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Comfrey  

Comfrey plant  Comfrey  flowers    

The other day I mistakenly applied concentrated grapefruit seed extract to an irritation on the inside of my mouth. An hour later it became obvious that I had made it worse, not better, and the delicate tissue of the inside of the mouth had become burned. It was hurting badly. I even thought I might not be able to sleep because of the pain. Luckily my wife reminded me of the healing properties of comfrey. She went into the garden, picked some comfrey leaves, took the stems and put them in the blender with a little water to make a thick juice. I put the juice on the delicate tissue, holding it there for a while and spitting out out the comfrey, as it is not recommended for internal use. I repeated this a couple of times, the thin coating that remained was healing, it also protected the tissue. In the following hours the pain slowly disappeared and by bedtime the pain was almost completely gone. To my surprise, after only three days the tissue was completely healed.
Comfrey, (Symphytum officinale) is a remarkable plant. It is a member of the Borage family. The plant is rough and hairy all over with big dark green leaves, on stalks which bear small pink or purple or white flowers. The roots branch out from a sturdy base, they are fibrous and fleshy, like fingers they reach into the soil, breaking it up and tilling it for you. They can grow up to a foot long, are an inch or less in diameter, smooth, blackish outside and white inside. Comfrey is a strong grower. Cut it down and it will grow up again in no time. Once you plant it is difficult to ever remove it, as even a small piece of root will grow into a new plant, and pieces that you do not see always break off when you try to pull it out.
Wild comfrey was brought to America by English immigrants for medicinal uses. The allantoin content of comfrey, especially in the root, led to its use in folk medicine for healing wounds, sores, burns, swollen tissue, and broken bones. Allantoin, also found in milk of nursing mothers and the fetal allantois, appears to affect the rate of cell multiplication. Wounds and burns heal faster when allantoin is applied, possibly the result of an increase in number of white blood cells. Comfrey promotes healthy skin, with its mucilage content it moisturizes and soothes, while the allantoin promotes cell proliferation.
Comfrey leaves are of much value as an external remedy, for sprains, swellings and bruises, cuts, boils and abscesses. Any or all parts of the fresh plant, including leaves stems and roots, are excellent for soothing pain in any tender, inflamed part. When fresh is not available dried can be used by soaking it with hot water. Sew up a close weave mesh cloth bag, light muslin or other breathable cloth, for a poultice, so it does not escape and make a mess! A slippery, glutinous astringent, it is useful in any kind of inflamed swelling. Poultices can be hot or cold, depending on the situation and what is needed. They can be on all night, as mine was with a nearly dislocated shoulder. Use a towel too, to keep the mess off your sheets! One way to beat the mess is to put ground dried roots into a cloth bag, sew it shut on the sewing machine, and THEN put the boiling water over it and let it sit until it has softened. Reheat in a steamer. Or cool in the fridge.
We do not use comfrey internally. There are pyrrolizidine alkaloids present in comfrey, potent hepatotoxins (liver damaging), so don't drink a tea made out of it.
 
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