>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.


27 thoughts on “>Comfrey a.k.a. Knitbone, Boneset, Symphytum Officinale ~"plaster cast"

  1. My comfrey plant (just given to me this past spring) is loving the wetter and cooler weather we’ve been having in our part of TN. Can you tell me:
    1) What do I do to preserve it over the winter?
    2) Do I pick and use/preserve all the leaves now, or will they stay usable past frost?
    3) Is it safe to dig up some of the root this winter, if necessary, or will it harm my new plant?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Nancy,
      Comfrey is a very happy plant no matter the weather. My comfrey survived the drought of this past summer by shooting up new plants wasting the dry dead leaves. Once the rain started that comfrey took off & is doing as yours is, vibrant & green, showing off with blooms.

      1)You need do nothing to the comfrey plant for the winter. It will die back once a frost or freeze comes. However, save the leaves before this occurs & dry the leaves.
      One year I picked a large amount & I knew I would be gone for a month so left them to dry in my library on towels. When I returned they were dry & ready to package. The leaves were stuck to the towels like velcro! But very nicely peeled away for storage. I was impressed. But, warning...they have these tiny little hairs similar to cactus that get into your skin. It is not a burning or harmful, just annoying, so wear gloves.

      2)Begin picking them now, but do not strip the leaves completely. Allow them to continue producing till they naturally die back. I usually take from the bottom of the plant as they are the older leaves. Remember to use the leaves for animal fodder too. The nutrition is amazing. I would give some during animal sickness as well. Which we had to do here recently for an ill porcine. He loved it. Read the blog on this information to get more details though.

      3) The root should not be disturbed until the second year. However, If I broke a bone & knew I could fix it myself because there is no broken skin & no misplaced bones I would use it to heal. As in a broken toe which I know too well. A sprain would be another way I would use the root. So be patient with the root. Give it time to go deep into the ground to be sure it can survive anything!

      This comfrey is a hardy plant. Not easy to kill. Once it is established. Thank you for asking. Anything more jus ask!

  2. Hi Judith–I’m back with another question about my precious comfrey! A few weeks ago, our cows (two of them) got into our garden. I was distressed to find they’d stepped on the spot where my comfrey plant is located. There were no leaves for them to bother, b/c it’s wintertime and b/c I’d picked most of them at the end of the season. Do you think they hurt it?

    Also, I’m so grateful I DID pick all those leaves last fall! I hung them with clothespins from a line in our warm sunroom to dry (b/c our dehydrator could not hold so many big leaves). (I also flash froze some, too, so I could pull out some “fresh” ones if necessary.) Our horse sprained her ankle (or whatever that part of her leg is called) last week. My daughters have been feeding her comfrey leaves once a day (cut up, mixed with oats, and iced with a bit of molasses) to help the inflammation from the inside while also dressing her leg daily with a very strong tea made from the leaves.

    When they first found the horse in the pasture, she could not walk to the barn, and her leg was swollen and hot. We had to get the trailer out there to bring her into the barn. With regular treatment, she is now walking around with barely a limp. (The other measure they did was to put some DMSO cream on the leg before the comfrey. DMSO helps with transdermal passage of other meds or herbs.)

    • Hi Nancy. So glad to hear you are able to use that comfrey. Good for you thinking to save the leaves for emergency situations when the plant is dormant.
      The roots are very deep on a comfrey plant & will not be harmed by trampling. So do report back in the spring when your plant has sprouted to let all here know how well it is doing.

      The DMSO is a great liniment & works wonders. What I would have done besides the internal herb for your horse, after applying the DMSO (found inexpensively at horse supply store, TSC etc.) put comfrey tincture on to be absorbed into the injured area. DMSO allows a rub, or a salve to be pulled into the area instead of just laying on the skin. It helps the healing to go faster which is what you need in a situation like this one you mention. It works for humans too. Just don’t get it in or near the eyes nor mouth. I even give drops of tincture to the animal or you can make a tea for the same purpose. Spray it on or dab it on with a piece of cloth.

      We recently had a dog get rear ended by a truck in the road & we were able to use the comfrey to bring him back to healing. I report that just today he finally was able to get his behind up, on his own without needing to be propped to get moving on his own four feet. Great strides made & comfrey was a big part of the healing process. We gave him the tincture internally along with the homeopathic Symphytum Officinale .

  3. i want to grow comfrey. where can i buy the roots in India? can you send the roots by post? if yes how the payment process?

  4. Hi I recently fractured my ankle as well as fib. My dr. Originally wanted to do surgery, but ultimately we decided on a plaster cast. I’m wanting to try comfrey to aid in the healing, but is it safe? I’ve read I shouldn’t till the bones have been reset into place. My dr. Did reset before applying the cast but there are no pin sir screws.

    • tho you are healed by now, even if you are still dealing with pain from your broken/fractured bone/ankle, applying a comfrey root cast will help to get that pain out of the bone. I would not hesitate to do this at least for a day, or an overnight. Maybe a couple nights. If you are a homebody, leave it on for a couple days.

  5. Pingback: My friend Comfrey | Salka Vida

    • I love your description of comfrey being lilke crazy glue. Tho I do use “super glue” for some cuts, especially when you bend a fingernail too far, comfrey is some good glue in general..that would be the root folks. Give it a try and don’t wait for something serious before knowing how to use it.

  6. I have a torn meniscus I;’ve been using comfrey in salves I made and taking it from a company pure herbs called knit bone. Do u think it will help ? I know it helps broken bones.

  7. I have a heel spur a friend suggested using comfrey tincture oil I have tried so many things do you know if this will work I’m sick of the pain thank you

    • I used many herbs and tried lots of homeopathics to rid the pain. I used my portable tens unit I bought online for under $50.00 which greatly reduced the pain, but never quite fully gone. Then Joette Calabrese did a blog post on the heel pain. I used the comfrey in the homeopathic mode and I am free of the pain. I would do it with the tens unit because it really gave relief in the interim.
      Here is Joette’s comment then below is her blog on the subject

      Homeopathy approaches plantar fasciitis in much the same way as we do arthritis or any other chronic problem in the joint, muscle or connective tissues.
      For years, I employed Rhus tox, Ruta and Arnica montana for this condition, but after working with the Banerji Protocol, I’ve made a shift and have found that their method is more consistent.
      Their protocol is to use Symphytum officinale 200C mixed with Rhus toxicodendron 30C, taken twice daily until symptoms improve.

  8. My friend made me an ointment of comfrey and Vaseline. I use it often to good effect. Now my dog has severe degeneration of her hip bones. If I apply it, she likes it. If I do the 2 weeks on/2 off, will it harm? Her blood panel came back fine for using anti-inflammatory, but I like comfrey better.

  9. Hi. Thanks for this article. I broke my ankle 4 days ago. It was put in a soft cast which will be removed in 5 days to be replaced with a hard cast for 5 weeks. So I cannot access the wounded area, though my toes do stick out. I have TONS of comfrey in my yard, which I use to make salve. I guess I’ll start putting that on my toes. I’d be so grateful for an advice about how to use comfrey going forward. Tea? Toe poultice? I’ll try to get someone to get it for me in homeopathic form. But I have tons of the actual herb here.

    Thanks so much,

    • Carolyn what I can tell you is do your own experimenting. If it were me, I would do the tea and when I had access to the site I would do the leaf poultice and then do the cast…there will likely be residual pain as with any bone injury and this is where the root does its wonderful healing. Post back after your experimenting and let us all know how it was done and what the results were you noticed. I also would do the homeopathic during the cast healing.

      • Thanks so much. My toes are sticking out so last night I mashed up some comfrey and shoved it in there. Tomorrow this cloth cast comes off and they put a hard one on. I have been drinking tea made with a few confrey leaves (as well mint/ginger/nettle/elderberry/honey, which I drink regularly) added in. I took some symphytum pellets (30 c), then a friend gave me a tincture which is 1000c. He had me take arnica for a few days first, and I’ll start taking the stronger symphytum tomorrow. So we’ll see how it goes! I do wish that I could access my ankle to apply the comfrey directly. It is just funny as it grows all over here. I want to use it!

  10. Our 4# Chihuahua was run over by a car and fractured her pelvis. We are two weeks post accident, and somehow she reinjured herself. She is in terrible pain. But, we also do not want nor can we afford to put in plates and screws. I have a plate and 6 screws in my neck post accident, & I know we really do not want to do this. How would we apply comfrey leaves? Should she also take it.internally & what form? How long & how much? I read your article, but since she is so small, I wanted to double check my understanding.

    Do sell this in the forms I need? Can we get it here to GA fast?!

    Thank you so much,

  11. Hello. First off thanks for the info it was very helpful. I’m in Denver Colorado and am wondering how or where I can purchase comfrey for a fractured wrist? Please help

  12. I just started using the comfrey cast bought from Kauai Farmacy for my sons ankle break. We put it on last night and it had hardened and fallen off before morning. I think it worked some as all the swelling had displaced and became putting edema. Is this a sign it worked or is this a problem? Did you find this happening in any of your excitements?

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