Comfrey Herbal Medicine

Comfrey Uses, Health Benefits and Side effects

What is Comfrey Comfrey is a flowering plant that is native in Europe and Asia. It is used used to treat bronchial problems...(more)
Coltsfoot flower

Comfrey used in medicine. Used to treat dry coughs, emphysema, asthma, skin sores and ulcers...(more)

Comfrey side effects and warnings. Comfrey may be toxic if taken in large dosage, doctor supervision is advised...(more)

What is Comfrey

comfrey flowerScientific name: Symphytum officinale L.

Common Names: Comfrey (Engl.), Komprey (Tag.), Slippery root (Engl.), Black root (Engl.), Symphytum radix (Engl.)

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale L.) is a perennial herb of the family Boraginaceae that grows in moist and damp areas and is native to Europe and temperate parts of Asia. Comfrey grows to about 5 feet in height, has thick hairy stem, black, turnip-like root with whitish juicy flesh. Comfrey has large, hairy broad leaves; shapes may differ according to the position of the stem. Comfrey bears small bell-shaped flowers of various colors, typically cream, blue or purplish arranged in clusters. The more common is the Russian comfrey which is a hybrid between S. offinale and S. asperum, termed Symphytum × uplandicum. The Russian comfrey is widely found in the British Isles, Ireland and other European countries.

Comfrey has been in use for centuries, where references of its use dated back to early sixteenth century. Comfrey is traditionally used to treat wounds and bone fractures.

Comfrey contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids that makes it toxic and can harm the liver. Internal use has been prohibited in USA, Germany, United Kingdom and other European countries.

Comfrey preparations are made from the leaves or other parts of the plant grown above the ground. New leaves tend to have more of the poisonous pyrrolizidine alkaloids than older leaves. Some preparations were also made from the roots, but roots contain up to 16 times the amount of pyrrolizidine alkaloids.


Comfrey Constituents

  • Pyrrolizidinealkaloids (PA)
    • symphytine,
    • symlandine,
    • echimidine,
    • intermidine,
    • lycopsamine,
    • myoscorpine,
    • acetyllycopsamine,
    • acetylintermidine,
    • lasiocarpine,
    • heliosupine,
    • viridiflorine, and
    • echiumine.
  • Inulin,
  • arabinose,
  • glucoronic acid,
  • mannose,
  • rhamnose,
  • xylose.
  • tannins
  • Triterpenes:
  • sitosterol,
  • stigmasterol,
  • steroidal saponins
  • isobauerenol
  • allantoin,
  • caffeic acid,
  • carotene,
  • chlorogenic acid,
  • choline,
  • lithospermic acid,
  • rosmarinic acid
  • silicic acid.

Comfrey, herbal medicine - Health Benefits

comfreyComfrey has been known for centuries as herb that has variety of health benefits. The traditional use of comfrey included the intake of comfrey herbal tea. But recent studies have shown that comfrey contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids a substance that can damage the liver thus internal intake has been discouraged. Comfrey nowadays is limited only to topical application. But the traditional uses included the following

  • Comfrey has been used to treat intestinal disorders, including diarrhea, dysentery even intestinal ulcers.
  • Comfrey is used to treat pulmonary ailments, bleeding hemorrhage and bleeding of gums.
  • Comfrey is used as mild sedative, astringent and expectorant
  • Comfrey is also reputed to aid the strong development of bones and teeth in children
  • Comfrey is used to treat menstrual problems
  • Comfrey is used to treat variety of skin problems that included cuts, wounds, boils, pimples, burns, sores and ulcers.
  • Comfrey is well known to aid the healing of sprains and bone fractures by minimizing the inflammation and promoting cell regeneration.
  • Comfrey is also used as an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial treatment.

the British Journal of Sports Medicine conducted a study on comfrey activity against back pain. Results have shown that there is a considerable difference between comfrey extract and placebo group. Comfrey extract caused a 95.2 percent decrease in perceived pain during standard movements and it produced the pain-relieving effects rapidly.

Comfrey’s therapeutic activity is attributed to its content of allantoin, a cell proliferant, and rosmarinic acid, that speed up the replacement of body cells. Allantonin is also an anti-inflammatory agent that prevents microvascular injury. Allantonin are well absorbed by the skin penetrating deeply into the body.

Comfrey Herb Scientific Studies

Bleakley CM, McDonough SM, MacAuley DC. Some conservative strategies are effective when added to controlled mobilisation with external support after acute ankle sprain: a systematic review. Aust J Physiother. 2008;54(1):7-20.

D'Anchise R, Bulitta M, Giannetti B. Comfrey extract ointment in comparison to diclofenac gel in the treatment of acute unilateral ankle sprains. Arzneimittelforschung. 2007;57(11):712-6.

Grube B, Grunwald J, Krug L, Staiger C. Efficacy of comfrey root (Symphyti offic. radix) extract ointment in the treatment of patients with painful osteoarthritis of the knee: results of a double-blind randomized, bicenter, placebo-controlled trial. Phytomedicine. 2007;14(1):2-10.

Koll R, Klingenburg S. Therapeutic characteristance and tolerance of topical comfrey preparations. Results of an observational study of patients. Fortschr Med Orig. 2002;120(1):1-9.

Ridker PM, Ohkuma S, McDermott WV, Trey C, Huxtable RJ. Hepatic venocclusive disease associated with the consumption of pyrrolizidine-containing dietary supplements. Gastroenterology. 1985;(88):1050-1054.

Weston CFM, Cooper BT, Davies JD, et al. Veno-occlusive disease of the liver secondary to ingestion of comfrey. Br Med J. 1987;295:183.

Yeong ML, Swinburn B, Kennedy M, Nicholson G. Hepatic veno-occlusive disease associated with comfrey ingestion. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 1990;5(2):211-214.

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Comfrey, availability, Dosage and use

Uses, Dosage and Availability

  • Dried comfrey leaves and roots are available in most herbal or Chinese medicine stores. Online avalialbity : Comfrey dried Leaf from Starwest Botanicals
  • Comfrey poultice may be prepared using fresh or dried leaves and roots of common comfrey and applied directly to affected area.
  • Comfrey products designed for oral intake are banned in the U.S. Germany, UK and other European countries.
  • Comfrey may also be found in a variety of cosmetic and health products as one of its ingredients
  • Comfrey ointments, creams and liniments for topical use are available in most health stores. For online availability check Comfrey Comfort Lotion


Comfrey Side effects and warnings

Side Effects and Warnings

Comfrey contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids a toxic substance that can damage the liver and even cause death.

Take internally only upon direct supervision of a health practitioner.

Internal use is discouraged.

Comfrey constituents are well absorbed into the skin. Do not use for more than 10 days.

Not recommended for young children

Not recommended for pregnant or breast feeding mothers.

Not recommended for people with liver problem.


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