Monday, April 11, 2011

Comfrey Ointment

Comfrey has been of interest to me lately. Besides it's uses as a plant food and compost activator, it is a wonderful, natural healer, promoting speedy repair of bruises and damaged bones. It isn't known as the 'bone-knitting herb' for nothing!

Hubby had a nasty run in with the ride on lawnmower several weeks ago, and not having used this miracle herb before we decided to give it a try. We placed a bruised, bashed up leaf on his swollen hand (one really shouldn't place their hand in the moving parts of lawnmowers!), and taped it up with some of the daughter's netball tape. Two applications over 8 hours saw the swelling virtually diminish and the pain brought down to a bearable level. The healing was amazingly fast, too. Within a week!

So, as you can imagine, I was interested to know what more could be done with this most valuable plant we have growing in the garden (which also happens to be ridiculously hardy and easy to grow from root divisions).

Comfrey Ointment

To assist the healing of bruises, sprains, backpain and aches and pains associated with arthritis.

This ointment is easy to prepare using just a few ingredients. The only thing that might need to be hunted down is some beeswax, which can usually be found from honey sellers at local markets.

After digging out my old herbal remedy book bought at last year's flea market, I found a recipe for a basic ointment base. Using these quantities, I infused the comfrey leaves in the oil until I thought they looked suitably spent....

Ingredients: (yield: 300ml, shelf life: several months, approx)
300ml vegetable oil (I used olive, although sunflower is also recommended)
large handful of fresh comfrey leaves (next time I will allow mine to wilt for a day or so, just so they aren't so 'splattery' in the oil
25g-30g beeswax, grated for faster melting

So back to the infusing, I placed the oil into a small pot and as many comfrey leaves I thought could fit in there and placed (jammed) the lid on. The oil was gently heated over a low heat until the leaves were mushy, wilted and the oil had turned green. It was a bit of a guessing process as this was the first ointment I had made. I would think the slow cooker would perform this task beautifully, too. My book also suggests heating the oil in a stove-top water bath (bain marie), to be sure the oil does not overheat and burn.
The oil was left to cool slightly and then strained. For a stronger oil, this process could be repeated a second and third time if need be.

The grated beeswax was then added to the comfrey oil and placed back over a low heat for a couple of minutes, until the beeswax had melted into the oil. This was then poured into a clean salsa jar and left uncovered until set. It's worth noting that any residue in the bottom of the pan should be left in there and not added to the jar as this excess moisture will cause the ointment to spoil faster than usual.


A hidden gem in the bookcase: HERBAL REMEDIES by Christopher Hedly and Non Shaw
Apply as needed by rubbing a small amount onto the affected area (not to be used on broken skin - just aches and pains) as often as needed. Comfrey ointment really does relieve pain fast. This is coming from a person who was very silly and pulled a muscle in her back only two days into the school holidays, eek!

98 comments:

  1. How extraordinary! I think I have some in the vegetable patch, thank you.

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  2. I had no idea. Thanks for that Christine. I'm trying to grow some from seed now. I'd read about it being good for chickens and for making a comfrey tea for the garden but never as a healing herb.

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    1. It's very difficult to start from seed.
      It is easily started from root cuttings.
      You can get them from http://www.coescomfrey.com/

      I grow it here at the farm.

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    2. It would be better to make sure you get Russian Comfrey. It has being breed to enhance the healing qualities and remove the toxic qualities. Check out this herb more, some varieties are not good for your liver. If you get the right variety you can have the health benefits without the side effects.

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  3. Fantastic idea, thank you so much for sharing it. I also have had a vet nurse tell me that comfrey is a good remedy for poultry.

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  4. Hey, that is cool! I bet it smells good, too.

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  5. Wow I love the colour!
    Next you should try calendula ointment. It's great for healing cuts, scratches, abrasions, chafes and nappy rash. We use it all the time, it's fantastic.

    When I infuse herbs in oil for soapmaking I place them in a bain mare over a very low heat for two hours. For a double infusion strain the oil, then add more herbs and infuse again for another two hours.

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    1. This sounds wonderful! But I do have to ask ... What is a bain mare? I've never heard of it and where can I get one? Thanks so much

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    2. Not sure if Lisa will get this but do you use a specific Calendula recipe? My sons are always getting scrapes, bumps, and bruises.

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  6. I could do with a fresh pot of comfrey cream right now! I remember using it with great enthusiasm a few years back now following an accident. Wonderful stuff; an osteopath recommended it to me then. I am trying to remember if we have ever grown it, if I do I will def try and make some cream like you!

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  7. What an excellent idea! I have comfrey going wild in the garden and never thought to rustle up a comfrey balm! Thank you!

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  8. You truly are the bees knees. How cool is that making up your own aches and pains ointment. Love it!
    Comfrey has taken over my mums vegetable garden on the odd occasion.

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  9. That green looks so pretty, and I sure wish there was a pot of this ointment in my cupboard! I've been wrestling fence panels all day and now can barely move. Tomorrow will be...interesting.

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  10. You're welcome, Rose, it is extraordinary!

    It's a great plant to have in the garden, veggiegobbler. I tried growing some from seed last year and it took months to germinate (!). Let me know if you are having trouble with it and I will pop a cutting in the post for you :)

    I've heard that it is good for poultry too, Tanya - a wonderful herb for them to self-medicate on. So many uses!

    Ha, floweringmama, it is very 'grassy', in the freshest possible way ;)

    Lisa, you inspired me...I gave the calendula salve a go yesterday. I notice kitchenherbwife suggests the same procedure with the 2 hourly water bathing...must try that.

    It really is wonderful stuff, Jo. It took me by total surprise. Have fun hunting that comfrey down :)

    The book is a real winner, Faeryfay!

    It is very straightforward to make, Daffodil, and so very soothing too. I would shudder at the thought of how much such a jar might cost in the shops...

    Ahh, well, Brydie, the comfrey was there, the pain was there..the solution was obvious. I can understand that happening to your mum's garden, comfrey has a tendancy to just keep growing and growing! Virtually indestructable thing it is.

    I like the green, too, quinn! Wish you were closer, I would share some with you. BTW, I love, love, love your walnut dyed socks!! :)

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    1. Where can i get comfrey leaves in Michigan??i really need to make some of this ointment

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    2. Comfrey ointment is excellent. One of my friends smashed her ankle badly and xrays confirmed it.

      Slathering tons of comfrey ointment on it twice a day, saw her walking on it freely after just one week. When more xrays were taken at that point, the doctor simply said to her (in a disgusted tone), "whatever you did, I don't want to know".

      Vegans and those concerned about vanished bee colonies can also use candililla, castor, or carnauba wax instead of beeswax - all easily obtainable from soap supply shops online.

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  11. I am aching all over - I woke up the other morning and gave a salute to General Myalgia. I could do with a tub of your magic cream - I must ask Pete if we can grow some comfrey.

    Wasn't there something about not being allowed to drink comfrey tea a while back?

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    1. You can make a delicious green drink by washing and putting a whole bunch of parsley (minus stems), a couple comfry leaves (less the center vein), fill with pineapple juice, blend and add a banana and blend until everything is liquefied. It's Delicious! And very healing. I have drank it for 40 years.

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    2. Comfrey is very safe and effective to drink. The government is posting warning labels about herbs while the FDA is approving man-made dangerous drugs from greedy corporations that have serious side effects. Comfrey has been used for hundreds of years by herbalists.

      Comfrey tea sweetened with honey is one of my daughter's favorite drinks in the summer.

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  12. Oh no, poor Celia! I do hope General Myalgia takes a leave absence very soon!!

    You are quite right, I've read that comfrey consumed in large quantities can cause liver damage.. I believe it does have to be vast quantities though..(like bucketloads), but I don't consume it anyway, just to be safe :)

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    1. check out youtube, susan weed videos, she talks about comfey

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    2. if you eat several pounds of confrey everyday stuies have shown that you are at a slightly higher risk of getting liver cancer due.... these studies are paid for by pharmaceutical companies, so your guess why that is so.... by the way the roots collected in fall or spring are eaven more efficiant for healing purposes...

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  13. I was wondering about my seeds Christine. I planted 10 comfrey seeds a couple of weeks ago and only 3 have germinated. I was thinking I'd done something wrong to have such a low success rate but maybe I've done well!

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    1. You can make several plants with just roots alone. If you want more plants, dig your comfrey up and separate the roots and replant. One plant can give five cuttings a year. They are impossible to kill.
      I had a filly several years ago that was attacked by dogs. The vet said her wounds were to deep to stitch. And the infections were taking over. He suggested putting her down. He gave me a antibiotic and a syringe. I gave her shots daily. Cleaned her wounds with Clorox, made fresh comfrey poultice packs with aloe and daily my kids and I cleaned her wounds and packed them. She healed in six weeks. No scarring and her hair grew back. Oh and I also put tea tree oil with the comfrey and aloe.

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  14. WELL DONE! I am itching to try this! Thanks for sharing ~ love your blog :)

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  15. Really well, by the sounds of it, Veggie. Apparently they have a really low germination rate. Well done on the success with your plantlings! :)

    You're welcome, Little Home - it's very, very simple and a marvelous pain reliever. Happy brewing!

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  16. thanks for that recipe - I've got all those ingredients here and I know how well comfrey works! I had a friend who used it on her husband's broken ankle (misdiagnosed by the hospital as a sprain) and by the time the hospital called them to get him back, it had healed - thanks to comfrey compresses (we gave her bagfulls to use). That bright green might also work in soapmaking too....

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  17. I had wondered if you had tried making this or something similar, Sonya. It would be right up your soapmaking alley - plus, wouldn't you already have a steady supply of beeswax to work with? The recipe is basically a quantity of infused oil with 10% beeswax added for setting, very simple.

    That is outrageous re. the hospital misdiagnosis. The success with the comfrey doesn't suprise me though..I wish we had known about it's healing properties when the 11yo broke her arm three years ago and her casts kept falling apart (!). I was also pondering over comfrey's uses as a plant dye for fabric/wool..? It sure does let out a lot of colour over the heat...

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  18. Oh, how did I miss this post! I am growing comfrey, and wondered how to make such a potion! Thank you...

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  19. Hi Christine,
    Thanks so much for this post, I have made some up today, and written about it on my blog http://debksdailyjournal.blogspot.com/
    I have put credit back to you with a link, so I hope that's ok. It has turned out really well, so now to see how it goes on hubby's sore back. :)

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  20. How wonderful, Deb! I really hope you find it useful...it has certainly earned a worthy spot in our home. ;)

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  21. thanks very much, looks easy to do and would make a valuable addition to our lifestyles.
    cheers
    Dayla
    Croydon

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  22. You're welcome, Dayla. It is a simple recipe and so useful, too. Best of luck with it :)

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  23. Just wondered how long this would keep?

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  24. Hi, I would imagine that at the very least it should be ok for 2-3 months, possibly longer if stored in a cool spot. Our jar is still in use (along with a similar calendula salve made around the same time). These have been stored at room temp in a dark cupboard. If you are concerned, the salve may keep for a little longer in the fridge.

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    1. As long as it is well strained and there are no comfrey bits in the jar to go off faster, I would think this would keep for a good 6 months in a cool spot. All of your ingredients are oil based so the main concern is more the oils going rancid rather than bacteria. If you add Vitamin E oil at 1% by weight of the other oils and waxes, that will be an effective antioxidant so it keeps longer. For this recipe, about 4g of Vit E would do it. You can just snip open some capsules if you don't want to buy a whole bottle. It's a bit messy though lol.

      I would also recommend continuing to gently heat the oil for a little while after removing the comfrey leaves to ensure the water content of the leaves has evaporated off :)

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  25. Brill! I have loads of Comfrey so I will make this.

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  26. Oh thank you - I forgot I have that book 'somewhere' and the comfrey has finally recovered from the severe cutting back the goose gave it in Autumn!
    Cheers,
    Robyn

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  27. I've just made a second batch of this and have started experimenting on my husband's weekly karate injuries :). My first batch was a dismal failure, I did it on the stove and went past the green colour to a black colour - the gas was very low but it must have burned. I did the second batch in the crockpot and it worked very well, a nice green colour and that (ahem) comfrey smell. I often left the crockpot with the lid off to release any water content, hope that little ploy worked.

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  28. anna from PembrokeshireMarch 27, 2012 at 8:36 PM

    I've been making comfrey ointment for some time - got loads in the garden. I also dig up the root and grate it - then infuse with oil - and then put the leaves in (second infusion)and when the mixture is in the pot I add a few drops of lavender/tea tree oil. This makes a wonderful healing ointment and smells delicious.

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  29. This looks wonderful in the jar, and feels good too! Took only a few hours in the North Carolina heat - 100F + (!) to dry the leaves & pop into the mini crockpot. I'm working on the calendula salve now.

    Comfrey is pretty well indestructible, I've decided. The original is in front of the rain barrel & gets beat all to pieces when it rains hard enough to rooster-tail off the barrel top. So I cut it back & 3 days later it has new shoots coming up from the center. I tried to transplant it a few years ago, and now I have 2!

    Very prickly leaves though, gloves mandatory. This gives me something useful to do with all those leaves, in addition to adding them to the composter, Great!

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  30. I heard from a doctor if you mix comfrey leaves with Pure Aloe it has a great affect on deep cuts and healing.

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  31. Make sure you keep the wound on the wet side. so bandages do not stick.

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  32. I have used Comfrey slave on skin abrasions,infections and even once for a brown recluse bite (the Dr. was so astounded at results he wrote down the ingredients) . It has always worked well. I noted the directions for not on broken skin, however that is exactly how I have used it for over thirty years.

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  33. I have always read that comfrey is such an excellent skin healer that on cuts, it can heal the wound too quickly on the skin and under the cut doesn't heal and can be infected. So on deep cuts it could be risky. Wondered if anyone has experienced any problems with this...

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    1. I have only used it on minor scrapes and abrasions (along with muscular aches and pains) with excellent results, Nancy. I would not be comfortable using it on deep cuts. x

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    2. Raw honey and comfrey worked on a really bad burn i had about a year ago the only scar is where i didmt get the stuff put on it

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  34. I did some comfrey in olive oil some time ago and put it in the fridge and it went solid! It is still in the fridge, I have forgotten all about it I am wondering if it is still useable?
    I guess the thing to do is take it out and see if it goes back to soft at room temp and add wax.
    I have the same "General" visiting here and can surely use it!!!

    Tena in Tahsis on Van Island

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    1. yes still good.I store mine in the fridge

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  35. I did some comfrey in olive oil some time ago and put it in the fridge and it went solid! It is still in the fridge, I have forgotten all about it I am wondering if it is still useable?
    I guess the thing to do is take it out and see if it goes back to soft at room temp and add wax.
    I have the same "General" visiting here and can surely use it!!!

    Tena in Tahsis on Van Island

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    1. We keep ours in the fridge, Tena, it seems to keep the ointment fresh for longer. Just pull out small amounts and let it come to room temperature to use. ;)

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  36. I tried my own salve and thought I would share: http://rediscovermom.blogspot.com/2012/10/herbal-salve-for-strains-bruises.html

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  37. Michael Moore states that Hound's Tonque is interchangeable with Comfrey. Have you, or anyone else here, had any experience using it in place of Comfrey. I used it in the field once and had pretty good results. Am considering using it to make salve instead of Comfrey as we don't have much Comfrey here, but have TONS of Hound's Tongue (also known as Begger's Lice).

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  38. Any ideas where one might get fresh comfrey leaves? I take it dried will not work? Thank you! Great post :)

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    1. Natalie, dried Comfrey will work just fine. I don't have access to fresh so I use dried herbs in all of my preparations. I am also lucky to have an herb store very close to my home so I can purchase the herbs as I need them. If I want/need a large quantity I get them from mountainroseherbs.com.

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  39. Thanks for the recipe Christine. one of our chooks got a broken leg this week, and we've been using a comfrey tea (internally and as a leg soak) as well as a comfrey compress and a splint. And it made me think - I should learn how to make comfrey ointment so I can have comfrey avilable year round.

    And that sounds so straight forward, definitely worth a try. (bookmarking now, so I remember where I read it! LOL)

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  40. I have a small bottle of comfrey extract, any idea how much I would use for this recipe? It's alcohol based, so I wasn't sure how to go about it or if I would need to find another way to use it.

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    1. when you have a sprain or scrapeput a few drops in water to soak your foot or ankleor put it in waterand make compresses to hold over a different area that you cannot soak

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  41. Wondering if you added some E if it would last a bit longer?

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  42. Comfrey is now on my list of things to plant in the garden this summer. Cannot wait to try!

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  43. Can i use dried Comfrey? if so, how much?

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    1. This is just my opinion, but I would think using dried comfrey would actually be better as far as the moisture content. You wouldn't have to worry about evaporating the moisture from the leaves. I would say if this recipe calls for a "large handful" I would use about 1/2 - 3/4 cup dried.

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  44. i thought the root was used for these creams, instead of the leaves. is there a difference?

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  45. I don't have a place to plant comfrey, can I purchase this and the beeswax at a store and if so, what store(s) are suggested to get these items at?
    Thank you

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    1. I get my most of my herbal supplies from mountainroseherbs.com. Trish F

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  46. Hi i have the comfry already run through to liquid form can you use it this way to make the oitment.

    Thanks

    Brenda

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  47. I live in Puerto Rico where can I get confrey? what is the Spanish name?

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    1. Here is the Latin name: "Symphytum officinale". Comfrey is also known as Knitbone, Bruisewort, Woundwort I hope that this information helps. See above comments for a souce however I do not know if they ship to P.R. you would have to check with them. Trish F

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    2. The Spanish name is consuelda.

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  48. I have been making comfrey and chickweed salve for years. I use dried herbs and "cook" it for 3 hours on very low heat. We use this for everything. It is excellent for burns (sunburns), cuts, scrapes and bruises, really just any external problem.

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  49. I make a cayenne aches & pain salve which works wonders. However, I've been excited to try the comfrey salve and have my oil being infused as I write this. I do have a question for anyone who might know the answer. Is comfrey safe to use on dogs? I can't put my cayenne salve on his sore joints because although it has a warm feeling on the skin, he may lick and it would be too hot for his tongue. If comfrey is safe for him, I'd put the straight infused oil into a spray bottle and leave out the beeswax so I could apply it easier through fur and onto the skin directly. Does anyone know if this would be safe? I'm planning on asking my vet too.

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    1. Comfrey isn't typically used internally. It can cause severe liver damage. You might try using rosemary instead. Rosemary is excellent for sore muscles and joints and it's completely edible.

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  50. I have only one memory of my great grandpa.I must have been only about 4 or so and my baby brother bit my behind(broke skin)and my great grandpa put something on it that looked exactly like that.I've often wondered at random times what it was,because from what I can remember it actually helped.I can't say this is it for sure.Does anyone know what comfrey smells like?Lol just curious

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  51. I have fibromyalgia and several displaced,very painful discs. I am sometimes sensitive to oil based ointments,but wondered if there is a way I can make therapeutic herbal rubs that are more cream based.I think it could be the sensitivity was because of other chemicals the drug makers add.Thank you for any feedback. :)

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  52. Couldn't U just ground the leaves up in the blender and use them that way, or let them dry 1st? Btw, Do you want to LOVE your job?? I work online from home, and I love my job!! If anyone is interested, ADD me as a friend (FB) , and MESSAGE me for info!!! Must be 18! US, UK, & CANADA ONLY

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  53. I jumped out of a boat once and landed on a broken bottle. Needless to say, it was not pretty and lucky to have a big bone in the big toe. We got back home and cleaned it with peroxide til it was showing clean and put the comfrey salve I had from a health food store on it and the butterfly bandages. I expected to have a gash the rest of my life but I am here to tell you that after it healed, you could hardly see a scare.

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  54. If you use Comfrey on sprains, bruises, et. al., adding Arnica would make it even more amazing! But Arnica is STRICTLY FOR EXTERNAL USE ONLY!! It also soaks into the skin to perform the miracle of healing :)

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  55. I can't wait to try this. Can anyone tell me where I might be able to find a copy of the book shown in the picture? Please. :)

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  56. where can a person find Comfrey?

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    1. I grow and sell the roots. It grow easily. A small root shipped in padded envelope, for 10.00. Amazing stuff . Use dry, raw, teas, tinctures, poultices, you name it. Message Mary CORNUM on FB to discuss ordering.

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  57. put some comfrey leafs is up to in sunflower oil and stand in the window for the sun to do its job and you have got comfrey oil and it last up to six weeks.

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  58. Make sure to plant in a big pot or an area to keep it under control. I have some planted in the ground and it is taking over and hard to get rid of. This sounds like a great thing to try. Might help my aches and pains.

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  59. Does dry comfrey work as well? I have some I ordered online. It's sitting in oil right now for a few weeks to make a salve...

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  60. Will go hunting for comfrey tomorrow!!

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    1. See above reply where to get roots.

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  61. I use the root of the plant in a powder form and make a paste out of it. I was not aware that the leaves could have the same effect. Thanks for sharing

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  62. instead of olive or sunflower oil, cold you use coconut oil?

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  63. Would it be possible to use comfrey powder to make the infusion? Thanks!

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  64. Thank you for this post :) Here is a link to grow comfrey http://www.coescomfrey.com/grow.htmlt :)

    Enjoy, Ronald Eddins

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  65. Can I use comfrey salve on my dog's injured knee?

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  66. Thanks very much for the hint. A friend of mine swore by comfrey drink for asthma, etc. She used to make it up by blending say 3 big leaves in a blender with water, enough to blend it easily and then strain it you can use a stocking over a strainer as when you get to the end of it you can still squeeze more of the green juice out of it and then add pineapple juice to make up to a litre. It is really nice.

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  67. I must say that the comfrey ointment can be a good solution to the problem of a little and uncommon pain in our body. But I disagree with you that it can heal the broken or misshaped bones of our body.

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  68. I used calendula infused olive oil ( I always have some infusing for soapmaking) then added the comfrey to that oil for a double whammy effect.

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  70. I had no idea how useful this plant is. Thanks for sharing such a useful information. back muscle pain in Canada

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