To make an ointment to use externally, take 1 cup of finely cut comfrey root and simmer in 1 cup of olive oil until it starts to soften. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Inc. Moreira, R., Pereira, D.M., Valentao, P., & Andrade, P.B. ), not all PAs are toxic. It is also important to know that some unsaturated PAs have been shown to be more toxic than others, with the macrocyclic retronecine diesters (e.g., senecionine) being more toxic than the retronecine monoesters (e.g., symphytine and echimidine) (Hoffmann, 2003; Rode, 2004). You not only CAN use the leaves, but SHOULD do so. New York: CRC Press. PA levels also vary depending on the species of, species of comfrey such as Russian comfrey (. ) Foxglove leaves spring from the root as a clump, while comfrey … Saturated PAs are considered non-toxic, while unsaturated PAs are considered toxic (Hoffmann, 2003). However, it’s during this detoxification process that an oxidative reaction occurs, which results in the formation of toxic metabolites known as pyrrole-like intermediates—these are the true cause of comfrey’s toxic effect as these metabolites bind to proteins, RNA, and DNA and are the primary cause of the hepatotoxicity that causes liver damage (Hoffmann, 2003). A 2013 study concluded that a topical comfrey preparation probably eased osteoarthritis knee pain in a group of 220 participants (Cameron & Chrubasik, 2013). Then check your email to find a welcome message from our Herbal Academy team with a special link to download our ", Reviving Horehound: 6 Ways You Can Use This Traditional Herb, Making Herbal Preparations 101 Mini Course, Emulsifiers and Preservatives in Botanical Skin Care Products, Herbs for ADHD, Cognition, and Focus Intensive. In closing, we here at the Herbal Academy suggest erring on the side of caution and avoiding comfrey for internal use, particularly in the case of preexisting liver conditions, those taking medications that may affect liver function, during pregnancy, and while nursing. used, While it can be helpful for herbalists to take these studies into account, it should be noted that the majority of research involved isolating PAs and injecting them at various concentrations, often very high concentrations, into rats. Generally speaking eat a healthy diet. The leaves also are similar -- large and hairy. It grows as a root stick with branches coming from the stalk and only gets to about 2–3 feet tall. Comfrey Fertilizer and Mulch. Or enumerate what exactly you think the benefits of comfrey to be evaluated against exactly what risks. PA toxicity occurs when unsaturated PAs are absorbed from the intestines and passed to the liver to be metabolized. > (BTW - Ignore any posts that follow from the resident afh scaremongers. A sterile cultivar is frequently planted in gardens, somewhat reducing the probability of escape, although it easily spreads from root fragments. (Note that Mei et al. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 5, CD010538. While a small amount of comfrey’s PAs may be absorbed through the skin, when used within the guidelines stated above, the amount is believed to be limited and, therefore, safe to use (Groves, 2016; Hoffmann, 2003). Comfrey is most commonly taken as a tea, a tincture or a poultice. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Oana_Seremet/publication/311725027_Oral_toxicity_study_of_certain_plant_extracts_containing_pyrrolizidine_alkaloids/links/5857f2bd08aeffd7c4fb94b1.pdf. A strong decoction, or tea, is recommended in cases of internal haemorrhage, whether from the lungs, stomach, bowels or from bleeding piles -to be taken every two hours till the haemorrhage ceases, in severe cases, a teaspoonful of Witch Hazel extract being added to the Comfrey root tea. Comfrey used to be used extensively for tuberculosis and irritating dry lung complaints in general. Herbalists also choose comfrey species that are known to contain less toxic PAs. (2013). Goldenseal herb vs. root. Because comfrey plants grow so rapidly, feel free to harvest the leaves several times a season. http://www.henriettes-herb.com - Copyright 1995–2020 Henriette Kress. Therefore, applying a poultice made of comfrey root powder and leaf juice, or drinking tea made of comfrey root powder can greatly help in curing nosebleeds, bleeding in skin wounds, and in reducing and speeding the healing of bruises. Some studies show the leaf to be almost alkaloid free -- thus safe. While it can be helpful for herbalists to take these studies into account, it should be noted that the majority of research involved isolating PAs and injecting them at various concentrations, often very high concentrations, into rats. Can and should one use comfrey (Symphytum spp.) Common comfrey is found escaped from cultivation in all New England states. However, as we’ve come to learn more about PAs and their effects on human and animal health, some herbalists have changed their approach to using PA-containing herbs, including comfrey. The drugs were not considered as possibilities. Topical herbal therapies for treating osteoarthritis. Wrap it with cloth or a bandage to hold it in place. While the comfrey plant has its roots in Europe, it grows in many areas of the world. Groves, M.N. There are also disagreements about the efficacy & safety of leaves vs. root. The toxic effect of PAs is not a new phenomenon, and many cases of PA poisoning, from mild to severe and even fatal, have been reported (Hoffmann, 2003); however, the toxic effect of PAs in comfrey is where the debate is focused. Depending on their molecular structure, PAs can be either saturated (such as those found in arnica and echinacea) or unsaturated (such as those found in alkanet, borage, coltsfoot, and comfrey). It's been online since 1995, and is run by Henriette Kress, a herbalist in Helsinki, Finland. Readers must do their own research concerning the safety and usage of any herbs or supplements. Even though this plant contains poisonous chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), some people use the leaf, root, and root-like stem (rhizome) to make medicine. You use the term US I notice? It is the tannin that is solely responsible for making comfrey herb so effective in controlling bleeding. AHPA reports that in Germany, the recommended external application of comfrey is a daily exposure at or below 100 μg unsaturated pyrrolizidine alkaloids limited to 4 to 6 weeks per year (Gardner & McGuffin, 2013). In fact, topical applications of comfrey leaf can stimulate such prolific cell regeneration that it’s not recommended for use on deep wounds as it can promote surface-level tissue repair before the inner parts of the wound heal, thus creating an environment for bacterial growth and potential infection. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing. In the compost pile, comfrey leaves help speed the decomposition of tree leaves, grass clippings and other organic materials. Information about Comfrey leaf constituents presented as an equivalent to alcohol/tobacco masquerading under the freedom of informed choice ( as used by all trendy ultra conservatives) amounts to guilt by association - a standard tactic of what I call scaremongering. International Journal of Experimental Pathology, 74(2), 211-217. By default both of these usually become scaremongering contributors. Its use as a medicinal herb is controversial as it is known to contain toxic alkaloids. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 5, , CD010538. The third case involves a woman who overdosed: 10 cups of comfrey tea a day & handsful of comfrey pills. Comfrey poultices should be left in place for several hours (overnight is ideal). The jury is still out however, so err on the safe side and use herb for internal use, not the root. Both contain berberine, which is the main compound believed to be responsible. Cameron, M., & Chrubasik, S. (2013). The common comfrey plant is known in Latin as Symphytum officinale and displays a “hairy” exterior. It has a tap root similar to dandelions. The Herbal Academy supports trusted organizations with the use of affiliate links. From: jtreasure.jonno.demon.co.uk (Jonathan Treasure) Pyrrolizidine alkaloids: Chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology and food safety. Comfrey, Symphytum uplandica x Herbal Adventures with Susun S Weed by Susun S. Weed read other Herbal Adventures part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 . Cameron, M., & Chrubasik, S. (2013). It is believed that the pyrrole-like intermediates damage sinusoidal and epithelial cells, which occludes blood flow to the liver tissue, eventually resulting in tissue death (Mills & Bone, 2005). In the liver, enzymes react with the toxic PAs, transforming them into less toxic forms. You can also try using comfrey as mulch or as a compost enhancer. King's Dispensatory writes 'Comfrey root is very useful in diarrhoea, dysentery, bronchial irritation, coughs, hemoptysis, other pulmonary affections, leucorrhoea, and female debility. PA levels also vary depending on the species of Symphytum. Your comments however simply constitute part of the problem of scaremongering, not part of the solution. American Herbal Products Association’s botanical safety handbook, Body into balance: An herbal guide to holistic self-care, Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine, Mei, N., Guo, L., Fu, P.P., Heflich, R.H., & Chen, T. (2005). The high content of antioxidants, as well as vitamin C, makes comfrey pastes and salves the ideal solution for speeding up the healing of wounds. Well Dan, the point is what is your agenda? Comfrey is a plant. Chug a big bottle of Bacardi 151 Rum, and you die. This is the biggest difference between natural vs… While most supplements are made from the root, research suggests that herb uses (the leaves) may be better for antibacterial activity. whose agenda is to rubbish the use of herbal medicine one way or another. Comfrey Cream. ), and echinacea (Echinacea spp. Moreira, R., Pereira, D.M., Valentao, P., & Andrade, P.B. Depending on their molecular structure, PAs can be either saturated (such as those found in arnica and echinacea) or unsaturated (such as those found in alkanet, borage, coltsfoot, and comfrey). The herb’s leaves are easy to use as mulch. From: jtreasure.jonno.demon.co.uk (Jonathan Treasure), >If one promptly died from drinking comfrey leaf tea, there would be less. What is Comfrey? Anyway, using comfrey leaf poultice, salve, etc., is not dangerous. Affiliate links are shared throughout the website and the Herbal Academy may receive compensation if you make a purchase with these links. Comfrey is sometimes used as a mild analgesic. Pleasant Hill, OR: Wise Acres Publishing. Animal studies on the internal use of comfrey are plentiful but often show mixed results. Hoffmann, D. (2003). Infected Wounds. Saturated PAs are considered non-toxic, while unsaturated PAs are considered toxic (Hoffmann, 2003). Sign up for the Herbal Academy Newsletter, and we'll send you a free ebook. Comfrey ROOT has been implicated in the pyrrolizidine alkaloid link with occlusive liver disease. Newsgroups: alt.folklore.herbs Hepatocyte membrane injury and bleb formation following low dose comfrey toxicity in rats. Read my notes in the FAQ for a starter. I like to also add one teaspoon of DMSO. spp. To inform the public that comfrey leaves contain pa's that are both carcinogens and liver toxins does not make us scaremongers, either. You not only CAN use the leaves, but SHOULD do so. 10. Much debate surrounds the safety of comfrey due to various parts … So, it is with that background that i ask for your input on a critical permaculture issue: embracing comfrey. Dosages of Comfrey: Historically daily doses of leaf ranged from 5 … It is often grown in medicinal gardens or for use as a natural fertilizer. (2018). Its analgesic action could be due to its alkaloid content, but it could also be due to the astringent, anti-inflammatory, and demulcent properties as well. Whether astride a horse in Provence, climbing a volcano in Costa Rica, taking a jet plane to New Zealand, or just spending a quiet day in my gardens, I am never without my herbal first-aid kit. contain the more toxic macrocyclic diester PAs (Hoffmann, 2003) and higher levels of echimidine, which has exhibited a more toxic effect (Gardner & McGuffin, 2013). International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 19(6), 1668. doi:10.3390/ijms19061668, Seremet, O.C., Barbuceanu, F., Ionica, F.E., Margina, D.M., Gutu, C.M.,Olaru, O.T., … Chirita, C. (2006). (Eds.). On the other hand, other studies using rats that were given isolated PAs from comfrey root or young leaf, both of which have higher levels of PAs than mature comfrey leaf (Mills & Bone, 2005), have shown to be toxic when given in both low and high concentrations (Mei et al., 2005; Yeong et al., 1993). Romanian Journal of Morphology & Embryology, 57(3), 1017-1023. Yeong, M.L., Wakefield, S.J., & Ford, H.C. (1993). 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