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Move over superman, can Comfrey a Herb, save the world?

Well it would have been if Henry Doubleday would have had his way.  You see he was a lovely Irishman a little ahead of his time.  The story goes (I wasn’t there, so sorry to say it’s not a first hand account), back in the early 1900’s he came across some Comfrey and was somewhat amazed at it’s affects on both his own health, the way that comfrey both fertilizers the soil and brings nutrients up from deep in the earth to it’s roots, and hence making the soil even richer than ever, he even noticed the effect this wonderful herb had on the health of his livestock.comfrey_plant

He started bringing it into the UK and planting large crops, in the hope to be able to feed and heal people livestock and the soil…. I am not quite sure where and how the story ended; I do know that he passed away before being able to see his dream come to life. And  slowly this modest herb without any big name behind it, without a big company a team of marketing strategist so slowly left the forefront of people’s mind, as the medical profession turned to medicines that were supported by companies with plenty of money for research, the crystallisation of extracts of the comfrey plant overfed intravenously to rats leading this simple herb to be added unjustly to the poisons list and the public has since turned to marketed medicines.  And yet, Comfrey remains with us, modest in qualities, there for those that care enough to find out and work with it in our endeavours. Abiding it’s time where it will one day be able to rip of the binds and the cloak of invisibility to once more show that it could, can and perhaps still will save the world.  A few it’s super-powers;

  1. Its main component is Allantoin which regenerates cell tissue, helping to speed up our bodies ability to self heal/ setting of wounds, injuries, fractures, broken bones and sprains. This is also said to be the key element that leading some to declare this herb the elixir of life.
  2. It is rich in vitamins, A, B1, B2, E & C especially good for vegetarians as it even has B12, which is a rare vitamin to find in plants, it even has nutrients such pantothenic acid (B5), calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sulphur, iron, Selenium, protein and phosphorus – beneficial for humans, plants and animals.
  3. It pulls nutrients to top of the soil around it and into nearby area, making it an incredibly valuable companion plant for other herbs, fruit trees and vegetables.
  4. Due to it’s richness in nitrogen and potassium it makes an amazing fertilizer, especially in today’s climate where soil nutrients are in decline, due to over-planting and lack of crop rotation.
  5. Farmers that have fed the leaves to livestock have reported a large increase of produce & health of their animals.
One of my own little home grown comfrey plants

One of my own little home grown comfrey plants

Now Comfrey is a humble plant, it just gets on with what it does best, which is to grow and grow, and then grow some more.  And while I might think Comfrey is a pretty super herb, and I do completely agree with Henry Doubleday and wished he’d lived to see his dream come true.  I hope for Comfrey that one day it will truly be recognised for it’s valuable contribution to our soils and earth, to our healing and our lives.

Notes:

For more information on full ompontents of comfrey, please check our Dr Christophers site: ‘allantoin (leaf) 13,000ppm; (root) 6,000-8,000 ppm-the biological activities are antidandruff, anti-inflammatory, anti-peptic, anti-psoriac, anti-ulcer, immuno-stimulant, keratolytic, sunscreen, suppurative, vulnerary. Symphytum is the number one plant species with the highest amount of allantoin’.

http://www.herballegacy.com/ThesisChemical.html

Top #3 Uses for the Herb Comfrey

comfreyWhile comfrey was mainly used in our history as a healing herb, and it’s from this history it gained its nickname ‘knitbone’ it also has a myriad of other uses as well.

# 1 Healing: it’s history speaks for itself and is knows to support the healing of bones and sprains, while Merck drug company is now also using it in their back pain cream, and it’s listed in the Cochrane review for both back pain and arthritis. To be honest as a easy growing little plant it hasn’t had the comprehensive research it deserves, as keep in mind most research is supported financially by companies that wish to benefit from that research, so my advice is test if for yourself – it supports me as the best all-purpose ointment I’ve come across, and I literally use it for everything….

# 2 Gardening: In the permaculture world it’s most often used a companion plant and as a mulch, in winter while the leaves go dormant the roots get into full swing by pulling up to them the rich nutrients into the surrounding soil, this of course in turn creates a soil which also benefits all the surrounding plants.

#3 Fertiliser: On top of this the leaves are incredibly rich in nitrogen, so are often chopped up or turned into a rich mulch to be fed back into the soil around the garden, this is a sure fire way to give your plants and amazing boost.

There are event stories about farmers feeding the wilted leaves to their cows that improved their health and milk production – which makes it in my eyes a little strange that it is seen as a poison in Australia (one of only 2 countries that give it a bad rap) – while there is little evidence to support this, there is much more overwhelming evidence of the benefits, and no known cases to date of anyone or anything being poisoned by it.  So be sure to do your own investigations and make your own informed decisions.  I highly recommend having some in your garden, and planting some in and around your other plants and see them all flourish.

If you are interested in reading more, there is some permaculture related articles that explain the benefits in more depth, and a link to the Cochrane 60ml_ointment001review.

http://permaculturenews.org/2010/10/01/the-wonderful-multi-purpose-comfrey-plant/

http://permaculturenews.org/2014/03/18/comfrey-really-improve-soil/

https://www.openpermaculture.com/magazine/six-reasons-comfrey-amazing-permaculture-plant