Comfrey has long been known as a heal-all herb. Its first recorded use was around 400 BC, by the Greeks and Romans, who used it to stop heavy bleeding and to heal wounds and sprains. It’s scientific name, Symphytum, means “to unite”, alluding to its unique ability to speed the recovery of broken skin and bones. And while it may sound too good to be true...this magical remedial herb can easily be grown in your backyard, and its properties can be harnessed in a simple healing salve!
Comfrey is a perennial herb that blooms in late spring and produces violet or blue flowers. It’s large leaves seem to grow endlessly, and the plant can reach up to five feet tall and four feet wide. It’s speedy growth will astound you. Because of its root system, it’s extremely drought tolerant, and does well with lots of sun and even with partial shade! Just plant it and watch it grow.
Because of the rapid growth of the comfrey plant, you can get many harvests out of one growth cycle. To get the most out of your harvests, wash and dry the leaves before dehydrating them and storing in a glass container in a dry place. When you’re ready to use them, make an infused oil and use it topically. Comfrey should never be used internally! While once used as a medicinal tea, recent research has shown that ingested comfrey can lead to liver disease and cancer.
To make an easy comfrey-infused oil:
Fill a large, glass jar ¾-full of dried comfrey leaves. Pour the carrier oil of your choice over the top of the comfrey until it fills the jar. Seal and store in a cool, dry place for a few days, or until the oil in the jar has turned a lovely green color.
Alternately, you can use a double-boiler on a low heat to combine your dried comfrey and oil. Stir occasionally for about a half an hour, or until you reach that same green color.
To make a healing comfrey salve with your infused oil:
8 oz comfrey-infused oil
1 oz beeswax
1 oz shea butter
10-20 drops essential oils like rosemary, eucalyptus, and/or lavender
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a double boiler. (In a pinch, you can combine them in the microwave!) Pour into a container and store in a cool, dry place. Use on sore muscles, sprains, strains, and minor skin irritations. Test the salve on a small patch of skin to be sure you don’t have any reactions!