Comfrey is a healing herb that stimulates the immune system. It is used for treating shallow wounds, scrapes, varicose veins, minor fractures, torn ligaments, muscle sprains, arthritis, burns, bruises, scars, bed sores, shingles, lung problems, itchy scalp, and hemorrhoids.
Comfrey is absorbed through the skin and greatly speeds up the healing process. It is used externally to encourage cell growth in connective tissues and underlying bones. Dried roots and leaves are made into ointments, poultices, compresses, and infused oils. Combined with thyme, lavender, or juniper essential oils , blood flow is increased and pain is relieved.
Comfrey ointment may be made by finely chopping two cups of comfrey leaves and adding to a cup of olive oil. Gently simmer until comfrey leaves are soft. Cool and strain. Put this “comfrey oil” in a double boiler with two or three tablespoons of beeswax. Heat slowly, stirring constantly, until wax is melted. Add a few drops of lavender or other favorite essential oil. Pour into a jar and store in a cool, dry location. Use within a couple of months and discard if mold appears.
Comfrey is also known as knit-bone or boneset since it can speed-up the healing of minor fractures. Use on toes, ribs, and other places where it is inappropriate to apply a cast. A paste is made of the leaves and applied regularly until healing is completed.
In the old days, dried comfrey root was ground into a powder and used to treat (and prevent) diaper rash. It was also applied as a poultice to the upper chest area in cases of asthma. The leaves were nibbled throughout the day to ward off asthma attacks.
Comfrey is a perennial that grows up to three foot tall, with brownish black, turnip-like roots. It has large, hairy leaves that measure about 20 inches long and feel rough to the touch. Comfrey flowers may be blue, lavender, pink, white, or creamy yellow.
Comfrey prefers full sun and rich, moist soil. It is a heavy feeder and does best when given a heavy application of manure. To increase plants, propagate from root cuttings or divisions.
Comfrey plants can live over twenty years so plant in a permanent location. To encourage more leaf production keep flower buds cut off. Comfrey is best when used in dried form. Avoid fresh, young leaves. Harvest during the flowering stage for best results (although the plant may be cut four or five time a year when grown for feed purposes).