Family: Boraginaceae, includes borage and forget-me-nots
Parts Used: Root and leaf
Comfrey is a perennial that can grow 3-4 feet with pretty purple flowers. It is known for healing bones and being a great composting plant to feed other plants in your garden. Other names for comfrey include bruisewort, knitbone, boneset, and healing herb, all which refer to it’s amazing bone healing properties. I became real familiar with this amazing herb last summer when my boys both had broken bones. It has quickly become one of my favorite go to herbal salves and a must have for the first aid kit.
Herbal Actions and Properties
- allantoin – protects the skin and promotes the growth of new skin cells
- alterative – purifies the blood
- cell proliferant – promotes formation of cells responsible for mending and healing the body
- demulcent – soothing; relieves inflammation
- expectorant – facilitates coughing
- hemostatic – arrest internal bleeding or hemorrhaging
- mucilaginous – polysaccharides that have a slippery, mild taste
- nutritive – supplies nutrients that aid in building and maintaining the body
- contains high levels of calcium, phosphorus, and potassium
- Bone fractures and injuries.
- Damaged tissues, torn ligaments, strains and sprains.
- Wounds, cuts, abrasions, bruises, boils, sores, rashes, skin eruptions, etc.
- Soothes paint and inflammation in joints and muscles.
- Any type of inflammation.
- Any type of skin condition; dry, chapped skin, sunburn, scar tissue, eczema, psoriasis, etc.
- Use as an herbal steam for acne.
- Tones as well as heals skin.
- Breaks up milk knots in nursing mothers.
- Varicose veins
- strengthens bones, muscles and tissues.
- Mild pain reliever.
- Respiratory support; lung conditions, coughs, bronchitis, pneumonia, whooping cough, asthma, etc.
Methods of Use
- Salves, balms, ointments, cream, butters
- Herbal baths and steams
- Herbal infused oils
- Compress and poultice (where comfrey shines)
- Herbal infusion (tea)
In the Garden
- Hard to start with seed so it is best propagated by root, divide in mid-late spring or fall for replanting. Plant a one inch piece of root and cover with about three inches of soil. Keep moist, but well drained.
- If trying to start with seed, sow into cool soil in the spring, it takes 30 days to germinate.
- Space plants 18” apart.
- Snip or handpick leaves any time during the growing season for external use. Internal use should be after the first cutting.
- Leaves mildew fast so you want to use a dehydrator if drying leaves. Place on the lowest setting, keeping the leaves warm and dry.
- Studies have shown the leaf to be just as potent as the root but there is some that say the roots are more potent. If you want to harvest the roots wait until the plant is done flowering and then dig up, wash well and dry in a dehydrator on the lowest setting.
Using Comfrey in the Garden:
Comfrey is not only easy to plant in the garden, it is a well known compost plant. In fact, some people plant it just to be used for composting and mulching other garden plants. Just grab a handful of leaves (with gloves on because it can be pokey) rip the leaves up and sprinkle around other plants for a multi-purpose mulch and fertilizer. If you have a compost pile you can throw a bunch of leaves into it. You can also make a compost tea by stuffing a jar with leaves packed down and cover with a lid. The leaves will decompose into a “black tea” after a couple weeks. Dilute the tea with 10-20 parts water and use to fertilize garden plants. *Just a warning that this tea is pretty stinky so don’t be alarmed.
Contentions with Comfrey Studies by Dr. Christopher's Herbal Legacy
Dr. Christopher's Herbal Legacy: Benefits of Comfrey
The Healing power of Trauma Comfrey
Where Can I Get Some?
You can get organic dried comfrey leaf and/or root from Mountain Rose Herbs and Bulk Herb Store.