Comfrey officinalis

Diseases and effects: wounds, ulcers, bone diseases, rheumatoid joint lesions, gout, osteochondrosis, arthritis, arthrosis, inflammation of the periosteum, dislocations, bone fractures, sciatica, osteomyelitis, thrombophlebitis, bone tuberculosis.

Active substances: allantoin, tannins, flavonoids, vitamin B12, mucus, starch, vegetable acids, triterpenes, pyrrolizidine group alkaloids, cynoglosin and consolidin.

Collection time:  April – May, September – October

Many thanks for preparing the material Lisichka Lesnoy \r

Botanical description


Family: borage (Boraginaceae)\r

One of the most famous representatives of borage is the genus comfrey (Symphytum, more than 25 species distributed in the Mediterranean, Western Asia and in the temperate climate of Europe). The most famous European species is the medicinal comfrey (S. officinalis). This is a rather beautiful, large (up to 120 cm high) perennial herbaceous plant with a powerful root system. It often grows in large groups on very fertile moist soils (some sources say that Boranchikovye prefer clay soils) in a light location: on forest edges, along rivers, ditches and streams, in fields, meadows and shrubs. Pretty common throughout Europe.\r

The rhizome is short, with thick, branched roots (almost black outside, white inside). Juicy.\r

Stem  – winged, straight, thick, covered with hairs.\r

The leaves are large, alternate, upper – lanceolate, lower – petiolate, to the touch – prickly, hard, covered with villi.\r

Flowers red-violet or lilac, later changing color to blue or cream. Collected at the top of the stem and branches in a drooping racemose inflorescence (curl). It blooms from May to July (according to some sources – until September). Fruits – black nuts, smooth and shiny – ripen in July-September.\r

Comfrey hard or rough (S. asperum)


Looks like medicinal. Along with other representatives of the Buranchikov family – borage and forget-me-not – hard comfrey has reached the status of a garden weed. This is also a powerful plant, covered with prickly bristles, up to 150 cm high, but its stem is without wings, the corolla is light purple, then blue, white along the edge. Nuts with dotted tubercles and wrinkles at the base, which is also a hallmark. Comfrey hard and stray comfrey (S. peregrinum) in a number of regions of Europe and East Asia introduced into the culture as valuable fodder plants rich in protein. O. Crimean (S. tauricum) grows in upland oak forests, with white flowers. Comfrey (S. cordatum) is a Carpathian subendemic with a light yellow corolla and large, heart-shaped, burdock leaves.

Parts used: rhizome, sometimes fresh leaves.\r

Collection and preparation


In early spring or late autumn, rhizomes are dug up, cleaned of adhering earth, cut into strips, strung on a thread and hung to dry.\r

Active ingredients


Allantoin, tannins, flavonoids, vitamin B12, mucus, starch, various vegetable acids, triterpenes, and some alkaloids of the pyrrolizidine group. No other plant contains so much allantoin. In the roots of comfrey there are 0.2-0.3% alkaloids, in the grass – up to 0.1%; in the roots of hard comfrey – 0.1% alkaloids, and in the grass – 0.2%.\r

Healing action and application


One of the oldest medicinal plants, which is also reflected in its generic name, which comes from the Greek. σuµ-φuω – “to splice, connect”, and in the generic: Latin officinale – “pharmacy”. Already abbesses Hildegard von Bingen and Paracelsus used comfrey as a healing agent in the treatment of wounds, ulcers and all kinds of bone diseases.\r

When in Moscow was organized in the XVII century. Apothecary order and “pharmaceutical gardens” were laid out, 20 pounds of comfrey roots were brought there for breeding (by the way, from Polotsk and Smolensk).\r

The main feature of comfrey is its ability to accelerate the restoration of damaged tissues, especially bone. It is used for any bone pathology, rheumatoid joint lesions and gout, osteochondrosis, arthritis and arthrosis, inflammation of the periosteum, dislocations, bone fractures, sciatica, osteomyelitis, thrombophlebitis, bone tuberculosis. Indications for the use of comfrey are also chronic bronchitis, inflammation of the stomach and intestines, purulent skin lesions, bleeding.\r

The root has a regenerating (wound healing, bone healing), bactericidal, anti-inflammatory, hemostatic, astringent, expectorant, enveloping, hypotensive, stimulating, antitumor effect, stops the process of tissue necrosis.\r

An absolutely amazing therapeutic effect is observed when treating and applying lotions from comfrey to wounds, even in cases where conventional remedies do not help, for example, with chronic suppuration due to osteomyelitis, with trophic ulcers of the lower leg and inflammation of the subcutaneous tissue. This action is caused by allantoin. This substance dissolves the discharge from the wound, liquefies the pus and stimulates new tissue formation. (By the way, allantoin is secreted by fly larvae, and for more than 40 years M. Robinson in the USA has been using them to achieve sensational healings).\r

The leaves are rich in vitamin C and can be used in salads.\r

root decoction


100 g of comfrey rhizomes are boiled over low heat for 10 minutes in 1 liter of water (or 2 tablespoons in 1 glass of water), then the decoction is filtered and a warm compress is made from it. As well as a decoction of the roots, fresh juice of the plant is used to stop wound and nose bleeding, and to resolve hemorrhages. Lotions and compresses from comfrey are used for bone fractures, dislocations, sprains and torn ligaments, which is also confirmed by the German National Health Service. The swelling disappears and the pain stops. Comfrey ointment has the same effect.\r



Instead of a decoction, you can make an ointment from freshly ground roots and melted lard in a ratio of 1: 1, which is stored in the refrigerator.\r

For the treatment of trophic ulcers, an ointment is prepared: take 1 part of crushed dry comfrey roots and 2 parts of dried horse chestnut flowers, mix well and slightly moisten with vodka until lightly clumping, hold for half an hour in a warm place, then pour 3-4 parts of freshly rendered interior pork fat and put in the oven for 2-3 hours, but not to boil, but to languish. Then take it out of the oven and boil for 5 minutes. After cooling to a temperature tolerable for the hands, squeeze the raw material strongly through the cotton fabric. Pour the resulting liquid into glass jars – this will be the ointment. It is abundantly smeared with linen cloths and applied to ulcers at night, covered with compress paper and bandaged. At the same time, take orally either an infusion or a tincture of comfrey root.\r

For rheumatoid joint lesions, polyarthritis, arthritis, arthrosis, gout, osteochondrosis, an ointment is prepared: they take comfrey rhizome powder and mix it with internal pork fat 1: 4. Lubricate painful areas with ointment followed by wrapping with warm woolen cloth.\r

Infusion on water


To prepare the infusion, it is better to use a thermos, since when boiling, some of the active components of the extract are destroyed. For compresses and lotions, take 2 tablespoons, and for oral administration – 1 tablespoon. crushed dry roots and pour a glass of boiling water in a thermos with a glass flask, keep the thermos open for 10 minutes, then close and infuse for 4-6 hours (you can leave it overnight). The infusion is filtered. This is the daily oral dose. Drink 1/3 of the infusion 3 times every day for 20-30 minutes. before meals. Also take 2 tablespoons 6 times every day before meals. Course 1-1.5 months\r

Infusion on milk


With bone tuberculosis, they do the same as on water, but in the morning strain the infusion and add 1 tbsp to the warm one. honey, 1 fresh domestic egg and 10 grams of any animal fat. Drink like a water infusion.\r



100 g of dry crushed roots pour 0.5 liters of vodka, leave for 2 weeks. Drink 30-40 drops per 50 ml of water 3 times every day before meals.\r

All that has been said above also applies to the use of comfrey in folk medicine. In the folk medicine of the Caucasus, a decoction of roots and poultices from the crushed root of hard comfrey are used for bruises, for the treatment of abscesses, purulent ulcers and wounds.\r

In homeopathic practice, Symphytum is prepared from fresh rhizomes dug up before the plant blooms. For internal use, dilution D6 is recommended. They give 3-5 times every day, 5-10 drops to stimulate the formation of callus in case of bone fractures, bruises, poorly healing wounds, blood flow disorders, as well as arthrosis and joint pain.\r

Side effects


All parts of the comfrey plant, as well as many other representatives of boranchikovye (black root officinalis, bruise, boletus), contain poisonous alkaloids cynoglosin and consolidin, which paralyze the central nervous system in large doses, therefore, its long-term use can cause complications. According to the guidelines of the German National Health Service, ingestion of products from comfrey rhizomes should be avoided. External use is indicated only with intact skin. You can not use it during pregnancy. Excluded from the list of medicinal plants approved for use in scientific medicine in a number of countries (Germany, France, Great Britain, etc.) due to unsafe effects on the liver and potential carcinogenicity.\r

Conclusion from the author 🙂


In general, an extremely curious and controversial plant.

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