Russian Comfrey (Symphytum asperum)
Russian Comfrey is a fast growing and very useful perennial herb that is hardy to -15 degrees. It can easily be grown by root cuttings. Roots can be dug in the fall and divided by cutting into pieces with a sharp knife. Usually every piece of root will grow into a new plant. Comfrey will adapt to most growing conditions, but prefers moist, well drained fertile soil in full sun to partial shade. It produces bell shaped purple flowers in bunches on long hollow leaf stalks beginning in April and lasting through the summer. Cutting the stalks of spent flowers will extend the blooming time.
Comfrey is useful as food for livestock, compost tea and medicinally. Both the leaves and roots contain allantoin which is a cell proliferant, with the root being stronger. The leaf and root may be used fresh or dried. Comfrey is one of the most valuable herbs for treating sprains, torn ligaments, bruising, and any bone or tissue injuries. It can be used to heal cuts, boils and abscesses and to draw out the poison from insect and animal bites. A poultice of Comfrey leaf will draw out splinters or other foreign objects from under the skin. Poultices can be made by bruising fresh leaves or mixing a small amount of water with dried leaves and applying directly to the injury. Cover with a clean moist cloth or large band-aid. Keeping the poultice moist will help the Comfrey do its work. Do not use Comfrey on deep puncture wounds and cuts as it may cause the outer layer of skin to close and heal before the deeper tissue heals. When the wound has healed internally you can then use Comfrey to speed the healing. Oils and salves made with Comfrey leaf or root will promote quick healing.
There has been some controversy on the use of Comfrey internally. Inconclusive studies have suggested that Comfrey can be toxic to the liver when taken in large quantities. However, many Herbalists (including myself) believe that if Comfrey is used responsibly it is a valuable healing aid when used internally. Generally, Comfrey root is used for external applications while the leaf is used internally. A three week course of Comfrey leaf tea is considered harmless in people who are healthy and not pregnant or nursing. I suggest you research using Comfrey internally and make the choice for yourself. That being said, Comfrey is high in mucilage and is excellent for the treatment of coughs and pulmonary complaints. It has expectorant properties that are beneficial to the bronchials and lungs. I have personally used it mixed with Mullein and Lobelia in the treatment of whooping cough with awesome results. The doctor had told my son to expect to be off the football field for six to eight weeks. Less than two weeks later he was back playing football. I'm sure part of his quick recovery had to do with his love of playing football, but I have to give credit to his use of what I now call "Chest Tea". A strong tea is also valuable in cases of internal bleeding, whether it is from the lungs, stomach, intestines or hemorrhoids. Comfrey tea is very healing for stomach ulcers. Prairie Dawn Herbs offers Russian Comfrey grown organically in my gardens. I also offer herbal products that contain Comfrey including Chest Tea, Antiseptic Spray, Comfrey Oil, Antiseptic Salve, Awesome Salve, Painease Salve and Skin Heal Salve.
***Comfrey should not be used internally for more than three weeks at a time. Do not use Comfrey when pregnant or nursing. Ingesting large quantities of Comfrey or using large Comfrey poultices daily during pregnancy may be life threatening for the baby.