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Monday, February 14, 2011

2010 Back to Basics Presentation: COMFREY Top Ten Herbals for Wellness

                                                                Symphytum officinale

Also known as Knitbone, Knitback, Consound, Blackwort, Bruisewort, Slippery Root, Boneset, Yalluc (Saxon), Gum Plant, Consolida, Ass Ear. 
This is one of my favorite herbs to grow. As the picture shows, it needs be kept contained or it will literally take over an area. I let my plant flower as I wanted to make Flower Essences.

Description: Comfrey is an herbaceous perennial. The large, hairy, lance-shaped leaves grow in clusters about 12 inches high. It sends up a central stem, which can reach three feet in height. The bell shaped flowers appear in clusters on this stem shortly before midsummer. The flowers of wild Comfrey vary in color, but are most often yellow. Prickly Comfrey may have blue or pink flowers, and Quaker Comfrey has purplish flowers. The root is black on the outside, white on the inside and tuberous, shaped like a turnip.

Propagation: A cultivated herb that prefers full sun, but might need some shade if you live in a very hot place. Soil should be rich, but it's not picky. It appreciates a bit of fertilizer once in awhile. It is most often propagated by root cuttings. It can become invasive if not kept contained. Comfrey likes it moist, so water regularly if it does not rain. Flowering stems should be removed in the first year, so that the plant's energy is focused on a sturdy root and leaf system After that, you can let the plant flower. Growth continues while the plant is in flower. 

Constituents: A great source of protein, potassium, calcium, and vitamins A, B12, and C. Most important is mucilage and Allantoin with a little tannin. (While Comfrey has finally gained some acceptance from the “official” medical community, there is also a quite a bit of fear surrounding the consumption. Recently, the FDA banned Comfrey from all commercially produced herbal supplements. Bear in mind that the FDA decided to ban the plant only after injecting unnaturally large amounts of the plant's inherent alkaloids into animal test subjects, which then died of liver failure, just as they would have had the alkaloids been extracted from a carrot, concentrated, and injected into their bloodstreams.) The highest percentage of the alkaloids are found in the root.

Harvesting and Preserving: The more you harvest this plant, the more it will grow. It should be harvested from early May and throughout the summer. Harvest before it blooms, for the greatest potency. Collect the leaves in the morning and immediately dry in a dehydrator as they break down easily. Dry at temperatures of 90 degrees or lower. Infuse leaves with oil and then keep refrigerated. Prepare a tincture/extract of the leaves with vodka, and bottle in colored glass. When collecting flowers for essence, do not touch but instead cut with scissors into a glass bowl. Use spring water to sun infuse for at least three hours. Preserve in dark glass with equal amounts of vodka or brandy.

 Wellness Properties and Modalities: Containing allantoin, which is found in the milk of nursing mothers, it encourages cell reproduction and thus stimulates healing and regeneration. No better ally can be found for the woman with thin bones. Contains special proteins used in the formation of short-term memory cells. Its soothing mucilage adds flexibility to joints, eyes, vagina, and lungs. This is another herbal that Susun Weed promotes for Menopausal Womyn's Infused Wellness Herbals.

 Infused Tea: A gentle remedy in cases of diarrhea and dysentery. Infused leaves are said to help speed the healing of broken bones and other internal injuries. Use as a soothing addition to baths. The root is used for persistent, painful coughs as well as hemorrhage and ulcers.                                                                                                                                                                         
Infused Oils: Add to salves for burns, acne, bruising, abrasions and other topical complaints. Add when making lotion to smooth and reduce wrinkles in the skin.                                                                                                                                                                        
Poultices: Use fresh leaves for sprains, swellings, bruises, severe cuts, boils, abscesses, and ulcers. The whole plant, is excellent for soothing pain and is useful in any kind of inflammatory swelling.                                                              

 Flower Essence: Telepathy/Yoga This elixir is a powerful tonic for the nervous system. It can enhance telepathic abilities and other seldom used parts of the brain. It is also useful for athletes and yoga practitioners for it may increase physical coordination. Deep healing, encourages feeling emotionally and physically safe.

Folk Lore: Saxons referred to the plant as “Yulluc” and utilized it in travel magic. Comfrey was apparently also given to bards and minstrels to protect them in their wanderings.

Cautions:  Do not use while pregnant or nursing. Never us Comfrey for very deep or puncture wounds, because it can actually make the surface heal faster than the lower part of the wound, causing abscesses. Make sure a wound has been thoroughly cleaned before applying Comfrey, so as not to seal dirt inside the wound. Comfrey should not be used internally or externally for longer than four to six consecutive weeks.

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