Clarity & The Amazing Health Benefits of Comfrey Leaf and Root
Back in the late 90’s when I was studying herbalism with Christopher Hobbs, common comfrey leaf and root had cautions for internal use. There had been some concerns that pyrrolizidine alkaloids, could be toxic to the liver and if used over time it could cause liver damage. When I opened Simple Remedies in 2003, common comfrey leaf was not labelled for external use only, so we put it into our Mineral Tea Blend for all it building and regenerative properties. Now Health Canada has deemed common comfrey root and leaf to be used for external use only. I decided to write this article hoping to give clarity on Comfrey leaf and root. I looked through many web sites, and books and gathered all kinds of information, which left me even more confused. I then came across Susun Weed a well-known and respected herbalist’s symposium on Comfrey Leaf and Root. This is what she had to say about all the confusion regarding Comfrey. “Perhaps it starts with confusion, aided by imprecise language. There are two species of comfrey: wild comfrey, Symphytum officinale, and cultivated comfrey, Symphytum uplandica x. (The “x” means it is a hybrid, a cross.) Wild comfrey (S. off.) is a small plant–up to a meter tall–with yellow flowers. Cultivated comfrey (S. uplandica x.) is a large plant–often surpassing two meters–with blue or purple flowers. Everyone I know grows uplandica and that is what is sold in stores. But gardeners and herbal sellers alike usually mislabel it, causing no end of confusion.” An herbal group Susun Weed belong to sent three samples of comfrey leaf (one from the west coast, one from the east coast, and one from the Rocky Mountains) to a lab to be tested for the problematic alkaloids; they found none.
O.K, now I am clear that what you will find in the herb shops labelled as symphytum officinale, is actually the cultivated Comfrey Symphytum uplandica x. that is safe. As we research plants we begin to discover the kind of test science use, such as isolating pyrrolizdine alkaloids from comfrey and injecting 9x the body weight of the rat which caused liver damage. Another study done on peppermint and pregnancy. Peppermint was deemed harmful during pregnancy, because they took pregnant rats and feed them only peppermint for the first trimester, which cause miscarriage. I have seen the extreme person who has taken Nettle leaf and drank 6 cups a day for 3 months until she broke out in hives. I prefer to use a variety of foods and plants. When we use variety it helps to keep the balance.
The beauty of whole herbs is there are many beneficial properties. Comfrey leaf and root contain carbohydrates, chlorophyll, traces of oil in the root, fibre (in capsules or eaten), allantion (protein), tannins, mucilage, starch, inulin, pyrrolizdine alkaloids, phenolic acids, minerals, especially calcium potassium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and cobalt, vitamin C, beta carotene and vitamin B12. Comfrey is known as KNITBONE because of its high allantion content that rebuilds broken bones. It is also very effective for cartilage, tendons and muscle rebuilding, inflammation, bronchial disorders, irritable bowel/colitis, arthritis, is known to heal gastric and varicose ulcers, severe burns, acne, and other skin conditions. Comfrey is known to have anti-viral properties especially for (staph and strep). In Chinese medicine it is cooling in the body, bitter/sweet in taste benefits the organs and meridians of the lungs, stomach, and kidneys.
I mix Comfrey leaf into my super green animal food blend. Blended with other nutrient rich plants such as nettle leaf, dandelion leaf, alfalfa leaf, spirulina and kelp. Herbs and food are designed to keep us healthy by activating digestive juices, aiding in the assimilation of nutrients, nourishing all our systems and keeping the body’s reserves full and happy.
Carola Schleuss, CNC, CMP
Practicing at Simple Remedies Herbal Solutions
For Animals friends and People.
Planetary Herbology, Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D.
The Herbs of Life, Leslie Tierra, L.Ac., HerbalistH