Comfrey tea is also the way gardeners commonly refer to the liquid organic fertilizer made with the leaves of this herb. The Herbal Academy makes neither medical claim, nor intends to diagnose or treat medical conditions. (Public Domain) Safe Use. Medical records dating back to the Middle Ages commonly make reference to herbalists prescribing comfrey for a wide range of ailments, and up until the 20th century, it was considered to be “one of nature’s greatest medicinal herbs.” Dr. Kirschner used comfrey in his medical practice to promote the healing of ulcers and wounds. When herbs are used in place of drugs, the pharmaceutical companies lose money. Saturated PAs are considered non-toxic, while unsaturated PAs are considered toxic (Hoffmann, 2003). Comfrey or Blackwort is used in health and its properties are almost the same as those of Borage. International Journal of Experimental Pathology, 74(2), 211-217. Comfrey Contraindications. For internal applications, comfrey has been used as infusions and extracts for the treatment of gastritis, gastroduodenal ulcers, and lung congestion (Roeder, 1995). 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. This gorgeous plant makes a popular herbal infusion, long used to treat a number of ailments. Long term internal use is discouraged due to the potential of toxic alkaloids. Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2005). Heat 1 cup of water to just shy of boiling. ), and echinacea (Echinacea spp. The herb has become a topic of considerable debate, as it contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), which have been shown to pose a real risk of hepatotoxicity. Discover the fascinating art of making your own herbal remedies in this FREE online course. The following reports are from the late 1980's and early 1990's. More Photographs below. While many herbalists have used comfrey internally for years with no known problems, others are heeding the warnings that stem from the conclusions of modern scientific studies on the internal use of comfrey. Hepatocyte membrane injury and bleb formation following low dose comfrey toxicity in rats. He ... (boiled root tea), comfrey is described as effective against tuberculosis, internal tumors and ulcers, and promotes the healing of bone fractures. Gardner, Z., & McGuffin, M. ), not all PAs are toxic. Comfrey is perfectly safe to use externally and is a first choice remedy for fractures and slow healing wounds. Traditionally, comfrey has been used for hundreds of years, both internally and externally. Humans have consumed comfrey widely as a vegetable and have taken comfrey formulations of tea or tablets. The Herbal Academy supports trusted organizations with the use of affiliate links. Once they are fully dry use them to make this skin healing and pain relieving salve. While a number of plants contain PAs, such as alkanet (. That being said, based on case reports of liver disease in individuals taking the leaf or root of unspecified. Their opinions were given after one crude experiment where a group of pigs were fed large amounts of comfrey for 3 months. Comfrey illustration from Kohler’s Medicinal Plants, 1887. 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). Comfrey is a shrub that grows in parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. It is known as a vulnerary and as an astringent. Comfrey as a natural hair rinse. Comfrey is even believed to help decrease inflammation of tendon sheaths (Tilgner, 2018), supporting its use for joint sprains. Case Reports of Toxicity with Internal Use of Comfrey. (Note that Mei et al. However, in recent years, because of safety concerns, most … Comfrey tea is as old as our use of the herb for medicinal purposes. More Photographs below. PAs can also found in honey, grains, milk, offal and eggs. This herb has been utilized in folk medicine throughout Europe and North America and has been widely cultivated. Oral toxicity study of certain plant extracts containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids. However, the extent of this risk has not been determined and there is a great deal of evidence suggesting safe use in humans is possible. Mei, N., Guo, L., Fu, P.P., Heflich, R.H., & Chen, T. (2005). Comfrey leaves are succulent and difficult to dry at normal room temperatures. Allantoin makes it effective for softening skin and hair. Mix the juice with the leaf fibre, and seal it in a plastic bag before freezing. The publication of the rodent toxicity studies in the 1970's and 1980's led to the obvious question of comfrey safety in humans. The publication of the rodent toxicity studies in the 1970's and 1980's led to the obvious question of comfrey safety in humans. Tilgner, S.M. Oral toxicity study of certain plant extracts containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Most medical herbalists I know will politely to vigorously disagree, but the law restricts the root. Certain types of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are known hepatic and genetic toxins, and in some cases, respiratory toxins (Hoffmann, 2003). You can chop the leaves and dry in a dehydrator on low heat or in a warm oven. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 5, , CD010538. Information offered on Herbal Academy websites is for educational purposes only. New York: CRC Press. Cooled tea is used to treat bruises and burns; it soothes the damaged skin, stops the itch, prevents infection, and speeds healing. Hot comfrey tea is wonderful for a cough, especially with a bit of raw honey. Soothing Comfrey Cream. But dried comfrey can be used with success as well. 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. Since comfrey leaf was a commonly available tea in both the United States and the United Kingdom and many people had been consuming it for years, there was a readily available exposed population. It is used as a tea or vegetables by humans. A 2013 study concluded that a topical comfrey preparation probably eased osteoarthritis knee pain in a group of 220 participants (Cameron & Chrubasik, 2013). Readers must do their own research concerning the safety and usage of any herbs or supplements. Protecting those whose health is already compromised, and who are using many other substances, totally unsupervised, and without the proper information. I sweeten it with a few drops of honey and drink each morning. Comfrey is not recommended for internal use because of the liver damage caused by its pyrrolizidine alkaloids. (2018). Pleasant Hill, OR: Wise Acres Publishing. (2018). There are things you can do to ensure you’re using comfrey responsibly and as safely as possible. Comfrey is banned for internal use in quite a few countries. Most people only recommend topical use of comfrey, as there have been some traditional suggestions for internal use when done properly. There are two things you could try – create a compress – using comfrey leaf, make a tea, soak a cloth in the tea, and then apply to the bruise. Anderson et al set out to determine if occult liver damage was … Comfrey is a shrub that grows in parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. Hepatocyte membrane injury and bleb formation following low dose comfrey toxicity in rats. Yes, this is a weak tea by most standards. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Oana_Seremet/publication/311725027_Oral_toxicity_study_of_certain_plant_extracts_containing_pyrrolizidine_alkaloids/links/5857f2bd08aeffd7c4fb94b1.pdf. Despite safety concerns, comfrey is used by mouth for stomach ulcers, heavy menstrual periods, diarrhea, bloody urine, cough, bronchitis, cancer, and chest pain (angina). In a 2006 short-term study using oral preparations of comfrey (, ) 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). Comfrey leaf has been used since Roman times, dating back thousands of years. It primarily grows in marshes and wet soil. What you need is to dissolve allantoin, which is not soluble in water. PA levels vary depending on the plant part used, with roots containing higher levels of PAs than mature leaves (Gardner & McGuffin, 2013; Mills & Bone, 2005). Their opinions were given after one crude experiment where a group of pigs were fed large amounts of comfrey for 3 months. Comfrey Medicinal Uses Comfrey has several medicinal actions. The compounds in comfrey’s leaves and roots--pyrrolizidine alkaloids--are toxic and may damage the liver, cautions UMMC. Seremet, O.C., Barbuceanu, F., Ionica, F.E., Margina, D.M., Gutu, C.M.,Olaru, O.T., … Chirita, C. (2006). Do not use comfrey in the presence of active liver disease or in conjunction with medications that impair liver function. Alternatives to comfrey tea for internal use. I use 1/2 tsp of Comfrey and 1 tsp of Licorice Root to 2 cups of water. Can and should one use comfrey (Symphytum spp.) North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing. Do not take internally. Perhaps one of the easiest ways to use comfrey is in a tea. In order to determine risk, the characteristics of the plant material used (root or leaf, young or old) and the health status of the individual human need to be considered. International Journal of Experimental Pathology, 74, Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window), Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window), Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window), Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window), Please add your email address below and click "Submit" to add yourself to our mailing list. Affiliate links are shared throughout the website and the Herbal Academy may receive compensation if you make a purchase with these links. However, health officials now strongly discourage any internal use of comfrey. 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. It primarily grows in marshes and wet soil. There are a few who still throw caution to the wind and simply use it willy nilly as much as they wish. The risk of liver damage to any one individual is dependent on that person's nutritional status, their current use of hepatotoxic drugs as well as intake of food/drugs that effect liver metabolism. 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 is an herb that grows in temperate areas of western Asia, Europe, Australia and North America. Comfrey is without a doubt a prime example of the healing paradox, and has been the subject of considerable debate in recent years. While comfrey pills are no longer available, the plant itself is not a controlled substance. Allow steeping for at least 10 minutes. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Inc. Moreira, R., Pereira, D.M., Valentao, P., & Andrade, P.B. used S. officinale, while Yeong et al. Traditionally called knitbone or boneset, the tea was reportedly used by ancient Greeks and Romans to heal injuries after a bad fall or accident. Comfrey leaves are succulent and difficult to dry at normal room temperatures. The United States FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not allow for internal use to be recommended or suggested on labels. Comfrey contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids that makes it toxic and can harm the liver. Hoffmann, D. (2003). For centuries, comfrey was considered a safe medicine, and in some cases even a food. You can chop the leaves and dry in a dehydrator on low heat or in a warm oven. spp. Cher D. on June 22, 2016: I have comfrey powder, how would i make a poultice? I make a tea of Comfrey and LIcorice Root. If you want to freeze comfrey leaves, I suggest you juice them first. Then check your email to find a welcome message from our Herbal Academy team with a special link to download our "Herbal Tea Throughout The Seasons" Ebook! The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 5, CD010538. (Eds.). (Eds.). 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). Why Do Herbalists Use Comfrey Then? Comfrey as a natural hair rinse. Internal Use of Comfrey. Despite this toxicity, scientific studies have also revealed that some types of PAs have several beneficial pharmacological properties, such as antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-HIV activity, as well as the ability to inhibit acetylcholinesterase enzyme (Moreira et al., 2018). Sign up for the Herbal Academy Newsletter, and we'll send you a free ebook. Alternatives to comfrey tea for internal use Comfrey was historically recommended internally to support healing when there is a dry cough or connective tissue injury (bone and skin). Individuals should seek the advice of a healthcare provider or trained herbal specialist before using it. The presence of PAs in comfrey does present a health risk to humans that ingest it. Links to external sites are for informational purposes only. I make a tea of Comfrey and LIcorice Root. © 2004 Dorena Rode       Acknowledgment. Comfrey is not recommended for use with deep wounds or unset bones. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Folk recipes mention using comfrey root tea to cure stomach upset and eating comfrey leaves fresh or cooked as a general tonic. Individuals in the study had been using 0.5 to 25 grams of comfrey leaf per day for 1 to 30 years. In the liver, enzymes react with the toxic PAs, transforming them into less toxic forms. At least externally the root's OK here & the leaves can still be used as tea or poultice. Comfrey can be bought and grown at home. Comfrey is used as an aid for humans. Patients with hypersensitivity or allergic reactions to the plant should also avoid external use. I sweeten it with a few drops of honey and drink each morning. For this reason, most of the benefits for this tea involve external uses. Body into balance: An herbal guide to holistic self-care. 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. Romanian Journal of Morphology & Embryology, 57(3), 1017-1023. (2013). Allantoin makes it effective for softening skin and hair. Topical herbal therapies for treating osteoarthritis. 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. Comfrey is an herb with a long reputation for healing wounds and mending broken bones. Comfrey is Excellent for Healing Bruises 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. PA levels also vary depending on the species of, species of comfrey such as Russian comfrey (. ) Pyrrolizidine alkaloids: Chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology and food safety. It has had various uses, not only as a medicinal herb but also as food and drink. It can grow up to 5 feet tall. There have been no recent reports in the literature of adverse reaction to comfrey despite continued use of this plant as a food and drug. CAUTION: The leaves contain an alkaloid that may be toxic to the liver, so it is not recommended for internal use Comfrey tea can be taken internally or it can be used topically on any external inflammations. British Journal of Cancer, 92(5), 873–875. Find out what type and part of the plant is being used in the preparation. Moreira, R., Pereira, D.M., Valentao, P., & Andrade, P.B. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6602420. Comfrey is not recommended for internal use because of the liver damage caused by its pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Although traditionally used internally for stomach ulcers, it has been found that comfrey does not cure ulcers. Comfrey has been used both internally (as a demulcent) and externally (as a vulnerary). Common Names: Blackwort, bruisewort, common comfrey, knitbone, slippery root, boneset, yalluc, gum plant, ass ear.
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