Normally when I mention comfrey, I see people’s noses automatically crinkle up because if you have ever made your own nitrogenous plant feed from it, you’ll know that it sure has a distinctive and almost putrid smell when rotted down. Comfrey is more than a friendly pollinator and some smelly feed – it’s a wonder plant for your skin.
Now this is where I give you this warning and only once – it has to be used in moderation. Due to the allantoin and rosmarinic acid in the roots and leaves, comfrey is packed with other elements that help new skin cells grow, and with that, there does come some problems.
- Never digest comfrey
- It’s not to be eaten. Don’t eat it. Comfrey tea is for plants. Not for anything else. It causes liver damage and can lead to death if digested. Oral comfrey products are banned in the UK.
- Do not use on open wounds or broken skin. Skin can grow so fast with comfrey that it may trap debris in the wound.
- Use in moderation as you do not want harmful chemicals to build up (pyrrolizidine alkaloids).
- Only use products that are from the leaves of common comfrey (Symphytum officinale).
- Never use on children.
- Only use small amounts
- Never use for longer than 10 days at a time and/or never use comfrey for more than 4-6 weeks of the year.
- Do not use if you have liver disease, suffer from alcoholism, cancer, are breastfeeding and/or pregnant.
- Do not use alongside acetaminophen.
- Always consult your doctor prior to trying comfrey, especially if you are on other medications.
So… where do we go from here? It sounds pretty scary but with careful use, it can be hugely effective.
You can use it on the skin to treat wounds and reduce inflammation from sprains and broken bones and both are designed for short term use! I use mine for a couple of days a month for period pains and I haven’t taken a paracetamol or ibuprofen for it since.
I find making much smaller batches of comfrey salves also helps keep it safe as it then cannot be used quickly. One small 30ml tin should be enough to last you to start with but if you’re using it for muscle repair, you may want a little more. Comfrey is absorbed through the skin so care must be taken and monitored when using.
Making your own oil for your salve is very easy and the same way I make my Calendula salve. Pick the young, fresh leaves from the base of the plant. Add as many as you can fit in a 500ml jar and then cover with your chosen carrier oil which is suitable for your skin. Shake every day and keep in a cool dark place for 4-6 weeks (or longer).
When making your salve, you will need another base oil such as mint (for cooling), or capsicum (for warming), or Calendula for moisturising, to level out the dosage of comfrey and make it safer to use. You want to use 1/3 cup of comfrey oil to 2/3 cup of another base oil and this can be kept plain if you wish.
You will need:
1 ounce beeswax
1/3 cup comfrey oil
2/3 cup additional base oil (not comfrey)
Use the double boiler method and add your wax. Allow this to melt gently, then pour in your 1/3 cup of comfrey oil and 2/3 cup of your alternative oil. Melt all together and pour into much smaller tins than you would for calendula – 30ml should see a person through (think lip balm sized) but you can make them larger if needed. You will find this should make about 10 small tins.
Comfrey is packed full of calcium, magnesium and Vitamin C, making it perfect for bone strength and bone repair and is absorbed into the skin.
With safe usage, this is definitely in my collection of wonder balms!