The following reports are from the late 1980's and early 1990's. I’ve received a flood of emails regarding my previous article about comfrey speeding up the healing of a fractured finger.Most people were concerned about the safety and legality of comfrey. There is no reliable data to confirm or deny the FDA ruling that comfrey is unsafe to eat. Use Comfrey Leaves as Fertilizer Use the first cutting of spring leaves by chopping them up and placing them in the soil next to your garden plants. It has been suggested that its use can be dated back to 400 B.C. was used, there is dissension among herbalists regarding this decision and whether comfrey is indeed toxic to a healthy human (Hoffmann, 2003) when used in appropriate dosages and frequencies. Comfrey tincture can help settle an upset stomach, help with ulcers, help stop diarrhea and can act as a cough suppressant. PA toxicity occurs when unsaturated PAs are absorbed from the intestines and passed to the liver to be metabolized. Protecting those whose health is already compromised, and who are using many other substances, totally unsupervised, and without the proper information. Gardner, Z., & McGuffin, M. While cases of veno-occlusive liver disease have been reported by individuals taking comfrey leaf or root, it is not known which species of comfrey was used, and dosage and frequency varied among individuals as well, thus making it difficult to come to a conclusion. While many herbalists have used comfrey internally for years with no known problems, others are heeding the warnings that stem from the conclusions of modern scientific studies on the internal use of comfrey. For … Folk recipes mention using comfrey root tea to cure stomach upset and eating comfrey leaves fresh or cooked as a general tonic. Alternatives to comfrey tea for internal use. Allow the leaves to wilt for a few hours after cutting, and then dig them into the soil to … Comfrey Root Tea - Not For Internal Use by TerraVita 25 tea bags: Currently not available for purchase. Individuals should seek the advice of a healthcare provider or trained herbal specialist before using it. Do not use comfrey in the presence of active liver disease or in conjunction with medications that impair liver function. Allantoin makes it effective for softening skin and hair. Please add your email address below and click "Submit" to add yourself to our mailing list. Since a chemical in isolation behaves differently than when present in a whole plant, rats are different than humans, different routes of administration can affect toxicity, and it is sometimes unclear which comfrey species (S. officinale or S. uplandicum) was used, there is dissension among herbalists regarding this decision and whether comfrey is indeed toxic to a healthy human (Hoffmann, 2003) when used in appropriate dosages and frequencies. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010538. For internal applications, comfrey has been used as infusions and extracts for the treatment of gastritis, gastroduodenal ulcers, and lung congestion ( Roeder, 1995 ). Please simply create an account before buying/booking any courses. I wanted to say that I am a cancer survivor and I do owe it to my daily herbal regime. In herbal medicine, it was used for treating tendon damage, broken bones, lung congestion, ulcerations in gastrointestinal tract, joint inflammation, lung congestion and also promotes wound healing. Because of this, it is often used to soothe hot, dry tissues, particularly those in the gastrointestinal, respiratory, and urinary tracts for digestive ulcers and diarrhea, coughs, or to ease symptoms associated with a urinary tract infection, respectively (Hoffmann, 2003; Tilgner, 2018). That is something each individual must decide for oneself. Next, herbalists lean toward using preparations made from the larger, more mature leaves, which are known to contain fewer PAs than younger leaves and roots. Mutagenicity of comfrey (Symphytum Officinale) in rat liver. You can get around the comfrey problem for internal use as comfrey's active ingredient is allantoin. This healing herb may be the ideal remedy to mend and soothe your aches and pains. Greeks and Romans used comfrey to stop heavy bleeding, treat bronchial problems, and heal wounds and broken bones. Most people only recommend topical use of comfrey, as there have been some traditional suggestions for internal use when done properly. Cooled tea is used to treat bruises and burns; it soothes the damaged skin, stops the itch, prevents infection, and speeds healing. Comfrey is an herb that grows in temperate areas of western Asia, Europe, Australia and North America. Find out what type and part of the plant is being used in the preparation. Certain types of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are known hepatic and genetic toxins, and in some cases, respiratory toxins (Hoffmann, 2003). Comfrey, a perennial herb native to the ditches and riverbanks of Europe, has long been used in traditional medicine. Heat 1 cup of water to just shy of boiling. While a small amount of comfrey’s PAs may be absorbed through the skin, when used within the guidelines stated above, the amount is believed to be limited and, therefore, safe to use (Groves, 2016; Hoffmann, 2003). It’s useful for healing bleeding gums, soothing a hoarse voice, and relieving … doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6602420. Common Names: Blackwort, bruisewort, common comfrey, knitbone, slippery root, boneset, yalluc, gum plant, ass ear. Mix the juice with the leaf fibre, and seal it in a plastic bag before freezing. The word comfrey, derived from the Latin word for "grow together", reflects the early uses of this plant. Veno-occlusive disease (VOD) manifesting in people using comfrey has been reported (see Case Reports). Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Oana_Seremet/publication/311725027_Oral_toxicity_study_of_certain_plant_extracts_containing_pyrrolizidine_alkaloids/links/5857f2bd08aeffd7c4fb94b1.pdf, Herbal ABCs: The foundation of herbal medicine. The following reports are from the late 1980's and early 1990's. Comfrey is used as an aid for humans. Use comfrey for no more than 10 days in a row. Comfrey illustration from Kohler’s Medicinal Plants, 1887. Comfrey root tea is good for use as a mouth gargle, it can be taken in small doses throughout the day to treat an upset stomach or diarrhea and it is also good for coughs. Not for Internal Use. Cher D. on June 22, 2016: I have comfrey powder, how would i make a poultice? PAs can also found in honey, grains, milk, offal and eggs. American Herbal Products Association’s botanical safety handbook (2nd ed.). PA levels also vary depending on the species of Symphytum. International Journal of Experimental Pathology, 74(2), 211-217. (2018). used S. officinale, while Yeong et al. Comfrey is not recommended for use with deep wounds or unset bones. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 19. Comfrey tea can be taken internally or it can be used topically on any external inflammations. (2013). British Journal of Cancer, 92(5), 873–875. Comfrey is distinguished by large, hairy leaves, a curled inflorescence with white to purple bell-shaped flowers, and black roots. Comfrey can also be made into a lovely soothing cream. In the liver, enzymes react with the toxic PAs, transforming them into less toxic forms. Much debate surrounds the safety of comfrey due to various parts … At this point, there are no clinical studies showing the link between PAs and liver toxicity when comfrey is taken at typical doses by healthy humans. Comfrey is Excellent for Healing Bruises Comfrey is sometimes used as a mild analgesic. Once they are fully dry use them to make this skin healing and pain relieving salve. Comfrey is a shrub that grows in parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. I make a tea of Comfrey and LIcorice Root. It is known as a vulnerary and as an astringent. Comfrey is an herb that grows in temperate areas of western Asia, Europe, Australia and North America. Can and should one use comfrey (Symphytum spp.) It is used as a tea or vegetables by humans. Definitely do not use during pregnancy or nursing, with infants, and if you have liver or kidney disease. Groves, M.N. Anderson et al set out to determine if occult liver damage was apparent in twenty-nine healthy people that had been taking comfrey on a long term basis. Long term internal use is discouraged due to the potential of toxic alkaloids. It primarily grows in marshes and wet soil. There are many external uses that comfrey tea can be used for. Comfrey leaf is prized for its allantoin content, making it useful for tissue repair and cell regeneration. Pregnancy/Lactation Oral toxicity study of certain plant extracts containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Is comfrey safe to use or not? Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press. However, it’s during this detoxification process that an oxidative reaction occurs, which results in the formation of toxic metabolites known as pyrrole-like intermediates—these are the true cause of comfrey’s toxic effect as these metabolites bind to proteins, RNA, and DNA and are the primary cause of the hepatotoxicity that causes liver damage (Hoffmann, 2003). Hoffmann, D. (2003). Yes, this is a weak tea by most standards. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids: Chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology and food safety. Herbalists also choose comfrey species that are known to contain less toxic PAs. Allantoin makes it effective for softening skin and hair. I don't get asked about the safety of internal use of comfrey much any more. The tea can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months for cool, soothing use. 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 a traditional herbal medicine used by people when they have taken a bad fall. You can chop the leaves and dry in a dehydrator on low heat or in a warm oven. It is used as a tea or vegetables by humans. Comfrey tea has a long history of use as a treatment for aches and pains. For internal applications, comfrey has been used as infusions and extracts for the treatment of gastritis, gastroduodenal ulcers, and lung congestion (Roeder, 1995). Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2005). (Note that Mei et al. While comfrey pills are no longer available, the plant itself is not a controlled substance. The tea can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months for cool, soothing use. More Photographs below. Comfrey is used as an aid for humans. Do not take internally. Distribution and Habitat: Comfrey is a plant indigenous to Europe and temperate parts of Asia. Mutagenicity of comfrey (. In addition, herb practitioners recommend comfrey capsules for the treatment of rheu-matoid arthritis, bronchitis, various allergies and for diarrhoea, regardless of the pathogenic cause. Taken internally as decoction (boiled root tea), comfrey is described as effective against tuberculosis, internal tumors and ulcers, and promotes the healing of bone fractures. For other herbalists who have chosen to play it safe with all PAs, they choose to limit comfrey to external use only through the use of preparations such as herb-infused oils, salves, and poultices. In closing, we here at the Herbal Academy suggest erring on the side of caution and avoiding comfrey for internal use, particularly in the case of preexisting liver conditions, those taking medications that may affect liver function, during pregnancy, and while nursing. Depending on their molecular structure, PAs can be either saturated (such as those found in arnica and echinacea) or unsaturated (such as those found in alkanet, borage, coltsfoot, and comfrey). At least externally the root's OK here & the leaves can still be used as tea or poultice. CAUTION: The leaves contain an alkaloid that may be toxic to the liver, so it is not recommended for internal use I think most people have heard the pyrrolizidine alkaloids found in many comfreiy products are problematic, and that we should be cautious about internal use of comfrey, or not use it at all. Comfrey is traditionally used to treat wounds and bone fractures. AHPA reports that in Germany, the recommended external application of comfrey is a daily exposure at or below 100 μg unsaturated pyrrolizidine alkaloids limited to 4 to 6 weeks per year (Gardner & McGuffin, 2013). Other factors that may have amplified the risk of liver damage are present. Benefits of Comfrey Tea Comfrey leaves are succulent and difficult to dry at normal room temperatures. The compounds in comfrey’s leaves and roots--pyrrolizidine alkaloids--are toxic and may damage the liver, cautions UMMC. (Note that Mei et al. Some people choose to use the tea over the tincture because they do not want the alcohol or they prefer the soothing effect that comes from drinking the tea. Since comfrey leaf was a commonly available tea in both the United States and the United Kingdom and many people had been consuming it for years, there was a readily available exposed population. Allow steeping for at least 10 minutes. I sweeten it with a few drops of honey and drink each morning. The toxic effect of PAs is not a new phenomenon, and many cases of PA poisoning, from mild to severe and even fatal, have been reported (Hoffmann, 2003); however, the toxic effect of PAs in comfrey is where the debate is focused. (2013). When it comes to the internal use of comfrey, some herbalists are comfortable continuing to use comfrey internally with a few cautions. It can grow up to 5 feet tall. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Inc. Moreira, R., Pereira, D.M., Valentao, P., & Andrade, P.B. There are things you can do to ensure you’re using comfrey responsibly and as safely as possible. Case Reports of Toxicity with Internal Use of Comfrey. Once they are fully dry use them to make this skin healing and pain relieving salve. ), not all PAs are toxic. If it is hard to understand how one simple, easy to grow and easy to apply plant can be so widely useful in healing, remember that penicillin’s supporters have made some pretty broad claims for the mold on oranges. MARY Sarvino@Gmail.com on June 10, 2016: I have three plants I received the root years … Also keep in mind who profits and doesn’t from the use, or defilement, of comfrey. That being said, based on case reports of liver disease in individuals taking the leaf or root of unspecified Symphytum species, the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) did ban the sale of botanical products containing toxic PAs (including those with Russian comfrey and prickly comfrey) for internal use, suggesting those products should be restricted to external use (Gardner & McGuffin, 2013). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. While it can be helpful for herbalists to take these studies into account, it should be noted that the majority of research involved isolating PAs and injecting them at various concentrations, often very high concentrations, into rats. It is above all demulcent, emollient and mucilaginous; the root is slightly astringent. The Herbal Academy neither endorses them nor is in any way responsible for their content. Pleasant Hill, OR: Wise Acres Publishing. Humans have consumed comfrey widely as a vegetable and have taken comfrey formulations of tea or tablets. Do not take internally. For centuries, comfrey was considered a safe medicine, and in some cases even a food. As an internal remedy, comfrey tea has been banned due to its potential side effects. The Herbal Academy supports trusted organizations with the use of affiliate links. First, comfrey is only suggested for healthy individuals who have no history of liver disease or liver function issues, are not taking medications that reduce liver function, and are not pregnant or nursing. On the other hand, other studies using rats that were given isolated PAs from comfrey root or young leaf, both of which have higher levels of PAs than mature comfrey leaf (Mills & Bone, 2005), have shown to be toxic when given in both low and high concentrations (Mei et al., 2005; Yeong et al., 1993). Preparation and Dosage. It is believed that the pyrrole-like intermediates damage sinusoidal and epithelial cells, which occludes blood flow to the liver tissue, eventually resulting in tissue death (Mills & Bone, 2005). In all instances, a clear cause and effect correlation is not present. For this reason, most of the benefits for this tea involve external uses. The Herbal Academy makes neither medical claim, nor intends to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Pleasant Hill, OR: Wise Acres Publishing. Comfrey or Blackwort is used in health and its properties are almost the same as those of Borage. Comfrey tea is readily available at most health stores. internally? There are no justified indications for internal use and the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medicinal Products (BfArM) has banned the use of comfrey alkaloids for the treatment of gastritis, gastroduodenal ulcers and diarrhoea and there are no tea brands available containing comfrey. For internal use, you will want to take a dropper full of comfrey tincture. Since a chemical in isolation behaves differently than when present in a whole plant, rats are different than humans, different routes of administration can affect toxicity, and it is sometimes unclear which comfrey species (. ) spp. Patients with hypersensitivity or allergic reactions to the plant should also avoid external use. While a number of plants contain PAs, such as alkanet (. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Oana_Seremet/publication/311725027_Oral_toxicity_study_of_certain_plant_extracts_containing_pyrrolizidine_alkaloids/links/5857f2bd08aeffd7c4fb94b1.pdf. Seremet, O.C., Barbuceanu, F., Ionica, F.E., Margina, D.M., Gutu, C.M.,Olaru, O.T., … Chirita, C. (2006). The United States FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not allow for internal use to be recommended or suggested on labels. Comfrey leaf has been used since Roman times, dating back thousands of years. Over the years there has been some controversy regarding the internal use of this tea, despite it being uncommon to experience side effects while using this tea. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 5, CD010538. However, in recent years, because of safety concerns, most … Despite this toxicity, scientific studies have also revealed that some types of PAs have several beneficial pharmacological properties, such as antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-HIV activity, as well as the ability to inhibit acetylcholinesterase enzyme (Moreira et al., 2018). Comfrey is banned for internal use in quite a few countries. Their opinions were given after one crude experiment where a group of pigs were fed large amounts of comfrey for 3 months. . Comfrey as a natural hair rinse. Humans have consumed comfrey widely as a vegetable and have taken comfrey formulations of tea or tablets. Avoid using comfrey gratuitously. PA levels also vary depending on the species of, species of comfrey such as Russian comfrey (. ) Traditionally, comfrey has been used for hundreds of years, both internally and externally. Herbal ABCs: The foundation of herbal medicine. For internal application, comfrey is claimed to benefit gastritis and gastroduodenal ulcers, though its effects have never been demonstrated in controlled investigations. This herb has been utilized in folk medicine throughout Europe and North America and has been widely cultivated. I make a tea of Comfrey and LIcorice Root. ), and echinacea (Echinacea spp. Why Do Herbalists Use Comfrey Then? Topical herbal therapies for treating osteoarthritis. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are a group of 660 phytochemicals found in over 6,000 plants. I just saw your post here. I use two cloths so I can keep one immersed in the tea and then continually switching them out. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! Saturated PAs are considered non-toxic, while unsaturated PAs are considered toxic (Hoffmann, 2003). Comfrey Tea. Pour the finished comfrey into a colbolt or amber colored bottle, label it and store it for future use. When it comes to the internal use of comfrey, some herbalists are comfortable continuing to use comfrey internally with a few cautions. The leaves are high in potassium and make excellent fertilizer. Comfrey tea is also the way gardeners commonly refer to the liquid organic fertilizer made with the leaves of this herb. There have been no recent reports in the literature of adverse reaction to comfrey despite continued use of this plant as a food and drug. Although traditionally used internally for stomach ulcers, it has been found that comfrey does not cure ulcers. Add 1 teaspoon of dried comfrey leaves to a teapot or infuser. Not for Internal Use Although some herbalists continue the tradition of using comfrey internally, mainly through teas and infusions, my use of comfrey is strictly for external applications. It can grow up to 5 feet tall. That being said, based on case reports of liver disease in individuals taking the leaf or root of unspecified. American Herbal Products Association’s botanical safety handbook, Body into balance: An herbal guide to holistic self-care, Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine, Mei, N., Guo, L., Fu, P.P., Heflich, R.H., & Chen, T. (2005). If you want to freeze comfrey leaves, I suggest you juice them first. Comfrey is not recommended for internal use because of the liver damage caused by its pyrrolizidine alkaloids.
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