February 13, 2017

Comfrey (Symphytum officinalis)

Comfrey was an herb brought from Europe by settlers who valued its bone and sprain healing properties. While Comfrey has been used for many different problems, modern science has discovered that it does have a high concentration of pyrrolizidine alkaloids which can be toxic. These alkaloids are found in the root more than the leaf. Comfrey should be limited to topical use of leaves only to avoid injury. Never consume comfrey in any form.

It has long been used as a poultice for cuts, scrapes, sprains, insect bites, fractures, and joint inflammation. Studies have been done on a topical preparation made in Germany called Kytta-Salbe for back pain, arthritis, and sprains. It has been found to help as much as a common otc anti-inflammatory agent. This commercial preparation is not available in the US, but it is easy to make a poultice from the plant or powdered herb from the health food store.

Comfrey Poultice: Pick several leaves and crush them in your hand. Then apply to clean sprained and bruised area. Hold in place by wrapping a bandage around the poultice. Leave on overnight to help reduce pain and discomfort.

Yours in herbs,
Danielle Rose, MD