Comfrey Leaf: Uses, Safety And Benefits Explained
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Most of us already know that the best way to combat illness is to strengthen your body before getting sick. And most of the time, taking a few simple precautions is more than enough to live a happy, healthy life.
However, a number of different variables like stress, lack of sleep, and a poor diet can cause us to become ill. Taking a more preventative stance with regards to illness is the key to unlocking a healthier lifestyle.
While a lot of people tend to be skeptical of alternative medicine, it certainly has its benefits. Using natural products and a variety of stress-reducing techniques can enable your body to recover and regenerate itself more efficiently without the need for conventional pharmaceutical drugs.
It may be true that pharmaceutical drugs are more efficient at remedying the symptoms of most conventional ailments. Yet they often do little to treat the root cause of the issue. This means you’re likely to have recurring health issues unless you manage to address the true cause of the problem. Plus, most conventional pharmaceutical drugs come with a wide range of side effects.
Thankfully, though, nature has has provided us with a number of holistic treatments for many common ailments. One in particular that I think deserves greater merit or attention is the comfrey plant. People have used it to treat illnesses, infection and topical wounds for a number of centuries. And it’s still considered to be a widely popular holistic treatment by today’s standards.
So the next time you’re feeling rundown or fluish, it may be a good idea to stop off at your local holistic wholesaler rather than going directly to the pharmacy. By reading this article, you’re moving towards taking control of your own health -- a wise choice indeed!
What Is Comfrey? Where Does It Come From?
What is comfrey exactly, and where does is come from? It’s a perennial herb native to Britain, Europe, the Western parts of Siberia and some of Asia. It was first discovered for its medicinal capabilities around 400 BC. People generally used it to stop heavy bleeding and treat respiratory disease and infection.
The plant grows much like a weed. People often use it as a foraging stock for livestock as well as fertilizer. There are three main varieties of comfrey. There’s the common comfrey (native to Britain), rough comfrey (which is found across Europe) and Blue or Quaker comfrey (which is found in Russia and Europe).
Comfrey does well in wet weather. In a matter of 5 weeks the plant is usually ready for harvesting. Yet it can continue to grow into autumn. Therefore, the plant is highly useful as a fertilizer. This is also because it’s rich in nitrogen, which many plants need to grow.
The plant starts its growth cycle in April and shows flowers towards June. The plants are generally cultivated by trimming parts of the root from the main stem. But they can also be transplanted or grown from crowning stems. The comfrey plant can grow to about 3 ft.
The crop is highly valuable due to its deep root system which helps it withstand dry conditions. It’s also frost-resistant, which means that the plant can handle freezing winters. Lots of direct sunlight and nitrogen-rich soil will encourage the best results in terms of the size of the plants and the amount of flowers. They will also affect the size of the leaves of the plants, which are the parts with the richest phytochemical content.
Health Benefits Of Comfrey Explained
The health benefits of the comfrey plant are a bit unclear. Comfrey’s use in alternative forms of medicine is somewhat controversial. The plant is immensely beneficial due to its rich amount of healthy phytochemicals. But studies have found that the plant may have carcinogenic properties. This is due to its high amount of pyrrolizidine alkaloids. These alkaloids have been known to negatively affect the liver and kidneys. And when used consistently in large doses, they may have a carcinogenic effect.
Therefore, it’s best to use the plant in tea form or as a dietary supplement. This reduces the effect of the alkaloids on your liver. It also allows you to better regulate how much of the plant you include in your diet. However, many still like comfrey simply because it also has a wide variety of potent natural phytochemicals. These can be used for healing and treating various health issues quite effectively.
Some of the more prominently active phytochemicals in the comfrey plant that are essential for promoting good health are allantoins, mucilage, saponins, tannic acid, and inulin. Allantoins are a form of naturally occurring uric acid that can decrease the inflammatory response of your body towards wounds and infections. This reduces the signs of painful inflammation. Mucilage has been known to help relieve the pain associated with headaches and migraines. It can even help prevent the occurrence of certain allergic reactions.
Saponins help reduce your overall levels of cholesterol and prevent the onset of heart disease. They also actively increase your immune system. Tannins posses a variety of immune-system boosting properties as well. And they can help flush out harmful free radical molecules while insulin encourages cell migration and can allow for faster healing and blood clotting.
Comfrey Root Explained
All of the same properties that are found in the leaves of the comfrey plant can also be found in the root. Yet the comfrey root is generally considered better to use in alternative forms of medicine. This is simply because it contains a more concentrated amount of the necessary phytochemicals needed to help treat illnesses and ailments.
The root is often dried up and ground down to help form a powder. This is then compressed into pill form and used as a dietary supplement. Or it’s added to teas to help increase the concentration of the phytochemicals that make the plant healthy in the first place.
If you’re harvesting your own comfrey plants, I would recommend waiting until the plant is at least 2 -- 3 ft in height before digging up the root. This will give you a more bountiful harvest. It will also ensure that the concentration of phytochemicals and nutrients are high enough for you to get the maximum in terms of the root’s nutritional profile.
Comfrey Cream Explained
Comfrey cream has been a household favorite for a number of years. The use of this cream dates back to the early 20th century. People have been using it to treat and relieve both topical and internal forms of pain and inflammation. This is due to its rich analgesic and anti-inflammatory formula.
The cream contains a highly concentrated amount of phytochemicals. Therefore, you should use it in small-to-moderate amounts. Excessive use can result in long-term oxidative damage that may actually have carcinogenic effects. However, in the immediate moment, comfrey cream is widely considered a safe and suitable treatment for a variety of different types of pain and discomfort and can also be quite effective as a natural moisturizer.
Comfrey Tea Explained
Comfrey tea is as old as our use of the herb for medicinal purposes. The herb is a lot more effective for both topical and internal use when you use it in tea form, as this helps deliver the concentrated phytochemical components of the plant directly to the areas where it’s needed.
Comfrey tea is readily available at most health stores. It can provide a number of surprising health benefits. For instance, it can reduce the sensation of pain associated with headaches and topical wounds, increase your body’s natural defenses (i.e. your immune system), and provide you with a wide range of minerals and vitamins that your body needs to stay healthier for longer.
Comfrey contains a number of different minerals and vitamins. These include vitamin A, B (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12), C and E. And they also include minerals such as chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, germanium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, manganese and magnesium. By including this tea in your diet at least 2-3 times a week, you can greatly improve your body’s natural immune system. You can also improve the rate of cell regeneration with regards to healing wounds and sores.
However, when using comfrey tea, I would always recommend that you drink at least 1 glass of water for each cup of tea. Exceed no more than two cups in one sitting, as the carcinogenic effects of the alkaloids found in the plant increase with higher dosages.
Where To Buy Comfrey Tea
You can buy comfrey tea in most health food stores and organic grocers. It isn’t that difficult to source online either. Depending on what your reasons for using the herb are or depending on how much of the stuff you’d like to use on a regular basis, buying in bulk might be a good idea. However, growing the plant in your garden and making your own tea is quite simple as well. There are a lot of different recipes online that will guide you through the process of brewing your own comfrey tea in the comfort of your own home.
I’ve been using comfrey tea in my diet for a number of months now. I find that the tea works quite well for relieving stress and keeping colds and the flu at bay. I have even tried using it topically on my hair and found that the antiseptic properties of the plant help keep my hair clean and grease-free. Comfrey is readily available at most nurseries, and it’s pretty easy to cultivate at home. The products of comfrey cream are easy to find on the internet and at most organic grocers and health food stores. I would highly recommend trying out this product if you’re interested in finding a natural immune-boosting substance that doesn’t cost too much.