Disclaimer: The following information has not been approved by the FDA. This information should not be interpreted as medical advice and is not a substitute for a visit with a medical care professional. Always speak to your doctor about any health concerns.
“It does not seem to matter which part of the body is broken, either internally or externally; comfrey will heal it quickly. It is a great cell proliferant or new cell grower, it grows new flesh and bone alike, stops hemorrhage, and is wonderful for healing inflamed tissues in a most remarkable manner.” – Dr. Edward Shook
Comfrey’s use in traditional Chinese medicine can be traced back 2,000 years. In Japan, it’s been an honored medicinal herb called ‘knitbone’, and was used to treat muscle sprains, bruises, burns, and joint pain. For hundreds of years, this herb has been a staple in the satchels and homes of European herbal healers, Native American healers, and Chinese medicine practitioners. Its gentle, restorative powers have made it one of the most widely loved plants in the world.
So, what makes comfrey such a powerful healer?
Benefits and Uses of Comfrey Salve
The healing power of comfrey comes from allantoin and rosmarinic acid. Allantoin boosts the growth of new skin cells, and rosmarinic acid soothes pain and inflammation. Combined, these two substances are enormously helpful in speeding up healing for all of normal household bumps, bruises, and cuts. It’s one of the best tools to keep in your home medicine cabinet — especially if you’ve got kids!
When to Use Comfrey Salve
- Burns: Comfrey can soothe the pain and discomfort of burns while encouraging new growth of skin cells to speed up the recovery process. Apply a thin layer of comfrey cream or comfrey salve evenly over the burned skin. For sunburn, cover the area with a lightweight garment. For burns, cover with a gauze pad. Apply again 3-6 times per day until healed. *Do not use this on severe or third-degree burns. Contact a medical professional.
- Wounds, Cuts, Abrasions: One of the earmarks of childhood summer seems to be an almost innumerable amount of scrapes and cuts. Of course, it’s not only the kids that have a monopoly on injuries. Comfrey cream is one of the best go-to wound healing ointments around. Apply the ointment or cream several times per day to speed up healing. *DO NOT use comfrey externally on new puncture wounds or deep cuts as the outer skin layers will be stimulated to close up and heal prior to the draining and regeneration of deeper tissues. Seek medical help.
- Stings and Bites: Comfrey is a perfect antidote to soothing swollen insect stings, and to ease the itching of mosquito or spider bites. The rosmarinic acid will ease the swelling and quickly reduce the pain of insect encounters. * If you are having an allergic response to a bite or sting, seek medical attention immediately.
- Bruises: Been in an accident or have a painful bruise restricting your movement? Or perhaps you just want to get rid of some unsightly bruises before attending an event. Either way, comfrey ointment can help to speed up healing and relieve pain. Apply several times per day, as needed, until the bruising goes away. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the bruising fades with regular application.
- Muscle Strains and Pain: Comfrey is essential in the natural medicine cabinet of all athletes. This herb soothes and eases sore muscles post-workout and strained muscles and ligaments post-injury. It encourages the regeneration of damaged tissues and relieves inflammation and discomfort. Apply comfrey cream or ointment three to four times per day.
- Sprains and Swellings: The allantoin and rosmarinic acid in comfrey are the perfect pair to heal sprained wrists and ankles. They will help to ease pain and encourage quick healing by stimulating new cell growth. If you are able, soak the injured area in a warm, strong infusion, or tea, of comfrey. Do this four times per day. Apply cream or ointment between soakings.
- Broken or Fractured Bones: Comfrey won’t magically repair broken bones, but it can help to speed up healing and relieve some of the discomfort along the way. (If the broken bone is in a cast, you won’t be able to apply balm to the affected area.) For minor breaks or those cannot be put into a cast, comfrey cream will be a helpful aid. Apply twice daily to the area. For breaks that require a cast, apply the comfrey balm to the exposed areas on either side of the cast. The body will absorb the healing and pain-relieving properties of the comfrey, drawing it to the break. *Never put any substance inside your cast, including balms and oils.
- Rashes: Comfrey ointment can soothe rashes caused by allergies and viruses, and may even be used to help clear up stubborn diaper rashes.
- Arthritis and Joint Pain: Comfrey can be a helpful massage salve to ease the pain of arthritis and joint inflammation. We suggest it is best paired with a CBD extract salve. CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving, while comfrey is packed with the nutrients that encourage healing and cell regeneration.
*In all uses, comfrey should NOT be considered a replacement for medical treatment in the event of a severe injury, allergic response, burn, etc. Always seek advice from your medical provider. Do not use during pregnancy or while nursing.
The Comfrey Controversy — Internal Use
In years past, comfrey was used to treat internal ailments as well as the external ones. It was relied on as a treatment for stomach problems, such as ulcers and diarrhea, and was even prescribed for heavy menstrual bleeding, bloody urine, persistent cough, and cancer.
But in the 1970’s, comfrey’s history as a revered herbal medicine was challenged by reports that it contained pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). The assertion was that these PAs could, over time, cause liver damage and possibly cancer. At the time, herbalists argued that the studies showing these concerning issues were from studies that had isolated the PAs in comfrey and then fed or injected them into animals in far larger doses than could possibly be taken internally.
The FDA has since made comfrey illegal for internal use but, recognizing its value externally, continues to allow its inclusion in external preparations. In the United States, comfrey is only sold in creams and ointments.
Where to Buy Comfrey in Madison
Our Madison supplement stores carry comfrey cream, salve, and ointment. (All essentially the same, except using a different carrier method.) It’s something that we’d say every natural medicine cabinet should have.
If you have any questions about using comfrey to heal an injury, or about any other product or health issue, the Wellness Consultants at The Healthy Place are here to help you out. Contact us with any questions, or stop in our stores. We’re here to help you “Find Your Healthy Place”!
Wanna DIY? Make Your Own Poultice
Want to try your hand at making your own herbal remedy? Here’s a recipe for a comfrey poultice.
Comfrey Poultice Recipe
Pour 1 1/2 cups boiling water over one ounce of cut comfrey herb. Cover!
Let steep for 15-20 minutes.
Soak a natural fiber cloth in the liquid and lightly wring it out. You want it wet but not dripping. This should be used as warm as possible.
Apply the cloth to the injured area. Cover with plastic wrap and hold in place with an ace bandage. Keep in place until the cloth has dried.
This can be applied multiple times throughout the day.
Store the remaining herbal liquid in a tightly covered glass jar in the refrigerator. Can be stored for 24 hours. Warm before using.
Cech, Richo. Making Plant Medicine Medicine. Horizon Herbs, Williams, OR, 2000.
Christopher, Dr. John R. School of Natural Healing Herbal Reference Guide. Springville, UT: Christopher Publications, 1976.
Ellis, Sandra K. Livingston, M.H. Dr. Mom’s Healthy Living. Christopher Publications, Springville, UT, 2009.
Low Dog, Tieraona, M.D. Healthy at Home. National Geographic, Washington, D.C., 2014.
*Disclaimer: All information and recommendations given on this site, in email correspondence, newsletters or other materials provided by The Healthy Place is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice nor be viewed as a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a healthcare provider. Consult a licensed healthcare practitioner before modifying, stopping, or starting the use of any medications, health programs, diets, and/or supplements, as well as regarding any health concerns you may have. Our statements and information have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. As with any health-related program, product, or service, your risks and results may vary. We expressly disclaim responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or damage caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the information provided to you here.”
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