Posted by Bangzkie Friday, February 17, 2012
Comfrey (also comphrey) is an important herb in organic gardening. It is used as a fertilizer and also has many purported medicinal uses. The main species used now is Symphytum × uplandicum or Russian comfrey, a hybrid between Symphytum officinale (common comfrey) and Symphytum asperum (rough comfrey).
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale L.) 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
Comfrey has long been recognised by both organic gardeners and herbalists for its great usefulness and versatility; of particular interest is the 'Bocking 14' cultivar of Russian Comfrey. This strain was developed during the 1950s by Lawrence D Hills, the founder of the Henry Doubleday Research Association (the organic gardening organisation itself named after the Quaker pioneer who first introduced Russian Comfrey into Britain in the 1910s) following trials at Bocking, near Braintree, the original home of the organization.
Medicinal uses: Contemporary herbalists view comfrey as an ambivalent and controversial herb that may offer therapeutic benefits but can cause liver toxicity.One of the most common uses of Comfrey extract is as a skin treatment. The plant contains the small organic molecule allantoin, which is thought to stimulate cell growth and repair while simultaneously depressing inflammation.Scientists and medical doctors agree that the use of Comfrey should be restricted to topical use, and should never be ingested, as it contains dangerous amounts of hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs).The allantoin contained in the plant is thought to help replace and thus repair cells in the body through its profliferant properties. Comfrey was used in an attempt 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". Constituents of comfrey also include mucilage, steroidal saponins, tannins, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, inulin, and proteins.