This is the latest instalment in the “Discover your weeds” series. I’m a big fan of using natural treatments to heal my body, both internally and externally. In fact, I haven’t taken a single antibiotic or prescription drug in over 25 years, and not even any over-the-counter medication or even a simple aspirin in almost a decade (except when I had to get my impacted wisdom teeth removed, where I used a few ibuprofen – regular strength – on top of using homeopathy to complement the pain-management and healing process).
I hate it when people think that synthetic drugs are the only options for whatever ails them. I’m not against conventional western medicine, but I think it should be used in extreme life-or-death types of situations, definitely not the way that people have been pumping these drugs in the past few decades. Because of the over-use of medication, bacteria, viruses, germs, etc. have been getting stronger and stronger and resistant to these drugs, so the drugs have also been getting stronger and stronger in hopes to control nature; however, our bodies are not meant to have synthetic chemicals in them, and we are getting sick from them. This is becoming an alarming issue, and thankfully some organizations and some well-educated doctors are starting to speak out. It’s about time! 😉
So, on that note, I would like to introduce you to another amazing ointment that everyone should have in their First Aid kit, at home and on vacation. I always carry a little jar of it on me while away on vacation, because you never know…
So far, I’ve talked about the benefits of arnica and calendula, so today I’m sharing some info about comfrey. I use a pure organic comfrey ointment (in a base of organic olive oil, beeswax, and lavender oil) whenever I have deep tissue damage or trauma (like a nasty fall where you have a deep internal bruise, or might’ve damaged ligaments and cartilage), or even bone damage. It is extremely powerful and can even help to heal damaged cartilage and bones. I luckily have never broken any bones in my body, but I would totally use this if I did. Just like the other medicinal plants in my First Aid kit at home, I only use them if I need to, I don’t use any on a daily basis.
The leaves and stems of comfrey bristle with rough hairs, a characteristic it shares with other members of the borage family. Both this herb’s scientific and common names speak to its use in traditional herbal medicine. Comfrey may be a corruption of the Latin confirma, meaning “to make firm”, or confervere, meaning “to boil or grow together”. The genus name, Symphytum, comes from the Greek sympho, which has a similar meaning. Colloquial names such as knitbone, boneset, and bruisewort reflect comfrey’s use through many centuries to promote healing of bruises, sprains, fractures, and bones.
Comfrey has been used since at least the time of the ancient Greeks, perhaps as early as 400 B.C. The Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder (A.D. 23-79) discovered that when comfrey roots were boiled in water, a sticky paste was produced that could bind pieces of meat together. This finding seemed to underscore comfrey’s value in mending broken bones and torn flesh. Comfrey enjoyed great popularity during the Middle Ages. Widely cultivated, it was a mainstay in monastery gardens. The herb was applied externally, often as a poultice of leaves or roots, to help clear bruises, heal sprains and minor wounds, and mend broken bones. […] Comfrey was held in high esteem until the late 1970s, when research revealed that its leaves, and especially its roots, contain compounds called alkaloids that can cause severe liver damage when ingested. In light of these findings, many countries banned the internal consumption of comfrey products. Topical preparations of the herb, however, are considered safe.Comfrey ointments, creams, poultices, and liniments are applied to heal bruises, ease sore muscles, and speed the healing of fractures, sprains, and strains. Recently, comfrey has shown promise as a topical treatment for relieving acute upper or lower back pain.
Comfrey’s common names, boneset and knitbone, reflect its traditional use and historic reputation as a soother of painful joints and broken bones and a healer of damaged tissue. Comfrey contains allantoin, a chemical that helps tissues regenerate and heal, and rosmarinic acid, an anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving compound. […]
In a recent study, alcohol-based comfrey root extract with 99 percent of the dangerous alkaloids removed was incorporated into an ointment and used, over a 3-week period, on 220 people with osteoarthritis in their knees. When these subjects were compared with a placebo group, pain relief was noted – categorized as total, at rest, and with movement. Also noted was improvement in knee mobility and overall quality of life. This same extract was used in people with ankle sprains, findings also supported this use, showing it at least as effective as a commonly prescribed pharmaceutical gel used to control pain and swelling. Other topical preparations using extracts of species related to S. officinale were tested in people with back pain; improvements in mobility and pain relief supported comfrey’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.
Over the (kitchen) counter – Soothing salve
Mix 1 cup olive oil with 1 tablespoon each of dried comfrey leaves, lavender flowers, and calendula petals. Stir in top of a double-boiler for 40 minutes. Cool, strain, and reserve oil. Melt 1/4 cup beeswax in double-boiler. Stir in strained oil. Pour into salve tins.
(Source: National Geographic – Guide to medicinal herbs – The world’s most effective healing plants)