Gorgeous, isn't it? Large, lanceolate leaves covered with soft bristles that grow in an almost rosette formation. Bell shaped purple blossoms hang down enticing bees to gorge themselves. And, once Comfrey is in the garden, it's there forever, spreading easily (which The Nerd has discovered. Sigh.) But oh my goodness, it's a herbal powerhouse. Everyone should have this in their garden!
🌼 What's is Used For? Bruises Sprains Broken bones Inflammation Arthritis Gout Ulcers & Gut issues. Makes harvesting potatoes easier. In the olden days (no, not when The Nerd was young, thank you very much) it was used for tuberculosis and lung complaints.
🌼 What's in it? Feel free to skip this part because further on there's information on how to harvest it, dry it, and use it.
Allantoin is the quiet leader in the healing capabilities of the plant. It promotes connective tissue growth and is able to penetrate deeper. While it occurs naturally in the body, a little bit of help is always appreciate when needed.
Comfrey contains more mucilage than the Marshmallow plant. Althea officinalis is reknowned for helping with coughs, gut health, and wound healing. So rather interesting that good old Comfrey contains more as it might explain its historical use with lung complaints and gut issues.
Pyrrolizidine alkaloids. One of the active constituents that promote healing. The radix contains more than the folia (fancy words for root and leaves.) Symphytum officinalis gets a bad reputation for containing these alkaloids, with much fear surrounding its use. A lot of research has gone into how it damages the liver. If it is eaten every day with every meal for months, then there will be problems. If it is used occasionally for a short period of time, then it's magic. Well, it's nature, isn't it? Comfrey is an excellent herb to have at hand and we've been using it for thousands of years for healing broken bones, sprains, lung issues and ulcers.
🌼 What Part of the Plant is Used?
Every part. Pretty neat, eh? It's just knowing when to harvest and how to prepare it.
🌱 Leaves: Wearing gloves is recommended as the bristles can be irritating. The leaves are best collected just before or during flowering. At that point they are higher in healing constituents. Collect after the morning dew has lifted. Leaves will bruise easily resulting in brown leaves when dried.
When planting potatoes, if you wrap it in a fresh comfrey leaf, it will be easier to dig up and come out cleaner. Pretty neato.
🌱 Roots: Use only roots from 3 year old plants (or older.) They have developed a to good size at that point and have greater therapeutic strength. Autumn or early winter is the best time to harvest as this is when the roots contain optimal healing properties. Wash/brush dirt from the root. If you want to cut the root, it is best to do it as soon as possible as, once dried, it becomes a tough old bugger. Like The Nerd's father.
🌼 How to Dry the Herb:
It's all fine and dandy to have fresh Comfrey on hand, but how is it dried and kept for long term use? 🌱 Leaves: Tie up to six leaves together and hang in a dry, airy place out of direct sunlight. They should keep a green colour. If they go brown, the leaves have been bruised or have too much moisture when collected.
The leaves are dry if they crumble.
🌱 Roots: Spread out on tray or in the pantry on some newsprint or on a screen. Check every third day to ensure no mould growth.
Alternatively, use a dehydrator.
They will be very hard once dried.
🌼 How to Use the Herb:
🌱 Fresh leaves can be used immediately. Remove the middle rib. Cut up or rip the leaf.
Put in blender or food processor.
Add a small amount of oil (olive, hemp, macadamia, sweet almond.)
Add more oil until the mixture resembles newborn baby poo.
Scrape into airtight container. Keep in the fridge.
Glorp mixture onto bruise or sprain.
Cover with flannel. Leave for up to three hours. Read a book or binge watch a TV series.
Be amazed at how it heals.
DO NOT USE ON OPEN WOUNDS. It heals too quickly and will seal in infection.
🌱 Dried leaves
You can make the glorpy mess but you might need a bit more oil and it won't go off due to the lack of water in the mixture. Or
Infuse the dried herb in oil.
How? Cut up dried herb.
Fill mason jar with it.
Top up with oil of choice. Olive oil (100% pure) is preferable.
Ensure herb is covered with oil.
Put lid on jar and leave in dark cool pantry for six weeks.
Check on it every week to make sure the herb is covered otherwise mould may grow.
Strain. You should have a nicely green oil.
Use oil as you would glorp.
Or make a balm or salve.
🌱 Dried root: Add 2 tablespoons of chopped dried root to 350 mls of water.
Boil for about 5 minutes (until soft.)
Let sit for 20 minutes.
Strain mixture with sieve.
Place on gauze. Apply to bruise, break, or sprain. Leave for up to 2 hours. Check every 20 minutes for potential irritation. The root is much stronger than the leaf.
🌼 Making Stuff With It: Great technical talk, eh? As stated above, you can use the fresh leaf. Infusing an oil gives you a long lasting stable product. If done properly the oil can last as long as 18 months. Making a balm or a salve with the oil gives you a healing product to have on the go. Handy for sports season, summer bach time, or if there is one of those accident prone people in your whānau. We all have one. A well made balm with no water contamination can last for up to three years.
🌼 Other Bits & Bobs: √ The leaves can be battered and deep fried (how it was in The Nerd's olden days.) √ The wilted leaves were used as animal feed.
√ Makes a nice companion for fruit trees. √ Make a 'tea' in a large bucket with the leaves. Use tea as plant fertiliser. √ Add to compost bin for rich, gorgeous dirt.
√ Leaves or roots can be made into a tea to help with ulcers, gut healing, or phlegmy coughs but please consult with your healthcare practitioner.
√ For bleeding gums or mouth ulcers gargling with the tea then spitting it out can help.
Use no longer than one week. And, see a dentist!
Peace and Love 🌼