roots can be applied as a poultice, wash or ointment and 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. It can be added to bath water to promote a youthful skin. Its emollient effects are very soothing, inhibiting further damage to tissues, stimulating the production of cartilage, tendons and muscles. It is highly regarded as a blood, bone and flesh builder.
Internally, comfrey has been used for indigestion, stomach and bowel problems, excessive menstrual flow, hoarseness, periodontal diseases, bleeding gums, thyroid disorders, diarrhea, gastro-intestinal ulcers, hernia, glandular fever, coughs, lung conditions, hemorrhaging, cancer, catarrh, anemia, sinusitis, lupus, lowering blood pressure, hiatal hernia, blood purifier and to ease inflammation of the joints and mucous membranes. (Note: There are reports that internal use of Comfrey is linked to liver damage)
Information gathered from University of Maryland Medical Center state that comfrey was used in the past to treat stomach problems, but not anymore. It is said that the herb contains dangerous substances called pyrrolizidine alkaloids that are very toxic to the liver and can cause death. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration no longer allows any oral comfrey products to be sold in the U.S. The United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Germany also have banned the sale of oral products containing comfrey.
Comfrey Side Effects & Precautions
Information gathered from several health websites says Comfrey is not recommended for internal use due to its side effects. The major side effect of using comfrey internally is liver damage. The herb is not recommended for pregnant women at all i.e., do not use comfrey while pregnant. There are also precautions that comfrey should not be applied to broken or abraided skin.
Comfrey was widely used and recommended until the mid-1980s, when reports began to surface about the possibility of liver damage from the level of pyrrolizidine alkaloids some species of the plant contain.
In 2001, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) combined to issue an injunction against products containing comfrey that were meant for internal use. This view has been countered by herbalists, who state that common comfrey, the plant most often used for medicinal purposes, contains only negligible amounts of those alkaloids.
In fact, one laboratory study of three different sources of comfrey found no pyrrolizidine in one sample, and only negligible amounts in the other two. Still, many herbalists recommend that comfrey preparations should not be taken internally because of the possibility of liver disease and damage. As mentioned earlier, comfrey should also not be used by pregnant or nursing women.
This health article is filed under: Africa Information and Health.
Herbal Legacy (For medicinal use of Comfrey)
Mountain Rose Herbs (For Comfrey precautions)
University of Maryland Medical Center (For what Comfrey contains and liver warning)