>Comfrey a.k.a. Knitbone, Boneset, Symphytum Officinale ~"plaster cast"

>If you know your herbs, this is one you will not have ignored. God in His wisdom created for His Creation (us) this herb for those times we break something. He knew we would do it, so He provided rightly for such occasions. As so many of the herbs growing He planted them for us because we need them. Toward the end of this post I show pics of using the root for a “plaster” cast on a broken bone, so scroll down if you want to skip the details following. 

All the pictures in this post are of my comfrey, so you know I know it is the real thing. I make tinctures & tea for internal use from my own comfrey as well. The root used in the pictures in this post for external use are from my own plants.

Time & science has tried to develop something better. But sometimes we have to get back to the simple things in this life and that is where Comfrey comes into the picture.

Our experiences with comfrey have been many~

Our dog was run over and suffered a fractured hip. We shaved her & took the leaves of the comfrey, put hot water over them & while still warm applied them to her hip. She could not move so she did not try to get away from it. Within days she was on the mend. We were amazed, as was the vet. Our dog was almost 14 at the time so she impressed all who had seen her. 

I make comfrey leaf tincture using an alcohol base to draw out the healing properties as only alcohol can remove from any herb all of the healing properties. Alcohol tinctures are the only way to take the herb into the liver to utilize the benefits of the herb being taken. I keep a pump bottle of comfrey near my bed & if I get a sore throat, I will pump a few into my mouth and swish around which usually gives me some relief. Does not heal it, but gives the comfort sought. 

 How to know when you have comfrey and not the poisonous foxglove. Did I say foxglove is poisonous~YES….know your herbs. You can purchase comfrey, and for those near me, I always have a pot of comfrey for sale. I have $9.00 pots & $13.00 pots for sale. If you bring your own dirt & your own pot, I will take off a dollar. The one drawback is you cannot take from the root until the second year of your established plant. It can kill your plant & if you spend money & time, you won’t want to let that happen. However, you can take the leaves in the first year & use for tea or poultice, creams or salves. Which I also make from my comfrey. I sell them as well if you are needing some. Creams or salves are great for sores. I did not say wounds because there is one key when using comfrey. 
*****It heals so fast, that if you have not cleaned a wound thoroughly & you seal it with comfrey, you can seal in the bad stuff & get bad outcomes***
So caution is necessary & only you know if you have cleaned it well enough or not…

Uses: Leaves: Wounds 
Roots: Diarrhea, Intestines (problems) 
External: Boils, Bruises, Burns, Gout, Psoriasis, Sprains 
    Leaves: Abscesses, Boils, Bruises, Cuts, Fractures, Sprains, Swellings, Ulcers (gangrenous), Wounds 
  Internal: Alterative, Anemia, Arthritis, Asthma, Bleeding (internal), Bronchitis, Calcium deficiency, Colitis, Coughs, Diarrhea, Dysentery, Emphysema, Gall bladder (inflamed), Inflammations 
  Pets: Same uses as for humans, as well as in salves for balding, dry, itchy, , or other irritated patches 
Contains: Vit. A, Vit. B12, Vit. C, Vit. E, Beta-carotene, Calcium, Cobalt, Copper, Germanium, Iron, Magnesium, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium, Protein, Silica, Sulphur, Zinc, 18 Amino acids (including hysine), Allantoin (aids cell growth),Pyrrolizidine alkaloids ((harms liver!) Generally found in Symphytum uplandicum syn. S. uplanicum, but both (S. officinale and S. uplanicum) are used interchangeably in the United States) 
    Leaves: Allantoin, Vit. C 
    Roots: Mucilage, Allantoin (more than twice as much as the leaves!), Tannic acid (a little), Starch (a little) 

~So you noticed the above bold words saying it harms liver. The research is on long term use. My Chiropractor/Nutritionist gave this advice: Two weeks on & two weeks off. That means, if you are taking it for a condition that is serious, requiring long term use,  take a break in between. And, did you know that every pharmaceutical pain reliever also harms your liver! The myriad of “safe” drugs out there also harm your liver! So, I am not in the least bit worried about the comfrey causing harm to my liver or I would not take it. God created it for His creation & I will trust it before I will ever trust a pharmaceutical. My ten cents worth~ Here is another view on this subject:

There’s an ongoing debate as to whether or not comfrey can be safely consumed, even by animals. There is apparently some level of toxicity for the liver,(from the root) both in humans and in animals. Some studies suggest that a toxic dosage would only be reached after consuming huge quantities of the leaf or root. Comfrey is very widely used in Japan as an animal fodder, without any ill effects, evidently. And I have spoken to several homesteaders who regularly give small quantities of comfrey leaf to their chicken or duck flocks and even to pigs. Chickens absolutely relish the stuff. Since comfrey leaves are very high in protein, this isn’t surprising. I never observed any detrimental effect on the hens after feeding them comfrey leaves. 

To add to the above….think on this…an animal in the wild is going to come across comfrey at some point and I have never been warned to keep my critters far from the comfrey for fear they would die? Its just not news that’s out there. Now, I do know there are pharmaceutical companies who will financially suffer if too many of us begin using natural remedies instead of their many times harmful options. They do not benefit from anyone using what’s out in the wild to heal our bodies…so take their concerns & warnings with a grain of salt..or bigger like a grain of wheat…if the Indian’s of North America used it and will tell of its benefit, its good enough for me.

The flowers & leaves of the comfrey plant resemble the foxglove. Check the pictures here.

Comfrey and foxglove look similar until they blossom. Foxglove flowers are larger than those of the comfrey. Both are bell shaped, but the comfrey flowers hang on many small clusters and the foxglove’s flowers form one large cluster along a central cone-like spire. Both plants grow to around 4 feet tall. The leaves also are similar — large and hairy. The color is similar, but foxglove leaves are finely toothed along the edges, while the edges of comfrey leaves are smooth. Foxglove leaves spring from the root as a clump, while comfrey leaves branch from the stem. Foxglove is most often confused with comfrey in its first year of growth, when it most resembles that plant. Foxglove is always toxic but most dangerous when the seeds are nearly ripe. The upper leaves are more toxic than the lower ones.

Read more: Difference Between Comfrey & Foxglove

the two here are not the same sites….

I have comfrey I purchased from Old Williamsburg Village back a few years ago. So I know it is not any thing else. I have yet to find comfrey growing wild even though it says it grows in my area. 
The second year of growth is how you prove the plant to be foxglove or comfrey. SEE ABOVE~

Now, back to the many uses of comfrey~

Comfrey leaves can be cut and used as excellent green manures for other garden vegetables. The first leaves put out by comfrey plants each spring were traditionally used specifically with the planting of potatoes, to give the potato plants an early boost of nutrition and growth.

Here is the best part, a new discovery for me & one I just had to try to show just what it can do! ****I often wondered how comfrey healed a broken bone? I had gone to the library & stumbled across a book called Tips From the Old Gardeners, compiled by Duncan Crosbie. In there he tells of using the moistened root pulp to set like plaster applied to a broken ankle or leg or arm etc…I would not do a full body cast with it, but in my experiment, I discovered it really does set like plaster. 

It took at least an hour to dry, and once it was dry, it was firm, not allowing me to move easily. I would, if needed, shave the hairs off the area first, otherwise it pulls and hurts. I would not put this “cast” on an open break, but anytime I would apply it to a broken area that I could “handle” myself. Meaning that no obvious misplaced bone, one easily recognizable break that just needs a cast, not one needing to be set. Like the time I broke my toe & it was sticking straight out to the side & would not go back in by itself. I needed the pain relief prior to the setting. The second time I broke the same toe, years later, I just had to wrap it…the comfrey would have been an added blessing of healing it quicker. 

I discovered if I had to do it for real, I would grind longer to get a finer grind, less bulk. which is what I did for my leg~but it looks sparse here. I just had not ground enough of the root to cover as I would have if this were really a broken bone. So be prepared to have a lot of root dug. I believe you must have fresh root. Which is why you would not go searching in the wild. Instead have it growing in your garden for when its needed in an emergency. Knowing where it is for winter time would also be the added benefit. You know where to dig to look for it. The leaves are gone during winter so unless you know where you have it planted, you won’t find it during the winter month’s.

Comfrey root has this mucilaginous feel to it once the root is mashed. I would not use a blender, maybe a food processor to grind. I used a mortar & pestle. It would be difficult to get out of the blender. I added a very tiny amount of water & it seems to give a more spreadable effect, but not necessary. Too much water & it takes longer to dry. 
Symphytum Officinale is the name of comfrey in the homeopathic form. If I had a broken bone, I would be taking it as well. We take the homeopathic form when we have injured a bone anyway & it takes away the pain. Arnica is the other remedy we would take for the pain & bruising that accompanies a break or injury to the bone, like a mild sprain.

There are so many other uses for comfrey, if you want more, just comment to me & I will post more. Using it in the garden for fertilizer & 
I found some great information at another web site on comfrey infusion http://nourishingherbalinfusions.com/Comfrey.html

Some people feel comfrey is not safe to use internally at all. I disagree. The roots of comfrey do contain compounds that are best avoided during pregnancy. (As do all parts of the wild plant.)
In fact, I rarely use comfrey root because of the possibility of liver congestion, and I strongly caution those who have had hepatitis, chemotherapy, or alcohol problems to strictly avoid comfrey root. Yet even these people can benefit from use of comfrey leaf infusions. I harvest the flowering stalks when they are fully formed; and I am careful to use the cultivated garden comfrey, which grows very tall and has purplish, pinkish, bluish flowers. I avoid wild comfrey which stays rather small, even when flowering, and has cream-colored, white, or yellowish flowers.
Following are some of the warnings & issues on comfrey…encouraging you to not fear the use of comfrey…
Contraindications: Leaf hairs may irritate the skin. 
INTERNAL: Precautions must be made in taking this herb internally as there have been cases of pyrrolizidine alkaloid poisoning; however it might not be Symphytum officinale that is the real cause, but Symphytum uplandicum (S. uplanicum)(Russian comfrey). In the United States, both are sold in stores as the same thing so you don’t know for sure which one you’re getting. Studies have also been done and now the young leaves of Symphytum officinale have been found to contain this alkaloid, however there is also some discussion that S. officinale may contain a substance that cancels out the liver damaging and possibly carcinogenic effects of the alkaloid. Either way, please take care if you take this herb internally and don’t take it for more than four months at a time. It is generally suggested that Comfrey (either species) is for EXTERNAL use only. Large doses taken internally for extended (three or more months) may cause HVOD (hepatic veno-occlusive disease (narrowing of blood vessels in the liver thus reducing liver’s effectiveness)) and/or liver cancer. It should be noted that Comfrey has never been identified as the cause of any case of liver cancer in humans and only two cases of HVOD have been blamed on Comfrey, despite all the Comfrey that is consumed every day and has been many years. However, it is again best to err on the side of caution. Comfrey/Pepsin tablets, however, carry a much greater risk of causing liver cancer! 

EXTERNAL: No known contraindications and is considered to be fairly safe, though due to the speed at which Comfrey heals and closes wounds, care must be taken to keep the wound clean and free from infection while Comfrey does its work. Because of this, Comfrey is not generally recommended for deep or puncture wounds. 

I dry my leaves in the summer for winter’s use in my hot car. Its quick! I use the fresh leaves & root for my salves & tinctures & poultice. But the dried herb is for tea, whether for me or the garden. If you take the fresh leaves, put in a bucket, add water & let it rot. Put this “tea” on your garden to feed it.