Comfrey is a perennial herb that is believed to have originated in Europe and Asia. Its name has been derived from the Latin word comfera, which means knitting together. The plant belongs to the family Boraginaceae, and it can grow up to a length of 5 feet. It has hairy, large, and broad leaves. The roots of this plant are usually black, while the flowers are small, and white, pink, or purple in color. The plant has been renowned for a long time for its medicinal properties. However, some species are known to be poisonous.
Health Benefits of Comfrey Herb
It has been considered a healing herb since ancient times. The ancient Greeks and Romans used this wonder herb for alleviating a number of ailments, including bronchial problems, wounds, heavy bleeding, and broken bones. Its popularity grew in the middle ages, mainly for healing fractures.
The main active ingredient found in this herb is allantoin, which has the ability of stimulating cell proliferation. Another important compound found in this herb is mucilage. Both allantoin and mucilage have anti-inflammatory properties. So, they can be used for alleviating the pain and inflammation associated with broken bones, sprains, arthritis, wounds, etc. Mucilage can help alleviate intestinal disorders, while allantoin augments the functions of the immune system.
The roots and leaves of this herb can be applied as an ointment and poultice. It is an expectorant and mild sedative. It can induce blood clotting, and promote the healing of ulcers; both external and internal ulcers. Many people use it as a herbal remedy for diarrhea, bleeding gums, and gangrene. It can be used to alleviate skin problems like acne, boils, and abscess as well. It is widely used in homeopathy for treating several diseases.
According to some studies, comfrey can help regulate the level of blood sugar and reduce cholesterol in the body. The roots of this plant have been used for a long time for treating lung problems. In Ireland, it is mainly used for treating problems associated with the circulatory system.
This herb is abundant in proteins and vitamins. Vitamin A and C are abundantly found in comfrey. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects the body from the damaging effects of free radicals, and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. On the other hand, vitamin A is required for healthy vision, and the proper growth and development of bones. It is one of the rare plants that contains vitamin B12, which is essential for the formation of red blood cells, cell division, and the proper development of nerve cells.
This herb also contains essential minerals, like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium, and germanium. Germanium is a powerful antioxidant, while calcium and phosphorus are required for healthy teeth and bones. Potassium is essential for maintaining the electrolyte balance in the body. In addition to these, comfrey can help regulate the level of blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The mineral zinc can facilitate energy metabolism and strengthen the immune system, while magnesium is important for a healthy heart, teeth, and bones.
Though comfrey has been used internally for conditions like indigestion, stomach and bowel problems, thyroid disorders, hernia, cough, lung problems, hemorrhages, and even cancer, recent studies have shown that its excessive consumption can be dangerous. Studies conducted in this regard have revealed that it contains a compound, known as pyrrolizidine alkaloid (PA), which is hepatotoxic and carcinogenic. The accumulation of a high level of pyrrolizidine alkaloid in the body may block the hepatic vein and cause liver failure. These findings induced the United States Food and Drug Administration to issue a warning in 2001 against the internal usage of herbal products containing comfrey. However, it can be applied externally, as no known side effect of external application has been discovered so far.
Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.