Comfrey has been used to heal and alleviate pain for most of human history. Not only does it soothe and protect damaged tissues, it heals inflamed mucous membranes. It lessens pain, particularly in bones, tendons and lungs.
One of the most compelling uses for comfrey is for its ability to stimulate cell regeneration. One of comfrey’s most important chemical constituents is allantoin. Found within comfrey’s root mucilage and its leaves, allantoin activates the growth of new skin cells and stimulates healing both internally and externally. The roots contain about twice as much allantoin as the leaves. Allantoin is a chemical compound that makes comfrey so unique because in addition to fostering the growth of new cells, it is also a leucocytosis promoter. It increases white blood cells which build immunity against infectious conditions.
Allantoin is also an emollient, creating a light barrier on the skin’s surface. Another powerful property of allantoin is that it acts as a keratinolytic. Its ability to soften keratin helps the skin to hold water as well as to help the outermost layer of skin cells shed more readily. As a result, skin is more hydrated, smooth, and softer with improved texture. Along with allantoin, comfrey’s mucilage has anti-inflammatory qualities which provide relief from pain associated with broken bones, sprains, bruises and cuts. Mucilage is a gummy substance that is soothing to inflamed tissues because it acts as a demulcent.
Rosmarinic acid found in comfrey contains antioxidant effects that protect the skin from environmental stressors like UV damage. Its herbal actions also alleviate pain and inflammation. Rosmarinic acid also contains antimicrobial and antibacterial actions making it helpful for combating acne. Tannins contained in comfrey provide an astringent effect which protects the skin from bacteria and toxins by drawing them out.
The pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) in comfrey are believed to potentially cause liver problems when taken internally. However, many have taken comfrey internally with no eported negative effects. The risk of damage from PAs appears to be low. To minimize potential risk, avoid internal use of comfrey for prolonged periods of time. Studies have shown comfrey to be safe for topical use.
We grow our own comfrey in our micro-farm in Sausalito, California and also source comfrey from the western United States. All our comfrey is grown organically without the use of pesticides on small organic farms we have a personal connection with.