The Organic Garden
Comfrey has been known for centuries as a remarkable medicinal herb. It is known by a variety of names including “knit bone,” “boneset,” and “bruisewort.”
Traditionally comfrey was used – and is still used today as a wound healing herb.
Comfrey is high in a constituent called allentoin that makes a powerful wound healer when used externally.
Comfrey is one of my favourite plants and never ceases to amaze me!
You can prepare a comfrey herbal remedy in several different ways – the most popular being – infused oil, salves or poultices.
I wouldn’t be without comfrey. However, a word of caution. Comfrey should not be used on open wounds without thorough cleansing because it supports regrowth of damaged skin cells so rapidly it can potentially trap debris inside a wound which could cause abscesses to form.
Make your own comfrey infused oil – it’s so easy!
Oils infused with herbs are a fantastic way to utilise the beneficial properties of plants which contain volatile oils. Unlike essential oils they are gentle on the skin and easy to make at home. This infused oil can be used for massage to bring relief for wounds, arthritic joints and sprains. It also brings relief to inflamed bunions and a base for making a comfrey salve.
This method is very slow, taking up to 3 months to double infuse but it is well worth the wait. There are other ways to infuse the oil but this is my preferred method. Make a batch during spring and summer and store to use when required.
- Dried organic comfrey leaves (chopped)
- Olive oil
- Sterilized Mason jar (or similar)
- Sterilized bottle to hold about 16 oz of infused oil.
- Half fill the Mason jar with the dried comfrey leaves. Add the olive oil to within 2 inches of the neck of the jar. Cap and shake well. Allow to sit overnight.
- The next day top up the jar with a little more oil as the comfrey will have absorbed some and the level will have dropped.
- Stir to get rid of any air bubbles. A chopstick is a useful tool for this job.
- Allow to macerate for about six weeks in a warm light place such as a windowsill and shake the jar daily for the first three weeks.
- To decant – strain the contents of the Mason jar through the cheesecloth draped over a sieve. Squeeze the contents until the oil has stops dripping and then bottle the comfrey oil. I like to double infuse my oils so I repeat the process again using the infused oil I have just decanted with a fresh supply of dried comfrey. This of course is optional but obviously produces a more powerful infusion.
- I always like to add ½ teaspoon of vitamin E to my beauty and medicinal oils which serves as a natural preservative. (The contents of a couple of vitamin E capsules are fine).
- Label, date and store.
For external use only.
Use this oil as a base to make your own comfrey salves.
Comfrey salve can be made by heating 1 part beeswax pellets to 3 parts comfrey infused oil. Gently heat the beeswax and infused oil together in a double boiler, stir until blended and the beeswax has melted. Remove from the heat and pour into sterilised pots and allow to cool – the beeswax will thicken the infused oil as it cools. If the salve is too runny gently reheat adding more beeswax and if it is too solid reheat adding a little more infused oil. When you are happy with the consistency of the salve cap and label.
Proven effective for burns, bruises, skin irritations, scrapes, small cuts, arthritic joints, tendonitis, sprains and strains.
Remember; do not apply to open wounds.
Stored in a cool dry place this oil and salve will keep for up to 1 year.
Comfrey compress Steep ¼ cup of dried roots or leaves in 2 cups of hot water for 20 minutes. Strain and cool at room temperature. Immerse a clean, cotton cloth in the solution and apply to the bruised or sprained area for 1 hour up to four times a day.
Poultices have a similar action as compresses, but involve applying the whole herb, rather than a liquid extract. Poultices are used to ease nerve or muscle pain, sprains and swellings. Poultices can be applied hot or cold.
Comfrey leaf poultice is useful for sports injuries, muscle pains, swellings and fractures. Use externally on areas where there is any minor fracture – which would not usually be possible to mend using plaster. The best areas to apply this mash are broken ribs, toes or hairline cracks in any larger bone.
- Roughly chop 6 large fresh comfrey leaves or slightly moistened dried leaves or gummy boiled roots and place them in a blender. Add about ¼ cup of distilled or spring water and blend to a thick consistency. Heat gently or chill depending on your requirement. Cold poultices and compresses are used to withdraw heat from an inflamed area. A hot poultice is used to relax spasms and for some pains.
- Squeeze out any excess moisture and spread the mash thickly onto a cotton cloth or several layers of gauze and fold to make an envelope. Apply it to the affected area and secure with an elastic bandage. Leave in place for a few hours or overnight and repeat as required. A little olive oil applied to the area before applying the poultice will prevent any skin irritation that may arise from sensitivities to the plant.
- Dry your own comfrey leaves – it’s so easy!
- Harvest comfrey leaves when they are young and bright green, just before flowering. This is when the essential oils in the plant’s leaves are at their highest concentration. Prepare to harvest during the hottest part of the day when the moisture has evaporated from the leaves. Handle gently as they bruise easily.
- Cut the comfrey leaves from the plant with sharp pruning shears and collect them in a basket. Brush the leaves gently to remove any dirt, but do not wash the leaves or expose them to any unnecessary moisture.
- Arrange the leaves in a single layer on a screen or net drying trays. Do not overlap the leaves. Place in a warm well ventilated room for 3 – 4 days until thoroughly dried.
- Remove the dried comfrey leaves and gently crumble and remove the thick midrib from the centre. Transfer to an airtight container and store in a cool dry place for up to six months.
- Dry your own comfrey roots – it’s so easy! Dig up the roots in spring or autumn. Scrub and clean like a carrot. Cut into small slices. Put in a paper bag and hang to dry in a warm place, shaking the bag regularly.
- The root pieces will shrink and get darker. Store in a jar once completely dry. Label and use as required.
Herbs should not be used medicinally either internally or externally without advice from a qualified herbal practitioner. The information on this site and all publications connected with this site are for educational purposes only.