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I love the look of comfrey with its large foliage and beautiful purple flowers. But I love comfrey for so much more than its looks.
Comfrey is known by many other names as well. Its scientific name is Symphytum officinale, but it has been known by some pretty descriptive names throughout history. A couple of those names are boneset and knitbone, which tells you about how it has been used historically.
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Comfrey contains allantoin, which is known for its ability to support the body's natural process of cell regeneration. Our body is amazing in its ability to produce new cells and allantoin nourishes our skin so that it can do this job more effectively. Both the leaves and roots can be used to support the body in this way.
Because of this, it has been applied to wounds, bruises, sprains, strains, pulled muscles, fractures, and osteoarthritis throughout history.
This is an herb that can help reduce and soothe inflammation and help to keep skin healthy. The allantoin and vitamin C content support the body's role in collagen production, which is important for tightening up skin and softening fine lines and wrinkles.
However, there are other questions that sometimes come up with comfrey. So let's talk about the cautions.
Because comfrey helps to speed up the body's natural process of wound repair, you want to make sure that if you are applying comfrey to a wound, it is clean and free of any debris. You wouldn't want to speed up the healing of a wound only to find that you have a new problem.
There is often controversy about using comfrey internally because of a study done on rats in 1991. In the study, large amounts of the pyrrolizidine alkaloids found in comfrey were injected into rats, which caused them to develop liver cancer.Because of this the FDA recommended that all oral comfrey products be removed from the market.
So if you want to be on the safe side of this controversy, you would only use comfrey externally.
MELANIE SKELTON, MASTER HERBALIST