Comfrey has a long history of effectiveness as a healer plant. It has the reputation of being able to knit bones together thus accounting for many of the common names (boneset, nipbone, knitbone, and healing herb).
Comfrey leaves are similar to Foxglove leaves, though they have smaller veins not extending into the wings of the leaf-stalk. The leafy stem, 2 to 3 feet high, is stout, angular and hollow, broadly winged at the top and covered with bristly hairs. The lower, radical leaves are very large, up to 10 inches long and covered with rough hairs which make people itch when they touch them. The flowers are either creamy yellow or purple, growing on short stalks. They appear in April or early May.
Comfrey is a contact healer and is best known for tissue healing. In fact, until the early 1800’s, it was only used externally as treatment of cuts, burns, skin ulcers, varicose veins, bronchitis, and rheumatism. The leaf has been tea that is gargled or used as a mouthwash to relieve throat infections, hoarseness, and bleeding gums. One reason for its effectiveness is its abundance of calcium and vitamin C and contains carotene (vitamin A), B12, and chlorophyll.
Internally and externally comfrey is used in the treatment of colitis, varicose veins, assorted pulmonary complaints (pleurisy, bronchitis, bronchopneumonia), rheumatism, metritis, diarrhea, and periostitis. It is utilized as a diuretic and bulk laxative and is credited with scar healing. It is also used as a sedative.
Comfrey is effective as a healer because it contains Allantoin. This is able to help grow new flesh and bone cells and accelerate the healing process. It also reduces the inflammation of pulled tendons. An extract can be used for acne and athletes foot. It is also used for certain female problems. Comfrey tea and extract has been used as a douche for yeast infections. Poultices applied to sore and caked breasts, helps the tenderness leave very quickly.
Comfrey leaves and shoots are also used as a vegetable and are often ground up in a blender or some other type of mechanical device to form the basis of “green drinks” which have become increasingly popular among health conscious individuals.
A modern medicinal tincture, employed by homoeopaths, is made from the root with spirits of wine, and 10 drops in a tablespoonful of water are administered several times a day. Internally, the leaves are taken in the form of an infusion, 1 oz. of the leaves to 1 pint of boiling water.
Many claim that comfrey is so safe that anyone can use as much as they want any time. However, a few precautions are in order. Care should be taken when using Comfrey with very deep wounds as its rapid healing power can lead to tissue forming over the wound before it is healed deeper down, possibly leading to abscesses. Make sure that wounds are thoroughly cleaned and protected from infection.