A 2013 study concluded that a topical comfrey preparation probably eased osteoarthritis knee pain in a group of 220 participants (Cameron & Chrubasik, 2013). spp. Drink plenty of fluid and rest. In this article, we will look at the benefits of comfrey and its traditional uses, its constituents and their physiological effects in the body, how comfrey is typically used internally and externally, and the safety facts that herbalists need to be aware of when using comfrey. It has a tap root similar to dandelions. used, While it can be helpful for herbalists to take these studies into account, it should be noted that the majority of research involved isolating PAs and injecting them at various concentrations, often very high concentrations, into rats. While comfrey is an herb with a long history of many different uses, its internal use has become quite controversial due to scientific studies, some dating back 40-60 years, that revealed potentially harmful effects of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) (Moreira et al., 2018), which are found in comfrey. If one promptly died from drinking comfrey leaf tea, there would be less controversy concerning its use. Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Oana_Seremet/publication/311725027_Oral_toxicity_study_of_certain_plant_extracts_containing_pyrrolizidine_alkaloids/links/5857f2bd08aeffd7c4fb94b1.pdf. Oral toxicity study of certain plant extracts containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Lastly, most herbalists who use comfrey internally only do so for short periods of time to decrease exposure to PAs. All parts of the plant can be used including the root, leaves, stems and flowers. Mei, N., Guo, L., Fu, P.P., Heflich, R.H., & Chen, T. (2005). Even though this plant contains poisonous chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), some people use the leaf, root, and root-like stem (rhizome) to make medicine. The essential guide to herbal safety. This herb has been utilized in folk medicine throughout Europe and North America and has been widely cultivated. Hepatocyte membrane injury and bleb formation following low dose comfrey toxicity in rats. It is often used to slow bleeding and drainage from tissues and to tighten and tone relaxed tissues. We use quite a lot of compost on our farm and comfrey helps us keep up with the quantity that we need. Comfrey leaf has been used since Roman times, dating back thousands of years. You can make a comfrey poultice with the leaf or the root. Comfrey’s leaf and root both have many beneficial qualities and uses. A strong decoction, or tea, is recommended in cases of internal haemorrhage, whether from the lungs, stomach, bowels or from bleeding piles -to be taken every two hours till the haemorrhage ceases, in severe cases, a teaspoonful of Witch Hazel extract being added to the Comfrey root tea. Then check your email to find a welcome message from our Herbal Academy team with a special link to download our "Herbal Tea Throughout The Seasons" Ebook! However, as we’ve come to learn more about PAs and their effects on human and animal health, some herbalists have changed their approach to using PA-containing herbs, including comfrey. In closing, we here at the Herbal Academy suggest erring on the side of caution and avoiding comfrey for internal use, particularly in the case of preexisting liver conditions, those taking medications that may affect liver function, during pregnancy, and while nursing. Moreira, R., Pereira, D.M., Valentao, P., & Andrade, P.B. The common variety is quite weedy and spreads around the garden. However, it’s during this detoxification process that an oxidative reaction occurs, which results in the formation of toxic metabolites known as pyrrole-like intermediates—these are the true cause of comfrey’s toxic effect as these metabolites bind to proteins, RNA, and DNA and are the primary cause of the hepatotoxicity that causes liver damage (Hoffmann, 2003). Topical comfrey is for use only on the skin. From: jtreasure.jonno.demon.co.uk (Jonathan Treasure) ), not all PAs are toxic. Common comfrey is found escaped from cultivation in all New England states. Dosages of Comfrey: Historically daily doses of leaf ranged from 5 … From: jtreasure.jonno.demon.co.uk (Jonathan Treasure), >If one promptly died from drinking comfrey leaf tea, there would be less. New York: CRC Press. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 5, CD010538. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010538. > (BTW - Ignore any posts that follow from the resident afh scaremongers. used S. officinale, while Yeong et al. This is the biggest difference between natural vs… Tilgner, S.M. The herb book I have says the beneficial part of the plant are the roots; I was wondering if the leaves have any properties as well. You can plant it once and have this very valuable plant forever. Oral toxicity study of certain plant extracts containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids. The root contains 10-1000 times more Pyrrolizidine alkaloids than the leaves. (2013). Comfrey will provide the bees with plenty of forage. There are also disagreements about the efficacy & safety of leaves vs. root. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing. PA levels vary depending on the plant part used, with roots containing higher levels of PAs than mature leaves (Gardner & McGuffin, 2013; Mills & Bone, 2005). Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Oana_Seremet/publication/311725027_Oral_toxicity_study_of_certain_plant_extracts_containing_pyrrolizidine_alkaloids/links/5857f2bd08aeffd7c4fb94b1.pdf, Herbal ABCs: The foundation of herbal medicine. If you are considering the internal use of comfrey, we recommend researching this matter for yourself in more depth so you have all the facts. Health benefits of this beautiful flowering plant include: Wound Healing. The drugs were not considered as possibilities. (2018). Comfrey is a perennial plant which divides easily. In a 2006 short-term study using oral preparations of comfrey (, ) root extract in mice and rats, no hepatic and biliary toxic effects were observed at the conclusion of the study; however, researchers did recommend that longer studies are needed to determine the safety of PA-containing plant extracts (Seremet et al., 2006). 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