Habitat & Cultivation : Comfrey, an indigenous European plant, is found in various temperate regions globally, including western Asia, North America, and Australia. It particularly thrives in moist and marshy locations. The cultivation of comfrey can be done from seed in the spring or through root division in the autumn. Harvesting is typically carried out in the summer, collecting the leaves and flowering tops, while the root is unearthed in the autumn.
- Allantoin (up to 4.7%)
- Mucilage (about 29%)
- Phenolic acids (rosmarinic acid)
- Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (0.02-0.07%)
- Heals wounds and bones
- Active constituents : Allantoin, found in comfrey, serves as a cell-proliferant, actively promoting the repair of damaged tissue. The herb’s anti-inflammatory properties are attributed, in part, to the presence of compounds such as rosmarinic acid and phenolic acids.
- Pyrrolizidine alkaloids : Research indicates that certain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, when isolated, can be highly toxic to the liver. However, it remains unclear whether these alkaloids pose a toxic risk in the context of the whole comfrey plant, as they are often present in minute amounts and may be completely absent from dried aerial parts. The highest concentration of pyrrolizidine alkaloids is typically found in the root, and internal use of the root is not recommended due to potential toxicity. Conversely, skin applications and the use of the aerial parts of the plant are generally considered safe.
- Clinical research : Comfrey is extensively used in Germany and other parts of Europe for treating sprains, bruises, and sports injuries. Research, particularly in Germany, supports the traditional knowledge of comfrey’s ability to aid in wound healing. A 2007 study evaluated the efficacy of a comfrey leaf cream in healing abrasions. Physicians participating in the study rated the cream’s effectiveness as good or very good in 93% of cases, and complete healing occurred in 4 days with comfrey compared to 7 days with a placebo. Other studies also indicate comfrey’s value in promoting tissue repair and its anti-inflammatory properties, making it beneficial in conditions such as sprained ankles, osteoarthritis, and lower back pain.
Traditional & Current Uses
- Injuries : Comfrey has been recognized for thousands of years for its remarkable ability to facilitate the healing of bruises, sprains, fractures, and broken bones. It actively encourages the firm knitting together of ligaments and bones. The immediate application of a comfrey compress to a sprained ankle, for example, has been observed to significantly reduce the severity of the injury. The combination of tannins and mucilage in comfrey contributes to soothing bruises and grazes, further highlighting its historical efficacy in promoting healing.
- Other uses : Indeed, comfrey preparations have a versatile range of applications and can be utilized to address various issues such as insect bites, scars, skin inflammation, acne, and mastitis. The herb’s properties, including its ability to promote tissue repair and reduce inflammation, make it a valuable resource for addressing different skin-related concerns.