Saturday, March 3, 2012

Comfrey "Queen of the Herbs"

Here's the comfrey I grew and dried for use in tea and poultices.

Comfrey is another example of an herb that my mother introducted to me when I was still living at home under her care. She used to buy it in a box at the health food store in California in the 1960's, it was "Comfrey Mint Tea" which is a delicious blend. I make that blend also with the mint that grows so abundantly in my yard here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

I've done a lot of research throughout my life on herbs for personal and family health. One of the best descriptions of comfrey is the "Queen Herb". Some herbalists claim that if they had to choose only one herb, they would choose comfrey because of it's many uses.

I use comfrey sparingly, only a few days at time because of the warnings which can be read at the end of this entry. It is helping me heal from the upper respitory illness I have right now, along with horehound tea, lemon and honey and vegetable broth that I made a huge pot of. I'm also using Yin Quao Jie Wan and Monolaurin.

Herbs are wonderful, however I never substitute home remedies for going to the doctor or hospital when the need arises. I feel modern medicine and all the miraculous knowledge associated with it, is a blessing; it has saved my life and health as well as family members.

Here's a sample of a little online research:

Comfrey (Symphytum officianale) has been used since ancient times as an herbal remedy. The name "comfrey" comes from the Latin words "con firma." In ancient Greek and Roman medicine, comfrey was also known as "knit bone" for its ability to speed healing of broken bones. The roots were soaked in wine or boiled in water, and a compress of the resulting comfrey tea or the boiled roots themselves were applied to the wound.

Comfrey leaf has a long history of use to promote the healing of bones and wounds, as well as internal use to treat a wide variety of ailments. It was also used to treat various ailments such as ulcers, dysentery, diarrhea, indigestion, gum diseases, sore throats, tuberculosis and other lung diseases, whooping cough, cancer, and arthritis. Comfrey leaves are rich in allantoin, phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, trace minerals, calcium, and vitamins A, B-12 and C.

Dioscorides recorded how it was used in treating the armies of Alexander the Great, and Pliny the Elder also makes mention of its great many uses. Its use in Chinese traditional medicine spans over 2000 years.

One of the country names for comfrey was ‘knitbone’, a reminder of its traditional use in healing bone fractures. Modern science confirms that comfrey can influence the course of bone ailments.

The allantoin contained in the plant is thought to help replace and thus repair cells in the body through its profliferant properties. Comfrey was reputed to have bone and teeth building properties in children, and have value in treating "many female disorders".

If you choose to take comfrey tea, it is strongly recommend that you do so under the guidance of a qualified herbalist or physician.

Used externally, comfrey appears to be relatively safe. An external salve or ointment of comfrey may be used to speed healing of broken bones, cuts, wounds and sprains. Never apply comfrey to broken skin. Apply it instead to the skin around the affected area.

An FDA report also implicates comfrey in the death of two people in the United States. (This report was made many years ago, and I'm not sure over what period of time). These people took excessive amounts of comfrey, but the FDA thought it prudent to issue a warning against consuming comfrey tea until more data demonstrated its safety.

Much of the research demonstrates conflicting results, but until the final word is in, it may be best to exercise caution and use comfrey only as an external treatment.

Comfrey is the organic fruit grower's secret crop booster. You can use it to make a nutrient rich liquid fertilizer, feed, mulch or you can make a good potting-on compost. Whenever you want a readily available fertilizer for flowers fruit and seeds then give comfrey a try.

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