Comfrey Leaf is a controversial herb but one I always keep on hand. Though it has been used for centuries, it has become controversial in the last century for the possibility of it causing liver problems when used internally. That being said, I’ve found it extremely helpful in external uses…
What is Comfrey?
According to Mountain Rose Herbs, some of the controversy stems from its historic use and recent testing:
“Comfrey’s use in Chinese traditional medicine spans over 2000 years. All Materia Medica from the Middle Ages forward carried descriptions on the uses of comfrey. Comfrey baths were very common during the Middle Ages. Comfrey is widely known as “one of nature’s greatest medicinal herbs”, and has appeared in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia, as well as in herbals and compendiums around the world. Recently, reports of the toxic effects of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in comfrey have led some herbalists to be wary of using it internally. PAs in extremely large doses or over long periods of time may cause potentially fatal damage to the liver. Many leading herbalists and traditional healers question the warnings, pointing to laboratory tests that show only minute levels of PAs in random samples of comfrey preparations.”
Though I very rarely consider using Comfrey internally, I use it externally and would feel comfortable using it internally if needed for this reason:
“With regards to the warnings that comfrey can cause cancer and liver disease, most herbal practitioners point out that those results were from studies that isolated the pyrrolizidine alkaloids and fed or injected them into animal subjects in doses far higher than any typical usage of comfrey leaf, and that comfrey leaf has been regularly ingested by thousands of people around the world without reported ill effects.”
Uses for Comfrey
As I mentioned, I feel comfortable using Comfrey Leaf externally for its uses as in healing wounds and broken bones. It is high in Calcium and Vitamin C and simulates healing activity. In folk medicine it is sometimes referred to as “knitbone” for its ability to speed wound healing.
Externally, it is said to be anti-inflammatory and speed wound healing due to its natural concentration of allantoin.
In my personal experience, its bone mending properties are the reason I always keep comfrey in the house. I once broke my pinky toe (actually, this has happened more than once thanks to late night stumbling in the hall to get water for kids, etc) and was told that this is not an injury that doctors can really help and that it would have to heal on its own.
This was at the beginning of my health/natural living journey, but I decided to research natural options to help with the pain and stumbled on information about comfrey in the process. After more research, I decided to make a poultice of comfrey leaf and plantain and apply to the broken toe several times a day.
Since I’d had this type of injury before, I knew that it often took several weeks at least to heal and that the pain often lasted this long. With twice-daily comfrey and plantain poultices, I noticed reduction of pain within a few days and the pain was almost not-noticeable after one week! By the second week, I was back to wearing whatever shoes I wanted and was a believer in the benefits of comfrey!
Comfrey Notes and Precautions
Comfrey is not recommended internally. Not recommended for use in pregnant women, even externally. As always, consult a doctor and/or qualified herbalist before using this or any herb!
Ever used comfrey to help a broken bone or other use? Share below!