Comfrey Root Health Benefits

Comfrey root great for skin conditions

Comfrey root contains allantoin, a substance that gives this fantastic herb tremendous wound-healing powers. It has been scientifically proven that this plant can heal sores, ulcerations, burns, and diverse types of wounds, especially those difficult to cure.

Comfrey Root Scientific Facts

  1. Other names: Consoud, common comfrey
  2. French: Grande consoude          
  3. Spanish: Consuelda mayor
  4. Environment: Wet, damp soils of northern and Europe
  5. Description: Vivacious plant of the Boraginaceae family, growing from 60 to 100cm high. It has lanceolate, decurrent leaves (they grow directly from the stem, without petioles), covered by hairs. The flowers are pink, yellow, or violet.
  6. Parts of the plant used for medicinal purposes: The rhizome (underground stem) and the root.

Healing Properties and Warning

Comfrey root contains allantoin (1%-1.5%), sugars (starch, saccharose, inulin), high amounts of mucilage, glycosides, alkaloids, tannin, choline, and resin. Here are some comfrey root benefits:

Comfrey flower
  1. Wound healing: Thanks to its allantoin content, it has been experimentally proven to stimulate fibroblast proliferation. These are cells of the conjunctive tissues, which form the scar of wounds. Therefore, its use assists slow-healing wounds, skin sores and ulcers, burns, and whenever stimulation of wounded or bruised tissues is required. Allantoin also acts on the periosteum, a layer of tissue that surrounds the bones, and where the bone callus, which closes any breakage, is formed. However, it is not used in traumatology, perhaps because its application on the bone is quite challenging to perform. Moreover, there are other physical measures to close fractures at present.
  2. Soothing effect on skin and mucosa: Thanks to its content in mucilage, it promotes the healing of eczema, rashes, and other skin irritations and inflammations.
  3. Astringent: Due to the comfrey root’s content in tannin, it dries the mucosa and clots capillary vessels. Mouth rinses with comfrey root are recommended for stomatitis, gingivitis or inflammation of the gums, and pharyngitis.
Comfrey leaves

Whenever internally applied, comfrey root has antidiarrheic and pectoral properties (eases cough), but it is better to use it only in external applications since internally used it can be toxic.

WARNING! The root, the stem, and the leaves of this plant are toxic when taken orally since the alkaloid symphytine is present in them. This alkaloid has poisonous effects on the liver. Another substance, the glycoside called consolidine, produces paralysis on the central nervous system, and when taken in high doses, respiratory failure is also present in the plant.

Note: In Spain, there is another comfrey species called lesser comfrey (Symphytum tuberosum L.), also called tuberous. The properties of lesser comfrey and its applications are the same as those of the common comfrey.

How to Use Comfrey Root

Comfrey root is only applied externally on wounds, ulcerations, bruises, and burns.

  1. Compresses: Prepare an infusion with 100 or 200g of root per liter of water, steeping in cold extract for a couple of hours. Soak cotton or gauze compresses in this liquid and apply them to the affected skin area, changing them two or three times per day.
  2. Poultices with comfrey root, fresh, ground, or mashed. Change them as compresses, two or three times a day.
  3. Mouth rinses with the liquid of the cold extract, used for compresses.

REFERENCES

George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 732,733. Print.

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