Comfrey is sometimes used as a mild analgesic. There are no justified indications for internal use and the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medicinal Products (BfArM) has banned the use of comfrey alkaloids for the treatment of gastritis, gastroduodenal ulcers and diarrhoea and there are no tea brands available containing comfrey. Comfrey is distinguished by large, hairy leaves, a curled inflorescence with white to purple bell-shaped flowers, and black roots. This is because comfrey contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). Although traditionally used internally for stomach ulcers, it has been found that comfrey does not cure ulcers. Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2005). The researchers measured aspartate aminotransferase (AST), gamma-glutamyltransferase (AST), bilirubin, and alpha-fetoptotein (AFP) as markers of liver inflammation, choleostasis, and cancer. External Healing. Pour the finished comfrey into a colbolt or amber colored bottle, label it and store it for future use. First, comfrey is only suggested for healthy individuals who have no history of liver disease or liver function issues, are not taking medications that reduce liver function, and are not pregnant or nursing. A comfrey tea or decoction can be used in the mouth as a rinse or gargle. When it comes to the internal use of comfrey, some herbalists are comfortable continuing to use comfrey internally with a few cautions. Nevertheless, sometimes the leaves are harvested and Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Topical herbal therapies for treating osteoarthritis. This is a question that herbalists have been debating since safety concerns were first brought to light regarding the potentially negative health effects associated with using comfrey internally. Comfrey is without a doubt a prime example of the healing paradox, and has been the subject of considerable debate in recent years. Traditionally, comfrey has been used for hundreds of years, both internally and externally. For internal application, comfrey is claimed to benefit gastritis and gastroduodenal ulcers, though its effects have never been demonstrated in controlled investigations. The UK finally restricted the internal use of comfrey root... saying that there are still too many unanswered questions. Since a chemical in isolation behaves differently than when present in a whole plant, rats are different than humans, different routes of administration can affect toxicity, and it is sometimes unclear which comfrey species (S. officinale or S. uplandicum) was used, there is dissension among herbalists regarding this decision and whether comfrey is indeed toxic to a healthy human (Hoffmann, 2003) when used in appropriate dosages and frequencies. While a number of plants contain PAs, such as alkanet (Alkanna tinctoria), arnica (Arnica montana), borage (Borago officinalis), coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), comfrey (Symphytum spp. Comfrey or Blackwort is used in health and its properties are almost the same as those of Borage. Comfrey is used as an aid for humans. Scientific Name: Symphytum officinale. Alternatives to comfrey tea for internal use. It can grow up to 5 feet tall. Comfrey is a shrub that grows in parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. Comfrey can also be made into a lovely soothing cream. Comfrey leaf is prized for its allantoin content, making it useful for tissue repair and cell regeneration. 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). As a tea, Comfrey is surprisingly used more for external applications rather than internal ones. Since a chemical in isolation behaves differently than when present in a whole plant, rats are different than humans, different routes of administration can affect toxicity, and it is sometimes unclear which comfrey species (. ) Do not use comfrey in the presence of active liver disease or in conjunction with medications that impair liver function. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 19. Anderson et al set out to determine if occult liver damage was … Although, liver damage can only be definitively determined by visual inspection of tissue obtained from a biopsy, serum markers for liver pathology are a good indication of liver disease. Over the years there has been some controversy regarding the internal use of this tea, despite it being uncommon to experience side effects while using this tea. Comfrey Medicinal Uses Comfrey has several medicinal actions. Is comfrey safe to use or not? Mix the juice with the leaf fibre, and seal it in a plastic bag before freezing. Soothing Comfrey Cream. In herbal medicine, it was used for treating tendon damage, broken bones, lung congestion, ulcerations in gastrointestinal tract, joint inflammation, lung congestion and also promotes wound healing. While comfrey is an herb with a long history of many different uses, its internal use has become quite controversial due to scientific studies, some dating back 40-60 years, that revealed potentially harmful effects of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) (Moreira et al., 2018), which are found in comfrey. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing. Dr. Kirschner used comfrey in his medical practice to promote the healing of ulcers and wounds. Poultices were made for external wounds and tea was consumed for internal ailments. For other herbalists who have chosen to play it safe with all PAs, they choose to limit comfrey to external use only through the use of preparations such as herb-infused oils, salves, and poultices. Because of this, it is often used to soothe hot, dry tissues, particularly those in the gastrointestinal, respiratory, and urinary tracts for digestive ulcers and diarrhea, coughs, or to ease symptoms associated with a urinary tract infection, respectively (Hoffmann, 2003; Tilgner, 2018). If you want to freeze comfrey leaves, I suggest you juice them first. Sign up for the Herbal Academy Newsletter, and we'll send you a free ebook. 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). I use 1/2 tsp of Comfrey and 1 tsp of Licorice Root to 2 cups of water. Comfrey illustration from Kohler’s Medicinal Plants, 1887. Yeong, M.L., Wakefield, S.J., & Ford, H.C. (1993). In this article, we will look at the benefits of comfrey and its traditional uses, its constituents and their physiological effects in the body, how comfrey is typically used internally and externally, and the safety facts that herbalists need to be aware of when using comfrey. MARY Sarvino@Gmail.com on June 10, 2016: I have three plants I received the root years … contain the more toxic macrocyclic diester PAs (Hoffmann, 2003) and higher levels of echimidine, which has exhibited a more toxic effect (Gardner & McGuffin, 2013). In addition, herb practitioners recommend comfrey capsules for the treatment of rheu-matoid arthritis, bronchitis, various allergies and for diarrhoea, regardless of the pathogenic cause. 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. I just saw your post here. There are many external uses that comfrey tea can be used for. Taken internally as decoction (boiled root tea), comfrey is described as effective against tuberculosis, internal tumors and ulcers, and promotes the healing of bone fractures. New York: CRC Press. Comfrey is banned for internal use in quite a few countries. Comfrey, a perennial herb native to the ditches and riverbanks of Europe, has long been used in traditional medicine. Comfrey tea can be taken internally or it can be used topically on any external inflammations. You can get around the comfrey problem for internal use as comfrey's active ingredient is allantoin. 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. While cases of veno-occlusive liver disease have been reported by individuals taking comfrey leaf or root, it is not known which species of comfrey was used, and dosage and frequency varied among individuals as well, thus making it difficult to come to a conclusion. Comfrey Root Tea - Not For Internal Use by TerraVita 25 tea bags: Currently not available for purchase. Symphytum officinale has been used for thousands of years in traditional Western herbalism for its valuable, healthful properties.Our comfrey root powder is ground from organically cultivated roots. Comfrey leaf is also high in tannins, giving it astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. Moreira, R., Pereira, D.M., Valentao, P., & Andrade, P.B. It is above all demulcent, emollient and mucilaginous; the root is slightly astringent. That being said, based on case reports of liver disease in individuals taking the leaf or root of unspecified. Comfrey leaf and root contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PLAs), a group of toxic compounds that can cause damage to the liver. For internal applications, comfrey has been used as infusions and extracts for the treatment of gastritis, gastroduodenal ulcers, and lung congestion ( Roeder, 1995 ). Herbal ABCs: The foundation of herbal medicine. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Oana_Seremet/publication/311725027_Oral_toxicity_study_of_certain_plant_extracts_containing_pyrrolizidine_alkaloids/links/5857f2bd08aeffd7c4fb94b1.pdf, Herbal ABCs: The foundation of herbal medicine. There is no reliable data to confirm or deny the FDA ruling that comfrey is unsafe to eat. Cameron, M., & Chrubasik, S. (2013). Comfrey is not recommended for use with deep wounds or unset bones. Comfrey preparations are made from the leaves or other parts of the plant grown above the ground. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010538. Comfrey Root Tea - Not For Internal Use by TerraVita 25 tea bags: Currently not available for purchase. If it is hard to understand how one simple, easy to grow and easy to apply plant can be so widely useful in healing, remember that penicillin’s supporters have made some pretty broad claims for the mold on oranges. (2013). In a 2006 short-term study using oral preparations of comfrey (S. officinale) root extract in mice and rats, no hepatic and biliary toxic effects were observed at the conclusion of the study; however, researchers did recommend that longer studies are needed to determine the safety of PA-containing plant extracts (Seremet et al., 2006). Romanian Journal of Morphology & Embryology, 57, (3), 1017-1023. Internal use has been prohibited in USA, Germany, United Kingdom and other European countries. Avoid using comfrey gratuitously. Allantoin makes it effective for softening skin and hair. Allow steeping for at least 10 minutes. Use comfrey for no more than 10 days in a row. A 2013 study concluded that a topical comfrey preparation probably eased osteoarthritis knee pain in a group of 220 participants (Cameron & Chrubasik, 2013). I wanted to say that I am a cancer survivor and I do owe it to my daily herbal regime. Not for Internal Use Although some herbalists continue the tradition of using comfrey internally, mainly through teas and infusions, my use of comfrey is strictly for external applications. British Journal of Cancer, 92(5), 873–875. International Journal of Experimental Pathology, 74(2), 211-217. ), not all PAs are toxic. It can grow up to 5 feet tall. While a number of plants contain PAs, such as alkanet (. Can and should one use comfrey (Symphytum spp.) Using comfrey as a herbal tea is an easy way of obtaining results. Comfrey is perfectly safe to use externally and is a first choice remedy for fractures and slow healing wounds. You can use comfrey leaves in tea, and you can use your comfrey in a bath. First, comfrey is only suggested for healthy individuals who have no history of liver disease or liver function issues, are not taking medications that reduce liver function, and are not pregnant or nursing. Comfrey leaves are succulent and difficult to dry at normal room temperatures. The leaves are high in potassium and make excellent fertilizer. That is something each individual must decide for oneself. Once they are fully dry use them to make this skin healing and pain relieving salve. While both comfrey leaf and root are well known for their mucilage content and associated demulcent action, the root is more demulcent than the leaf. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids: Chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology and food safety. used S. officinale, while Yeong et al. Veno-occlusive disease (VOD) manifesting in people using comfrey has been reported (see Case Reports). He ... (boiled root tea), comfrey is described as effective against tuberculosis, internal tumors and ulcers, and promotes the healing of bone fractures. Pour water over the tea leaves. There are a few who still throw caution to the wind and simply use it willy nilly as much as they wish. (Eds.). For internal applications, comfrey has been used as infusions and extracts for the treatment of gastritis, gastroduodenal ulcers, and lung congestion ( Roeder, 1995 ). Comfrey tea is readily available at most health stores. Use comfrey for no more than 10 days in a row. Oral toxicity study of certain plant extracts containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids. I think most people have heard the pyrrolizidine alkaloids found in many comfreiy products are problematic, and that we should be cautious about internal use of comfrey, or not use it at all. Comfrey tea is as old as our use of the herb for medicinal purposes. At this point, there are no clinical studies showing the link between PAs and liver toxicity when comfrey is taken at typical doses by healthy humans.