Notes from Herb Heaven


In days of old, comfrey was also called knitbone or boneset and has been known as a healing herb for centuries. A native to Europe and Asia, it was introduced to North America by early European settlers.

Comfrey is a hardy perennial that grows to 90cm high and has hairy leaves and stems and bell shaped flowers that are blue, purple, pink or cream.

It likes rich, deeply worked, damp soil, and grows well on banks of ponds, pools, streams and rivers and does best in the shade.
In spring, nip off the flower buds as it seeds itself quite prolifically. It can also be propagated by root division.

A wonderful plant for the garden, it has a high mineral content - potash, nitrogen and phosphorus amongst others – and is excellent for use as a compost plant. It makes a highly nutritious mulch and liquid fertiliser.

Steep leaves in rainwater for 2-4 weeks and use the "tea" as a plant food and put the decomposed leaves on tomatoes, potatoes or on the compost heap where it will help to break it down more quickly.

Comfrey's uses are mainly medicinal. As a tisane, ointment or root poultice, it is used to stop bleeding and heal wounds by encouraging cell growth in connective tissues and bones. 

In a cream it is used for bone or muscle damage and helps with osteoarthritis.
An oil infusion is useful for arthritic joints and can ease inflamed bunions.

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Good for gargles and as a wash for inflammation, it is also beneficial for acne and chapped or rough skin.  Try adding a strong brew to the bath. Pulped leaves or a mash made from the grated root can be used as poultices for bruises, swellings, sprains, aching joints, wounds and sores, burns and scalds. Since comfrey reduces swelling, it can be applied around broken bones to soothe and reduce inflammation and so helps to knit broken bones.

Recent feeling is that it is not considered safe to take internally too often, as it may tax the liver, so if you drink it, no more than once a day 
and not more than twice a week.  
Boil fresh comfrey leaves to make a beautiful golden fabric dye.  The juice of fresh leaves will soothe stings and insect bites and is also used as an insect repellent.

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