Healing Weeds - Getting a closer contact with the healing world of herbs and wild plants.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Symphytum officinale

NL: Smeerwortel / F: Consoude 

Comfrey is another amazing perennial herb, essential to any herbal first aid kit as well as to any healthy organic and permaculture garden. 

Comfrey in the garden: it contains more Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) than most commercial fertilizers. Its long roots draw nutrients from deep in the soil and transfer it all to the leaves. The nutrient-rich leaves can then be used directly as a mulch, added to compost piles as a compost activator or chopped and added to a container with rain water to allow it to ferment and be later used as liquid compost. 

Comfrey not only enriches the soil but it can also speed up heat processes, which is pretty handy to have near and around fruit shrubs and other fruit trees or larger crops that require higher soil temperatures. Do not allow it to grow near to smaller plants, as it is a pretty strong, large and rather dominant plant.

it also comes in white
Comfrey as first aid herb: it has been used in folk medicine to help reduce bruising and to speed up tissue repair: broken bones and ligaments, damaged cartilage or connective tissue. Its tissue healing properties (mainly attributed to a substance called allantoin) are so strong that it is not advisable to be used in case of open wounds, as it risks “closing” the wound much faster than the time the body might need to get rid of any harmful microorganisms. It is also useful externally in the treatment of varicose veins, joints inflammation, to stop bleeding and in eye injuries. Its tincture or tea made out of the dried leaves or roots have been used internally to reduce heavy menstruation flow and to relieve gastric ulcers.

The leaves can be used freshly squeezed, dried and made into a strong tea or macerated in oil for 3-4 weeks, the drained oil can be used to make salves to be applied in bruises and rheumatic joints to help relieve pain and swelling.
hairy leaves and stems
Comfrey in the kitchen: it has also a long history of being used as an edible but in the light of recent studies this is no longer advised, since the plant contains varying amount of pyrrolizidine alkaloids - which are toxic. The young leaves contain little amounts of the harmful alkaloids and can therefore be consumed in moderate amounts (I personally would do that only in case where there is no other food source available). Dried leaves and roots can be made into tea and its roots can be roasted into coffee, such as with dandelion and chicory roots. 

More on Comfrey:

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