When I lived in the Pacific Northwest, Comfrey was a plant to be feared. Do too much digging around it, and this plant will quickly take over a garden bed. This herb is never to be easily removed once happy and established. Comfrey is best added to a backyard pharmacy by ordering the rootstock from a supplier or getting a plant from a friend. Years back I tried planting some roots in an area I devoted to “invasive” plants. But nothing ever really does well there as it is in full shade most of the day. Most medicinal herbs prefer full sun to thrive. In the last year two people have given me two plants which I planted in a sunnier spot. Now both are lush with growth but staying controlled so far. I do not plan on disturbing those roots and I have had several harvests of leaves. Comfrey seems to like to picked often, just like my large leaf plantain and calendula. If you are familiar with Permaculture or Biodynamic gardening, you know that comfrey leaves provide valuable minerals and other beneficial things to soil when composted. I certainly plan to to do that come October. But hating to waste anything that obviously wants to be used as medicine , I had to come up with some way to use it along with other plants. Even though I have a lot of oils in the backyard pharmacy cupboard, I guess I needed one more…. . This oil will be set aside for a base in many products. It makes use of four herbs that are very well know for their skin healing properties.
I always use a folk method for making oils. I let the plants guide me as to what is to picked and how much. For this oil I loosely packed a large jar with calendula flowers, echinacea flowers, plantain leaf, and comfrey Leaf. I prefer to use organic US grown olive oil. So far this has created oils that are stable, have a long storage life and don’t require added preservatives. Since there is a lot of fresh plant material in this product, I will only do the infusion for 2 weeks. It is warm enough in my house during the summer months that I can just let it sit on top of a cabinet. I make sure to release any air bubbles before sealing and try not to rupture cells wall by too much by applying a lot of pressure when straining.
Comfrey is a common perennial found in meadows, woodlands, along streams, gardens and moist places. Long, lanceolate, alternate leaves have numerous coarse/rough hairs with smooth or ruffled margins depending on the variety. Leaves MAY BE sessile or petioled, often presenting as a close to the ground, basal rosette in the spring. Shoots of tall, flowering, hairy, 1-4 ft long stalks occur as the season progresses. Stems and leaves MAY be winged/angular/ribbed. Clusters of medium sized, white to purple, tube/bell shaped, flowers grow on the tips as droopy racemes. Roots are numerous, small to medium, and spread widely throughout the soil. When cut even a small piece can easily produce another plant. The rootstock is white on the inside, fleshy and dark on the outside. It produces a slimy, glutinous juice. Comfrey is worth having in the garden to attract bumble bees and build soil.
This is plant is well known for its ability to heal due to its ability to encourage rapid cell, connective tissue, bone, and cartilage growth growth. It breaks down red blood cells, and soothing or protecting damaged tissues. Its astringent properties can stop bleeding quickly. When fresh it has the highest mucilage content of any medicinal plant. It is a great expectorant to remove mucus and other discharges from the body.
This plant is commonly used externally for sores, wounds, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, insect bites, burns, tendon/ligament/ joint (pain, inflammation, injury,) sprains, pulled muscles, dislocations, arthritis, back pain, rheumatism , bursitis, phlebitis, mastitis, acne, eczema, carpal tunnel, surgical scars, sunburn, swelling, wrinkles, dry/rough skin, swelling, dandruff, nosebleeds, fractures and bruising.
Historically this plant has been used internally for hemorrhage/internal bleeding, ulcers/inflamed stomach lining, pleurisy, bronchitis , pneumonia, to help regulate blood sugar levels, diarrhea, poor digestion, colitis, asthma, gallstones, heartburn, and broken bones
As a mouthwash is has been used to treat hoarseness, laryngitis, tonsillitis, and bleeding gums.
Latin name: Symphytum (there are several varieties, this plant easily hybridizes so exact ID can be challenging)
Parts used: Leaves and roots
Energetics:bitter, sweet, cool, moist
Spiritual/Emotional uses: to support clarity, connection, unity, inspiration, balance, expansion, manifestation, and pulling ideas together.
Contraindications: the roots contains alkaloids that are toxic/carcinogenic to the liver. The leaves have a lesser amount of this chemical, especially during late summer and fall. Internal use should only be undertaken under the supervision of an experienced care provider and only with the true Symphytum officinale variety. Internal use of the plant by individuals who are pregnant, elderly, or young and prolonged use is not recommended. Do not use on deep or dirty wounds and on bones that have not been set due to how fast it connects cells. Hairs on the fresh plant may irritate the skin or cause dermatitis in sensitive people when initially harvested. Be careful not to confuse it with foxglove which has similar leaves and bell shaped flowers.