About Nature’s Gold

Excerpts from:
The Superb Herb – Comfrey by: Susie Sparks
Comfrey (Symphytum officnale) is a Medicinal herb native to Europe and Asia, and naturalized in the Rocky Mountains. Common names for this plant are boneset, knitbone or bruisewort. Comfrey is derived from the Latin “conferta,” meaning, “growing together,” probably because of its unique ability to mend tissues and bones.

This perennial plant is quite a tough and hardy guy, its deep roots can withstand temperatures as low as -40°, but beware, this guy will take over your whole establishment. It is great background cover, growing three to five feet high with its deep green egg to lance-shaped leaves. The leaves are coarse and hairy, and the stalks hollow, requiring wet, moist soil to flourish. Flowers are born on one-sided, curved racemes with blue, yellow or white coloring.

How to get rid of pain with Comfrey’s healing abilities were discovered around 400 BC, when the Greek physician Dioscorides prescribed it to heal wounds and mend broken bones. In the Middle Ages it was used to heal battle wounds. The Native American Indians have been using it to heal broken bones for centuries …. And we’ve been using it ever since for these same abilities and more. Comfrey poultices are used for mending bones, fractures and sprains; healing bruises, wounds, bedsores, ulcers, burns, eczema, psoriasis; respiratory and digestive aliments; ulcerated and inflamed lung conditions; Internal and external bleeding; and relieves the pain of arthritis. It is a soothing demulcent and tonic to all the mucous membranes.

The fresh young leaves and shoots have been used for culinary purposes as well, tossed into salads and cooked in soups or stews. The leaves are rich in vitamins A and C. Comfrey is one of the rare plants that contain B12, usually found only in animal sources. It is a rich source of calcium, potassium, phosphorus and some trace minerals. Because of all these nutrients, farmers cultivated comfrey as fodder for their livestock.

The great healing power of comfrey comes from a compound called allantoin, a cell proliferant that promotes growth of connective tissues, bone and cartilage. It augments healing both inside and out. This same substance is also found in the milk of nursing mothers and in the placenta, so it is related to the process of growth and multiplication of cells. Comfrey’s ability to break down red blood cells supports its healing abilities on bruises. Poultices made from the dried leaves or root powder can be applied to the affected area. I have also seen this to be very effective in alleviating the pain from carpal tunnel syndrome, a repetitive motion disorder usually In the wrist, crippling waitresses, computer operators and typists.

About the author:
Susie Sparks, AKA “Sparky” is a hierologist researching and studying medicinal herbs
for 16 years in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Mexico. She has studied with The New Mexico Healing Arts Academy in Santa Fe, The East/West Herbology Course with Michael and Lesley Tierra, Mayan Uterine Massage and Mayan Spiritual Healing with Rosita Arvigo in Belize, as well as attended workshops with many more wonderful herbalists. For the last 9 years she has been studying medicinal herbs in the high altitudes of the Rocky Mountains. She conducts workshops annually at the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival and writes a column “The Superb Herb” for the Crested Butte Weekly describing medicinal properties of local plants, as well as alternative/integrative healing methods for disease. In 1998 she published her first book, The Superb Herb: A Guide to High Altitude Rocky Mountain Medicinal Herbs and is currently working on a book called Healing Herbs in the Kitchen.