Herbalists call comfrey a vulnerary, an herb that encourages the healing of external wounds, bruises and sprains. Indeed, it has been used as such for thousands of years, dating all the way back to ancient Greece. Extraordinary claims have been made of its cell-regenerating, astringent, pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. Today. comfrey can be found in creams and ointments that can be purchased online and in many stores that sell holistic products.
The roots and leaves of comfrey contain allantoin, a compound that promotes new cell growth. Dr. Andrew Weil credits the allantoin in comfrey with being effective in healing "wounds that do not heal," including bedsores, diabetic ulcers, staph infections and even the bites of brown recluse spiders. In addition to the allantoin, the rosmarinic acid and astringent tannins in comfrey give the herb its pain-relieving qualities, and are also helpful in reducing swelling and inflammation.
Comfrey cream can be used on healing burns to reduce scarring. Because of the tissue-repairing attributes of comfrey, it is also effective in treating devitalised skin that has been weakened from sores that resist even prescribed pharmaceutical treatments.
Mucilage, a gelatinous substance in comfrey, soothes and softens skin. A cream containing comfrey promotes the growth of new skin cells, facilitates skin regeneration and helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
Bruises and Sprains
The allantoin and rosemarinic acid reduce pain and swelling, making comfrey cream effective for relieving the discomfort of bruises, sprains, dislocations, bursitis and joint pain. Rubbing the cream on a new injury can also reduce the discolouration of bruising.
Poison Ivy and Insect Bites
Comfrey is effective in relieving the itch and burn of poison ivy and insect bites. This is also due to the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving qualities of allantoin and rosmarinic acid, as well as the astringent tannins.
Comfrey cream applied to haemorrhoids can reduce the swelling, itching and pain associated with haemorrhoids as well as facilitate healing.
While comfrey is therapeutic when applied externally, it should never be taken internally. Comfrey contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, toxic compounds that when ingested, can cause liver failure.
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- The Good Herb; Judith Benn Hurley; 1995
- Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs; Claire Kowalchik & William H. Hylton; 1987
- Natural Health, Natural Medicine; Andrew Weil, M.D.; 1995
- The Green Pharmacy; James A. Duke, Ph.D.; 1997
- The Complete Guide to Natural Healing; Tom Monte; 1997
- Woman's Book of Healing Herbs; Sari Harrar and Sara O'Donnell; 1999