Comfrey is a fast-growing perennial herb with large leaves and small, various-colored, bell-shaped flowers. It’s native to Europe and prefers growing in damp, grassy places, but can also grow elsewhere. It has a long history of medicinal use in many European countries. In Ireland, for example, the herb was commonly applied topically to cuts and wounds and also used for colds. In addition, folk herbalists there used comfrey to treat the following: toothaches (County Kilkenny), kidney issues (County Tipperary), warts and other skin issues (County Limerick). There are also records of comfrey juice being used topically to improve general skin complexion.
Today, comfrey is considered a premier first-aid herb. It rebuilds tissues, stops hemorrhaging and helps heal wounds, sprains, fractures, bruises and stomach ulcers. The chemical allantoin in comfrey increases cell proliferation, shortening (sometimes significantly) recovery time after injuries and surgeries. Comfrey supports healthy digestion as well, and helps the pancreas regulate blood-sugar levels. The demulcent properties are soothing to the lungs and help control coughs.
A beautiful flowering plant, it can be a great addition to the garden. However, it can also become invasive if not managed. Fortunately, due to their heavy nitrogen content, comfrey leaves make an excellent compost. They’re also used by organic farmers and gardeners to make a compost tea that is highly beneficial as a fertilizer for young seedlings.
As you can see, comfrey is quite the gift. If you have a garden, consider adding comfrey to it, and start reaping the bounty.
Photo by Nathan Thompson – all rights reserved