Are You Growing Comfrey, the 'Cure-All' Herb?

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comfrey

Comfrey is a perennial plant with fuzzy, teardrop shaped leaves. It belongs to the borage family, and often grows as a weed in many climates. The blossoms on the plant are a pretty blue or purple cluster of bells that eventually fade to white before forming seed heads. This hardy plant is not only a beneficial cover crop for your garden or orchard, but also contains many medicinal healing properties that have been utilized for centuries.

Medicinal Uses

Folk medicine gave comfrey the name knit-bone due to its incredible ability to speed up cell growth, thus aiding bone repair and healing. Comfrey has also traditionally been used to treat uterine hemorrhages and for healing of wounds. Comfrey contains allantoin, which helps cell formation, alongside potassium, rosmarinic acid and tannins, which reduce inflammation and promote skin health.

Harvesting & Storage

Comfrey roots grown relatively deep, but even cut roots can be used medicinally. Make sure to completely dry the leaves before crushing and storing them, otherwise remaining dampness can cause mold. Roots should be used right after harvest or dried in a dehydrator.

Preparation

You can prepare an infusion of comfrey from fresh or dried leaves that can be used on scabs, sores, itchy and scaly skin. Do this by steeping the leaves in hot water for at least an hour, until you end up with a dark green liquid. You can even boil the liquid down until you end up with more of a syrup. Comfrey is also prepared as a poultice, by crushing the fresh leaves into a paste. You can use dried leaves by soaking them in warm water, crushing them and wrapping them in a warm cloth. The paste can be applied to swollen skin, burns, rashes and sores, and even the skin over broken bones. You can also find prepared ointments, creams, and salves commercially that contain comfrey in higher or smaller dosages.

Warnings

Comfrey should not be ingested raw as it contains compounds that can be toxic and cause liver damage. However, these toxins can be absorbed by the skin, which is why raw comfrey poultices can be used topically. Pregnant women or those suffering from alcoholism or liver disease should not use comfrey in any form.

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