The Comfrey plants are leaning over, heavy with the rain that has fallen overnight. The sun shines now as I sit with the Comfrey. Many bees buzz around…many, many bees. The Comfrey stands about 5 feet tall. The vibrant, bright green leaves have indentations that resemble veins and arteries, or a river with many paths flowing to the sea.
I have been growing Comfrey for over 15 years. I started with this patch at the top of my garden near the espalier apple trees and it has spread just a little in that much time. It has been a steadfast plant, like a Mother Protector.
When you spend time with Comfrey, her nourishing elements are apparent immediately.
This past weekend at our Green Witch School circle, I invited my students and apprentices to spend time with Comfrey. Then I asked them to say, based on breathing and listening with Comfrey, what she offers in the way of healing.
The sharing was beautiful-home, grounded, connected, nurturance and love-were among her gracious qualities. I was infused with these as each spoke in turn. I can still feel it. Each woman gathered three stalks of Comfrey and made a jar of infused oil.
In my many years of relationship with Comfrey, I have made infused oil, poultices, nourishing herbal infusion and soaks for feet and body. I add Comfrey infused oil to my salves.
I have heard Susun Weed talk about Comfrey and the safe use of it for years and years.
Recently, on social media, some folks have been angry about Comfrey. They have spoken about it as not safe internally. They have strongly questioned people who question the unsafety of it. I found myself feeling very sad about this. And so I decided to do my own investigation about the claims of whether it is safe or not.
And I began to spend time, a lot more time, with my Comfrey plants outside, to see what she has for me right now.
What I learned from Susun Weed years ago was that the Comfrey that I grow, and that most people grow, Symphytum x uplandicum, does not have pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA’s) in the leaf, only in the root. Recently, I have read a few articles that state that there may be PA’s in the leaf of Symphytum x uplandicum. In the reading I did, it was not definitive. Studies found that some leaves tested had PA’s and some didn’t. There were more PA’s in the young leaves than in the older plants etc. I am sharing links to articles and a few websites here so that you can read about this and decide for yourself if Comfrey is safe to drink as an infusion, safe to utilize internally.
A great article about Comfrey by herbalist, David Hoffman, found on herbalist, Jim McDonald’s website: http://herbcraft.org/hoffmanncomfrey.html
A website with research and information about Comfrey: https://comfreycentral.com/
PDFs scientific research on Comfrey PA’s: I have pdf’s of two research papers on comfrey that I can email you. Email me to request them.
Henry Doubleday Foundation-You can find lots of info on Comfrey here for use in gardening and composting: https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/comfrey
Search You Tube for Susun Weed videos about Comfrey.
I invite you to explore for yourself. And I also invite you to get to know Comfrey.
As I sat and breathed and listened to Comfrey, she told me, she is the most healing of all plants…whatever I desire, seek it and you shall find it…there is a subtlety that can only be found in the invisible-establish yourself with nourishment and the common plants near you.
Comfrey’s healing stories are numerous. Comfrey has another alkaloid that is incredibly supportive called allantoin. This substance, speeds the replication of cells. Healers of old called Comfrey, “Knit bone” because it knitted broken bones back together and reduced the swelling around broken bones, torn ligaments and tendons. It also helps to reduce pain. (A Modern Herbal, Mrs. M. Grieve). Comfrey is supportive and strengthening to our lungs and can also improve short term memory.(S. Weed)
I have read the literature on Comfrey. And I make and drink, Comfrey-Nourishing Herbal Infusion. I find it comforting and deeply nourishing. A risk? Oh, for me, I have been drinking it for over 15 years…not as often as nettle and oatstraw infusion, but a good amount. I invite you to decide for yourself. I invite you to be informed about anything that you take into your body. This is the wise woman way. To trust yourself…not someone else you think knows better, but to trust your own wisdom and intuition.
Here are some ways to explore Comfrey.
Comfrey ~ Shamanic Listening Exercise:
- Find a Comfrey plant with which to connect.
- Sit or stand near the Comfrey.
- Breathe with Comfrey. Imagine the breath you are breathing in as the oxygen from the Comfrey. As you breathe out, offer your breath to Comfrey.
- Imagine the roots-musilagenous, slimy, plump, full of life.
- Notice the stalks, leaves, flowers and their relationship with the sun.
- Imagine the Comfrey’s relationship with the bees and other insects.
- Breathing. What does Comfrey have for you?
- Take some time for this.
- Offer gratitude when complete.
Comfrey Infused Oil:
- You will need a glass jar with a lid, olive oil and label and pen.
- Gather a Comfrey stalk-after it begins to flower. (or more depending on how much infused you would like. I always ask permission before gathering and wait for an answer. Cut with scissors. (Susun Weed has said there is quite a bit of allantoin in the stalk.)
- Cut the stalk, leaves and flowers small and pack them into the jar, not to0 firmly. (This is called a fairy mattress pack.)
- Pour olive oil over this to the top and place the lid on the jar. Shake a bit or poke the oil and Comfrey with a chopstick to get the oil covering everything.
- Let this sit for three weeks. (I learned this infusing method from Susun Weed on one of her You Tube videos)
- Strain the oil and put more Comfrey into the jar and pour the Comfrey infused oil you have just strained over this. You will probably have to pour more olive oil over this as well.
- Let this sit for another three weeks and strain.
- Voila—Healing Comfrey Infused Oil.
- Some cautions: Comfrey is full of water and so you may want to use one of those white plastic lids on a canning jar. This will allow air to circulate and moisture to evaporate. Also, make sure the oil covers the plant material. This will prevent molding.
Comfrey-Nourishing Herbal Infusion:
- I gather the stalks of Comfrey when flowering and hang them up from my ceiling to dry.
- Heat water in a pan to boiling.
- Cut up the stalks of dry Comfrey and add one ounce for every quart of water you are boiling. I do this at night and let it sit until morning. (at least four hours).
- Strain and drink this nourishing, nurturing, comforting brew.
- You can infuse the plant material again(called the mark) in cold water over night. The cold water releases the musilage.
- I actually sometimes infused the comfrey a third time and use this to water my plants.
Comfrey, Mother Protector, comfort us, knit our lives together with love and nurturance. Teach us also to knit love into the world and heal us.
May it be in Beauty.