Reply To: Comfrey

  • theholisticgoat

    June 22, 2023 at 12:44 pm

    In Edward Shook’s Advance Course In Herbology, he has this to say about comfrey:

    Now let us continue our study of – DEMULCENTS.


    Natural Order: Boraginaceae. This is one of Nature’s great master-pieces, and one of the most important therapeutic agents even discovered by man. It has been used for thousands of years, and during that time by millions of people.

    SYNONYMS: Comfrey, consound, knitbone, bruisewort, yalluc (Saxon), slippery root, black root, etc.

    HABITAT: A native of Europe, but has become naturalized in America and grows in moist soil and low ground in almost all parts of U.S.

    PARTS USED: Roots and Leaves.

    CONSTITUENTS: Mucilage 70 to 80%, tannin, aspargine, sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and from 0-5 to 0-7% of Allentoin. Iron and a little starch.

    ALLANTOIN, (C-4, H-6, N-4, 0-3), is a most remarkable substance found plentifully in the urine of pregnant women and animals, also in the urine of newly born babies. It has been found in the germ of wheat, in French peas and several other legumes. Allantoin is undoubtedly a cell proliferant, having something to do with genesis of cells, and it seems to act on both animal and vegetable cells. It has been injected into hyacinth bulbs and caused them to flower more rapidly.

    PROPERTIES: Demulcent, nutrient, astringent, vulnerary, expectorant, haemostatic.

    The reputation of comfrey as a vulnerary, from ancient times right up to the present is unique, and it will be worth our while to spend a few minutes glancing at its history and folklore.

    In an old book written by the English Herbalist, Baker (1567), occurs the following short reference to comfrey: “The water of the greater comfrie druncke helpeth such as are bursten and that have broken the bone of the legge.”

    The world famous English Herbalist, Culpepper of the Middle Ages says, “The great comfrey root boiled in water or wine and the decoction drank, heals inward hurts, bruises, wounds, and ulcers of the lungs and causes the phlegm that oppresses him to be spit-forth. A syrup made thereof is very effectual in inward hurts and the distilled water for the same purpose also and for outward wounds or sores in the fleshy or sinewy parts of the body and to abate the fits of agues and to allay the sharpness of humours. A decoction of the leaves is good for those purposes, but not so effectual as the roots. The roots being outwardly applied, cure fresh wounds and cuts immediately, being bruised and laid thereto and is specially good for ruptures and broken bones. So powerful to consolidate and knit together that if they be boiled with dissevered pieces of flesh in a pot, it will join them together again. The roots of comfrey taken fresh, beaten small and spread upon leather and laid on any place troubled with the gout, presently gives ease, and applied in the same manner it eases pain in the joints and tends to heal running ulcers, gangrenes, mortifications for which it hath by often experience been found helpful.”

    So, all through the Middle Ages and right up to the present, comfrey has been extolled for its great curative properties. Dr. MacAlister, an English chemist and scientist was quoted in the English Medical Journal, January 6th, 1912, as saying, “Allantoin (from comfrey root) in aqueous solution in strengths of 0.3%, has a powerful action in strengthening epithelial formations and is a valuable remedy not only in external ulceration, but also in ulcers of the stomach and duodenum.”

    The discovery of allantoin in comfrey root and the investigation of its cell proliferating action has led to the belief that comfrey root owes its powerful healing virtues to allantoin. The Chemist and Druggist, of August 13th, 1921, published an interesting article on comfrey as follows:

    “Allantoin is a fresh instance of the good judgments of our rustics, especially of old times, with regard to the virtues of plants. The great comfrey, or consound, though it was official with us down to the middle of the 18th Century, never had a prominent place in professional practice, but our Herbalists were loud in its praise and the Country Cullers of Simples held it almost infallible as an external and internal remedy for wounds, bruises and ulcers, for phlegm, for spitting of blood, ruptures, hemorrhoids, etc. — for ulcers of the stomach, and liver especially, the root was regarded as being of sovereign virtue. It is precisely for such complaints as these that allantoin obtained from the rhizome of the plant is now prescribed.”

    The world famous English Herbalist, Henry Box, in his book says, “A question often asked–What is the best thing for spitting of blood from the lungs?”. “Comfrey root. I have never known it to fail. I am glad to learn that several private persons are distributing it among those suffering from bleeding of the lungs and stomach or the bursting of other blood vessels and they too state that it never fails.” Again he says, “My consumptive mother had a large cavity in her left lung. The hemorrhage was often alarming and there was no hope. I had the happiness of curing her with comfrey root and clowns woundwort, a strong decoction almost as thick as treacle was taken freely. It wrought a complete cure.”

    The following short quotations are from the English Medical publication called “The Lancet” (1/99 910) “Symphytum Officinale”– The comfrey plant and root boiled, as a poultice for sarcomatous or cancerous tumors: One such cured, and in the same issue on page 939 –for haemoptysis and kidney disease with blood in the urine, as a decoction or syrup.

    I have taken up this valuable time in order to firmly impress upon your mind some facts regarding this truly remarkable Herb, Comfrey. And now to its uses, formulas, methods of preparation and administration.”