Comfrey or comphrey

Comfrey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Comfrey (also comphrey) is a common name for plants in the genus Symphytum. Comfrey species are important herbs in organic gardening. It is used as a fertilizer and as an herbal medicine. The most commonly used species is Russian comfrey Symphytum × uplandicum, which is a cross or hybrid of Symphytum officinale (common comfrey) and Symphytum asperum (rough comfrey).

Symphytum officinale

Description

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is a perennial herb of the family Boraginaceae with a black, turnip-like root and large, hairy broad leaves that bears small bell-shaped flowers of various colours, typically cream or purplish, which may be striped. It is native to Europe, growing in damp, grassy places, and is locally frequent throughout Ireland and Britain on river banks and ditches. More common is the hybrid between S. officinale and S. asperum, Symphytum × uplandicum, known as Russian Comfrey, which is widespread in the British Isles, and which interbreeds with S. officinale. Compared to S. officinale, S. × uplandicum is generally more bristly and has flowers which tend to be more blue or violet.

Medicinal use

Contemporary herbalists have a mixed view of comfrey, despite widespread historical use. Its traditional names of knitbone, boneset and the derivation of its Latin name Symphytum (from the Greek symphis, meaning growing together of bones, and phyton, a plant), speak to its longstanding reputation as a therapeutic herb. Comfrey was historically used to treat a wide variety of ailments ranging from bronchial problems, broken bones, sprains, arthritis, gastric and varicose ulcers, severe burns, acne and other skin conditions. It was reputed to have bone and teeth building properties in children, and have value in treating “many female disorders”.

The plant contains the small organic molecule allantoin, which is thought to stimulate cell growth and repair while also depressing inflammation. Constituents of comfrey also include mucilage, steroidal saponins, tannins, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, inulin, and proteins.

In modern herbalism, comfrey is most commonly used topically. Some experts say that comfrey should be restricted to topical use, and should never be ingested, as it contains dangerous amounts of hepatotoxicpyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). 

Bibliographic details for “Comfrey”
Page name: Comfrey
Author: Wikipedia contributors
Publisher: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
Date of last revision: 8 March 2017 02:14 UTC
Date retrieved: 19 April 2017 23:39 UTC
Permanent link: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Comfrey&oldid=769189670
Primary contributors: Revision history statistics
Page Version ID: 769189670