Comfrey (common)

Symphytum officinale

Common comfrey

Also called true comfrey, quaker comfrey, boneset, knitbone, consound and slippery-root.

The story…

Comfrey is native to Europe and Western Asia (Turkey, Caucasus, Georgia, Iran). It has been propagated along the main merchant and pilgrimage roads, and has later travelled to the United States, where it is appreciated for its therapeutic and decorative characteristics. It can be found in large colonies in moist places (moist meadows, ditches and by the water), often next to living areas. Its common names reflect its cicatrizing and bone-consolidating properties.

Uses

Cicatrizing and tissue regeneration

Comfrey is calcium, potassium, phosphorus, silica and iron-rich, and also contains allantoin (which is used in many cosmetic products and helps the development of new skin and muscle cells). It accelerates the repairing of a broken or cracked bone and of the cartilage, and prevents inflammations. Apply as a cataplasm.

For sprains and pulled muscles or ligaments, apply as a cataplasm twice a day during a few days or until relief. Comfrey also helps surface wounds (cracked skin or lips, scratches, insect bites) to heal.

Preparation

Cataplasm of fresh leaves or roots: pound with some warm water to make a paste. Roots are easier to use because they contain more mucilage et don’t have irritant hair. If you don’t have access to the fresh plant, use dry leaves or roots: chop finely, moisturize, and then macerate in some warm water to be able to pound them.

Precautions

In case of a broken bone, always go to a hospital in the first place (if not, the bone could start to heal without having been properly reset); comfrey can be used later, as a complement. For a deep cut, wait until the deeper tissues are healed, so that the superficial layers don’t heal first. In case of persistent symptoms or if you have any doubts, consult a doctor. 

Common comfrey

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