Comfrey – Homestead Medicine

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is a wonder plant. Also known as Boneset, or Knitbone, is was often used for (you guest it) helping to heal broken bones, sprains and strains. However, as both a poultice and internally, comfrey has many more uses. It even has a surprising non-medicinal use in your garden.

Medicinal Actions

  • Vulnerary and Astringent
    • Healing and cleansing
    • Useful in the healing of minor wounds, both internal and external.
    • Minor injuries of the skin
    • Increase cell production, causing wounds to heal more rapidly.
    • Used for stomach and duodenal ulcers
  • Demulcent
    • Producing a mucilage that coats and soothes irritated tissues
    • Helps reduce inflammation, and at the same time lessen scarring.
  • Expectorant
    • Has a relaxing effect on the respiratory membranes.
    • Useful in coughs, asthma, and bronchitis.

Visit the Herbal Glossary for more info.

Medicinal Preparations

Comfrey can be used in many different ways, and added to multiple varieties of herbal preparations.

  • Oil infusions
    • Soak fresh or dried herb in oil for several weeks in warm dark place.
    • Used for dry cracked skin as is or as an additive for homemade lotions and soaps.
    • Used for beneficial soaps
    • Used to create healing salves
  • Tinctures
    • Soak fresh or dried herb in 50 proof alcohol (vodka or rum) in dark place.
    • Add to teas or honey for internal uses.
    • Used directly on skin.
  • Teas (Strong) or Infusions
    • 1–2 teaspoons of the dried leaves to 1 cup of boiling water poured over leaves and steep for 5-10 minutes.
    • Strain
    • Drink 4 times daily.
      • Used to heal ulcers or other internal sores.
      • Soothing for coughs, asthma, and bronchial infections.
      • Used as a wash
  • Fresh
    • Bruised leaves applied directly to skin
    • Clean crushed root applied to minor wound
    • Both can be used on minor burns
  • Root Decoction
    • 1 tsp dried root to 1 cup water and simmered for 5 minutes.
    • Strain
    • Drink 4 times daily.

Parts to Use

  • Both leaves and root are used medicinally
    • Root is a bit more potent and mucilaginous than the leaves.
    • Leaves can be gathered any time during growing season
      • Best time for a leaf harvest is during flowering
    • Bundle the leaves in very small hatches
    • hang upside down out of the sun with good air circulation.
    • Check daily for mold or black leaves.

Other uses

  • Compost
    • Add chopped leaves to compost pile to aid in nitrogen production
    • Make “compost tea” and dilute 14:1 for use directly on garden soil
      • Submerge leaves in water for several weeks until liquid turns dark and thick.
  • Mulch
    • Leaves used as mulch directly in gardens and allow to decompose on garden beds.
    • Be careful to ONLY use leaves as stems and roots will sprout new plants.

Please keep in mind that comfrey can be invasive. It is a very hardy plant that can grow from seed and from root and stem clippings. For this reason many people will grow them in pots or 5 gallon buckets.

It grows from Zone 4-10 (others said 3-9), so again it is extremely hardy.

I hope to find a nice place away from the main garden to plant things like this and jerusalem artichoke, etc. 🙂

Resources:

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

If you have any recipes using comfrey or tips and tricks for uses, let me know in the comments below.

 

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