(Natural Herbs) Comfrey

| September 11, 2012 | 0 Comments | 13 views

Comfrey Scientific Names and Common Names,Comfrey Biochemical Information,Uses,Warning,Where Found,Parts Usually Used,Comfrey Description of Plant(s) and Culture,Medicinal Properties.

(Natural Herbs) Comfrey

Contents:

Common Names | Parts Usually Used | Plant(s) & Culture | Where Found | Medicinal Properties | Biochemical Information
Legends, Myths and Stories | Uses | Formulas or Dosages | Nutrient Content | How Sold | Warning | Bibliography

Scientific Names

Symphytum officinale L.BoraginaceaeBorage family

Common Names

All-heal
Ass ear
Blackwort
Bruisewort
Gum plant
Healing herb
Knitback
Knitbone
Nipbone
Salsify
Slippery root
Wallwort
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Parts Usually Used

Leaves and root
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Comfrey is a perennial plant 1-3 feet tall; the large rootstock is black outside, fleshy and whitish inside, and contains a glutinous juice. The angular, hairy stem bears bristly, oblong lanceolate leaves, some petioled, some sessile. There are also tongue-shaped, fuzzy, basal leaves that generally lie on the ground. The whitish, pink, or pale purple bell-like flowers have a tubular corolla resembling the finger of a glove and grow in forked racemes from May to August. Full sun or partial shade. Zones 5-9.
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Where Found

Moist meadows, ditches, and other moist places in the United States and Europe.
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Medicinal Properties

Anodyne, astringent, demulcent, emollient, expectorant, hemostatic, refrigerant, tonic, vulnerary
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Biochemical Information

Allantoin (mainly flowering tops), consolidine, inulin, mucilage, alkaloids (mainly root), steroidal saponins, phosphorus, potassium, pyrroliziidine, starch, tannins, and vitamins A, B12, C, and E.
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Legends, Myths and Stories

There are 25 species of comfrey used in most herb books, a number of the 25 species are cultivated in American gardens. Comfrey is native to Europe, Asia Minor, Siberia and Iran.

The country name for comfrey was knitbone, a reminder of its traditional use in healing fractures. The herb contains allantoin, which encourages bone, cartilage, and muscle cells to grow. When the crushed herb is applied to an injured limb, the allantoin is absorbed through the skin and speeds up healing. In the past, comfrey baths were popular before marriage to repair the hymen and thus “restore virginity.”

Comfrey was extremely popular in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, but studies showing toxic pyrroliziidine alkaloids, especially in the root, have tempered the enthusiasm for comfrey. Recent studies show that leaves harvested during the blooming period (May to September) are very low in alkaloid content. Suspected carcinogen.

Comfrey contains allantoin, a substance that helps stimulate the growth of new cells and is now used in many cosmetic products. Commercially prepared comfrey creams and ointments are useful for all kinds of skin irritations, including chafing and bug bites. Today, we are more cautious about taking comfrey internally, because it contains pyrroliziidine alkaloids, compounds known to cause liver disease if taken over a long period of time. The FDA is investigating pyrroliziidine alkaloid levels in domestic comfrey. There are other safer herbs that can be used in its place, such as peppermint, balm, and ginger.

Comfrey was known to the Crusaders as a wound herb, since it is unrivaled in repairing broken bones and battered bodies.

The book Old Ways Discovered states, “The mucilaginous root is employed by colormakers; it is also employed to correct the brittleness of flax and the roughness of wool in spinning. It is said that a decoction of the root is of great importance in the process of tanning.”
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Uses

Acts as a blood cleanser. Beneficial for asthma, coughs, catarrh, flu, ulcers, swelling, varicose veins, perineal tears, diaper rash, cradle cap, cramps, tuberculosis, pain, and burns. Also good for the stomach, kidneys, bowels, and lungs.

A decoction of the rootstock makes a good gargle and mouthwash for throat inflammation, hoarseness, and bleeding gums. Drink it to take care of most digestive and stomach problems, for intestinal difficulties, anemia, scrofula, pimples, for excessive menstrual flow, heal broken bones, and to stop spitting blood. Powdered rootstock can also be taken internally for bloody urine (hematuria), leukorrhea, diarrhea, gastro-intestinal ulcers, gout, dysentery and persistent coughs. Externally, use the powder as a hemostatic agent, and make a poultice for wounds, boils, abscesses, wounds that refuse to heal, leg ulcers, bruises, sores, broken bones, sprains, and insect bites. The hot pulp of the rootstock makes a good external application for bronchitis, pneumonia, coughs, pleurisy, and for the pain, and inflammation of pulled tendons. Add the rootstock to the bath water regularly for a more youthful skin.

Makes an excellent liquid fertilizer for garden and houseplants (allow leaves to decompose in a container of water). Add to the compost pile; use only wilted leaves, however, so they do not take root in the compost pile.
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Formulas or Dosages

Decoction: boil 2 tsp. rootstock in 1 cup water or wine. Take a wineglassful or a teacupful 2-3 times a day.

Infusion: use 2 tsp. rootstock per 1/2 cup water. Take 1-2 cups per day, warm, a mouthful at a time. Internal application of tea is not advisable.

Tincture: take 1/2 to 1 tsp. at a time.

Cold extract tea: use 3 heaping tsp. fresh or dried rootstock with 1 cup water; let stand for 10 hours and strain. Bring the soaked rootstock to a boil in 1/2 cup water, then strain. ix this with the cold extract and drink a mouthful at a time over the course of the day.

Pulp: stir fresh, chopped rootstock into a little hot water to form a thick mash. Spread on a linen cloth and apply. Renew every 2-4 hours.
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Nutrient Content

Phosphorus, potassium, vitamins A, C, and E.
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How Sold

Capsules: take 1 or 2 capsules daily for 1 or 2 weeks, then take a week’s rest.

Creams and ointments
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Warning

Avoid use on dirty wounds, because rapid healing can trap dirt or pus.

Some comfrey salves on the market specifically recommend use by nursing mothers with chafed nipples. Since comfrey should not be ingested by infants, consult the doctor before use of these products.

Root use discouraged due to high levels of liver-toxic (or cancer-causing) pyrroliziidine alkaloids. Leaf tea (at least some types), although less carcinogenic than beer, has been banned in Canada. There is also a danger that the leaves of Comfrey may be confused with the first-year rosettes of Foxglove (Digitalis), with fatal results. Consult an expert on identification first. Use is restricted in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Germany.

Avoid use of comfrey with edema, obesity, or malabsorption.

Use only under careful medical supervision. Do not use for longer than 3 months at a time. May cause liver damage.

Comfrey should not be given to small children, infants, or pregnant women.
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Bibliography

, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, published from 1954, print 1988

, by Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., Simon & Schuster/Fireside, Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

Herbal Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, Cornell Plantations, Matthaei Botanical Gardens of the University of Michigan, University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley., Pantheon Books, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 1994, first edition

, by David Conway, published by Jonathan Cape, Thirty Bedford Square, London, England. (Out of print)

, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

, by James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C., Avery Publishing Group, Inc., Garden City Park, NY

, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023, 1984

, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Co. (1988).

, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

, edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

, by Mannfried Pahlow, Barron's Educational Series, Inc. 250 Wireless Blvd., Hauppauge, NY 11788, 1992

, Meredith Books, Editorial Dept. RW240, 1716 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309-3023, copyright 1994

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Category: Herbs

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