Herbal remedies and therapies have been evolved over the ages and have been carried out by different civilizations through experimentations and researches. Some of the herbs that were earlier known as hazardous for health are now used in different ways for treatment. On the other hand, there are certain herbs that were trusted for their therapeutic values, but are now being analyzed by the scientists in the wake of evidences of side-effects. Comfrey is one such herb which has long been known for its skin regeneration properties. But the recent researches have revealed the presence of poisonous compounds such as pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the plant that can cause harmful effect on liver and lead to death. In the wake of such findings the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned use of this herb orally followed by other countries including U.K., Canada, Australia and Germany. This poisonous alkaloid also gets absorbed really fast through the skin surface and the governments of these countries are thinking of banning its topical use as well.
What is the classification of Comfrey?
What is the plant description of Comfrey?
It grows in : Comfrey is found in temperate regions of Asia and Europe
What kind of soil : Is a perennial shrub that thrives in moist soils.
Its height: The plant grows to a height of 2 to 5 feet and bears, hairy and thick stems covered with oblong shaped leaves.
Its flowers: Depending upon the hybrid varieties the flowers can be white, blue, violet or purple and are arranged in dense clusters.
Its leaves: The root is fleshy and black with whitish colored interior filled with juices. Medicines from Comfrey are made by using the leaves and other above the ground parts of the plant. The young leaves are known to constitute the poisonous pyrrolizidine alkaloids in greater amount than the older leaves.
What part are the medicines prepared from: Earlier medicines were also prepared by using the roots, but the recent findings indicate that roots contain more than 16 times toxic alkaloids and hence nowadays, taking them internally has been stopped. The various chemical components present in Comfrey such as allantoin, tannins and rosmarinic acid are known be excellent skin regenerating agents.
What are the uses of Comfrey?
Skin ointments, poultices, liniments and creams made from Comfrey are very effective in treating wounds and reducing inflammation caused due to broken bones or sprains. Allantoin presence gives Comfrey the ability to regenerate skin cells and promote the development of new skin cells by stimulating the growth of other skin regenerating elements. Comfrey ointments are especially prescribed for healing bruises, pulled muscles, fractures, strains, osteoarthritis, sprains, and ligaments.
Stomach Problems: Earlier this herb was also used for curing stomach problems.
What are the precautions for using Comfrey ?
Use Comfrey medicines made only from dried or fresh leaves with the percentage of this herb not exceeding 5 to 20%
Never take Comfrey products orally as they are toxic
Since Comfrey contents get easily absorbed through skin surface, they should not be used for longer duration and only on prescription
Comfrey should never be used in patients suffering from alcoholism, cancer and liver disease
Pregnant or nursing women, elderly and children should never use any of the Comfrey products (topical as well as oral)
What are the drug interactions for Comfrey?
Not ot use with Tylenol(acetaminophen) : Comfrey interacts with medicines prescribed for liver problems
Not to use with Valeria, Skullcap, Kava: It should not be used or mixed with other herbs that have history of elevating liver diseases