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Botanical name: Symphytum officinale

family: Boraginaceae



General remarks, appearance


Comfrey originated in Europe and Western Asia. It is considered to be one of the most effective medicinal substances. The name Symphytum derives from the Greek word symphyein and means 'to grow together'. The name refers to its use for fractures and wounds. This healing effect was already known in ancient Rome.


Comfrey is a perennial rhizomatous shrub with bristly hairs that forms oval to oblong leaves. It blooms in June and July, and the blossoms are purple to white and funnel-shaped. The plant grows to 1.2 m tall and is 30-60 cm across.




Comfrey contains allantoin, which accelerates the growth of new tissue. Today, however, allantoin is produced exclusively synthetically for use in healing ointments. Comfrey also contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which were shown in animal experiments to cause liver damage and tumours. For this reason, tablets or capsules containing comfrey are no longer sold in many countries.




The leaves and roots are processed for medicinal uses. In earlier times the young leaves were chewed, but owing to their suspected harmful effects on health, this is not recommended today.


Characteristics, medicinal use


Comfrey is a sweetish, cooling, mucilaginous herb. It is anti-inflammatory and haemostatic. In medicine it is used internally for bronchitis, stomach and duodenal ulcers, colitis and rheumatism (tea made from the leaves). It is used topically for psoriasis, eczemas, wounds, varicose veins, ulcers, arthritis, sprains, inflamed balls of the feet, hands or toes, haemorrhoids, for breast inflammation during nursing, for injuries and for bone fractures.





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