Comfrey | Symphytum officinalis

Family: Boraginaceae

Parts Used: Leaf & Root

Appearance: Comfrey has large, rough, hairy and lance-shaped leaves ranging from 8-20 inches long. It has thick rough stems and white, pink or purple flowers that grow in a beautiful heliotrope-like curl. Comfrey is native to Europe and some parts of Asia but it can be found in gardens and growing as weeds along the Pacific Northwest. 

Harvesting Methods: The leaves and buds are best harvested when the flowers are just starting to bud, and the roots are best harvested in the Fall. Comfrey is toxic when taken internally for long durations due to its pyrrolizidine alkaloids. The pyrrolizidine alkaloid content in the leafs vary depending on when it is harvested – it is highest in the early spring and lower later in the season. The long dark taproot (which grows up to 6 feet tall!) contains the highest levels of pyrrolizidine alkaloids and should not be taken internally unless supervised.

Medicinal Uses: Comfrey is also known as “Knitbone” because of its ability to heal broken bones. It contains allantoin which stimulates cell proliferations and encourages proper connective tissue formation. Allantoin also helps stimulate the production of white blood cells when there is an infection present to enhance our natural defences against infection and to speed healing. Comfrey is best used topically because its alkaloid content cannot be absorbed through the skin.

Preparation: Please visit my ‘Medicine Making‘ page for more details

  • You can make a salve, poultice or compress from the leaves or roots to heal broken bones and closed infections.

Cautions: Comfrey is toxic when taken internally due to its pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Caution should be made when applying comfrey to open wounds as this will increase the absorption of the pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Speak with your healthcare provider to make sure Comfrey is safe for you.

Make Your Own Natural Medicine

Making your own medicine is a very empowering experience. Learn how to make your own medicinal teas, tinctures, salves, oils, poultices and compresses so you can heal yourself.