Comfrey may sound like some exotic dish or fancy drink but it is actually a plant. The leaf, root, stems of the comfrey plant have long been used to make a variety of medicine and has been used as an herbal supplement for centuries. On the down side, comfrey has a toxic chemical in its sap and the amount of this chemical that is found in comfrey changes depending on the season the plant is harvested in and how old the plant is. The roots have up to ten times as much of this toxin as the leaves. Symphytum officinale, Symphytum asperum, and Symphytum x uplandicum are species that are considered to be the most toxic of all types.
Uses of Comfrey
Comfrey is commonly found in a tea form that is used as a treatment for painful breathing, bronchitis, upset stomach, menstrual pain, diarrhoea, ulcers, asthma, and many other common conditions. It has been used as a gargle to treat symptoms of gum disease and sore throat and to treat canker sores and cold sores. Comfrey is also applied directly to the skin in order to treat for wounds, joint stiffness, bruises, arthritis, vein disorders, gout, and acne. How does comfrey work? The chemicals that are found in comfrey are thought to have healing effects and to be beneficial in reducing inflammation and pain when applied to the skin. However, many medical professionals caution against excessive use of the herb as the toxic chemicals found in comfrey can be absorbed through the skin and can accumulate to unsafe levels rather quickly.
Possibly effective for based on FDA approved tests and findings:
Back pain when applied to stiff or sore muscles that result in mild to moderate pain or stiffness.
Osteoarthritis when used on painful joints that are stiff and sore.
Sprains when applied to swollen and bruised areas caused by minor injuries.
Insufficient evidence for success based on FDA approved tests and findings:
Broken bones and fractures
Heavy cramping, pain, or bleeding during menstrual periods.
Gum disease, cold sores, canker sores, thrush, and cavities.
Other conditions not yet approved or evaluated by the FDA.
More evidence is needed to scientifically rate the effectiveness of comfrey for these uses as they have not fully been researched or approved by the FDA at this time.
Dosage and Usage
The appropriate amount of comfrey that is needed depends on a number of factors that vary greatly from one person to the next. This is why it is best to speak with your doctor or health care professional before using comfrey. Be sure to follow all directions carefully if you and your doctor desire to add comfrey to your wellness plan. See Dr. Hamilton for more information.