plantlore, potions, lotions and witchy makings

Comfrey *symphytum Officinale*

Comfrey is another one of those common plants we see everywhere but for whatever reason, it has fallen out of favour as a remedy in modern times. As soon as I started putting this piece together along with some balms and remedies to aid a friend (post to follow), it was suddenly required by 4 people in my life. I am, of course, always happy to oblige though it left my stores a little low and then…TAADAAA! Along comes an abundant wild patch I’ve never discovered before. Now is clearly the time for me to acquaint you with it.

Comfrey’s folk name is Knitbone (also,Boneset, knitback and bruisewort); a clue as to its uses. It has powerful healing properties including Allentoin, which increases white blood cell production and Mucilage which is an anti-inflammatory. I only use it as a topical remedy as regular internal use is not recommended due to its potential to be carcinogenic. That being said, the Greeks and Romans swore by it. Using the leaves for the insides and the roots for the outside. The roots contain more PA’s (pyrrolizidine alkaloids) which accumulate in the liver and has been linked with cancer. I use only the leaves.

Comfrey leaves

The most common method of using Knitbone is as a poultice to speed up the healing process. Simply mash some leaves with a tiny bit of water, apply to the area and wrap it up (I use a strip of linen). Other popular choices are as ointment and a soak (great in a bath blend for eczema).

Ground leafy goodness

I’m sure anyone reading this has enough common sense to know this, but I’ll say it here anyway: Herbal and folk remedies work in conjunction with modern medicine, not as a replacement, if you break a bone, GO TO A HOSPITAL!!! Comfrey can be used to ease symptoms and aid healing after. Its also great for burns, bruises, bites, rheumatism, skin complaints such as eczema and psoriasis and swelling.

2 more cautions here:

  • ensure any wound has been cleaned thoroughly, you don’t want anything trapped inside once it has healed.
  • do not apply on an open wound as you risk getting the potentially carcinogenic PA’s into your blood stream. other plants such as yarrow and plantain could be used to encourage clotting first.

Comfrey is also a gardeners friend; a potent and stinky fertilizer can be made by adding a handful of leaves to your watering can and leaving for a day or two. A handful of leaves can be added to activate a compost heap. It can be sacrificed to the slugs to protect other plants and when planted as a companion plant it grows a deep tap-root, bringing nutrients up for other plants.

Magical properties

Comfrey is associated with Saturn, the element of water, Capricorn and is sacred to Hecate. It has protective attributes, its name meaning ‘to attach’, it can be used to ensure things or people come back to you (a popular talisman to give to travelers), or to aid something becoming ‘un-attached’ by burning as an incense.

However you have need for it, I feel Comfrey is a valuable addition to any witches garden and apothecary, it grows with enthusiasm and wants to be useful. Bee’s love it, plants love it, I love it!

3 thoughts on “Comfrey *symphytum Officinale*”

  1. Brilliant stuff. They use it a lot here in Austria. It’s called “Schwarzwurze”
    – translated blackroot. (You do have to be careful with using it.) My husband’s grandmother would make her own ointment from the root. And even now many of the chemists make their own to sell. It helped my kids broken and fractured bones when they were young, as well as bruising.
    Great post. 😊

    Like

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