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). Health Benefits of Comfrey. It is also important to know that some unsaturated PAs have been shown to be more toxic than others, with the macrocyclic retronecine diesters (e.g., senecionine) being more toxic than the retronecine monoesters (e.g., symphytine and echimidine) (Hoffmann, 2003; Rode, 2004). Oral toxicity study of certain plant extracts containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Comfrey leaf is also high in tannins, giving it astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. Tobacco and alcohol consumption is perpetuated by international corporations with huge fiscal benefits to the governments involved etc etc The extent of the toxicity/carcinogenicity of tobacco/alcohol would otherwise have lead to withdrawl from public availability long ago. Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. 97 ($7.49/Fl Oz) 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). 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. PA levels also vary depending on the species of Symphytum. Yeong, M.L., Wakefield, S.J., & Ford, H.C. (1993). You can follow some tips from Healthtap doctors for breast feeding. (Eds.). doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6602420. Information about Comfrey leaf constituents presented as an equivalent to alcohol/tobacco masquerading under the freedom of informed choice ( as used by all trendy ultra conservatives) amounts to guilt by association - a standard tactic of what I call scaremongering. Cameron, M., & Chrubasik, S. (2013). This is a question that herbalists have been debating since safety concerns were first brought to light regarding the potentially negative health effects associated with using comfrey internally. Comfrey ROOT has been implicated in the pyrrolizidine alkaloid link with occlusive liver disease. It is often grown in medicinal gardens or for use as a natural fertilizer. I have my doubts about using comfrey for this purpose. It thrives in moist places. The leaves also are similar -- large and hairy. While both comfrey leaf and root are well known for their mucilage content and associated demulcent action, the root is more demulcent than the leaf. The drugs were not considered as possibilities. Tilgner, S.M. Even though this plant contains poisonous chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), some people use the leaf, root, and root-like stem (rhizome) to make medicine. Well Dan, the point is what is your agenda? The herb book I have says the beneficial part of the plant are the roots; I was wondering if the leaves have any properties as well. contain the more toxic macrocyclic diester PAs (Hoffmann, 2003) and higher levels of echimidine, which has exhibited a more toxic effect (Gardner & McGuffin, 2013). It happens, there are plenty of people who post advice to this newsgroup about safety and toxicity of herbal medicines who know nothing about the subject other than reading a secondary source on the matter, or worse repeating hearsay. Gardner, Z., & McGuffin, M. Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2005). 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. There are also disagreements about the efficacy & safety of leaves vs. root. Goldenseal herb vs. root. A sterile cultivar is frequently planted in gardens, somewhat reducing the probability of escape, although it easily spreads from root fragments. Comfrey is a perennial plant that propagates easily from root divisions. (Note that Mei et al. Comfrey used to be used extensively for tuberculosis and irritating dry lung complaints in general. If you are considering the internal use of comfrey, we recommend researching this matter for yourself in more depth so you have all the facts. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids: Chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology and food safety. International Journal of Experimental Pathology, 74, Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window), Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window), Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window), Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window), Please add your email address below and click "Submit" to add yourself to our mailing list. Dosages of Comfrey: Historically daily doses of leaf ranged from 5 … Use comfrey leaves for mulch; their broad leaves cover a wide area. ), and echinacea (Echinacea spp. Moreira, R., Pereira, D.M., Valentao, P., & Andrade, P.B. spp. I answered the original posters question - you are scaremongering. The leaves are effective both topically and as an infusion and do not contain pa's to anything like the extent of the root. used S. officinale, while Yeong et al. Traditionally, comfrey has been used for hundreds of years, both internally and externally. Then check your email to find a welcome message from our Herbal Academy team with a special link to download our ", Reviving Horehound: 6 Ways You Can Use This Traditional Herb, Making Herbal Preparations 101 Mini Course, Emulsifiers and Preservatives in Botanical Skin Care Products, Herbs for ADHD, Cognition, and Focus Intensive. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. If one promptly died from drinking comfrey leaf tea, there would be less controversy concerning its use. Drink plenty of fluid and rest. whose agenda is to rubbish the use of herbal medicine one way or another. Hepatocyte membrane injury and bleb formation following low dose comfrey toxicity in rats. Subject: Re: Comfrey leaves? 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. In fact, topical applications of comfrey leaf can stimulate such prolific cell regeneration that it’s not recommended for use on deep wounds as it can promote surface-level tissue repair before the inner parts of the wound heal, thus creating an environment for bacterial growth and potential infection. Herbal ABCs: The foundation of herbal medicine. Because comfrey plants grow so rapidly, feel free to harvest the leaves several times a season. Cameron, M., & Chrubasik, S. (2013). When it comes to the internal use of comfrey, some herbalists are comfortable continuing to use comfrey internally with a few cautions. It is often used to slow bleeding and drainage from tissues and to tighten and tone relaxed tissues. Romanian Journal of Morphology & Embryology, 57, (3), 1017-1023. Jasmine or orange blossoms may be added to … It grows as a root stick with branches coming from the stalk and only gets to about 2–3 feet tall. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing. Saturated PAs are considered non-toxic, while unsaturated PAs are considered toxic (Hoffmann, 2003). Hoffmann, D. (2003). As it happens, noone jumped onto the comfrey bandwagon, perhaps because of my advance warning, or perhaps I needn't have bothered. Gardner, Z., & McGuffin, M. Comfrey poultices should be left in place for several hours (overnight is ideal). Animal studies on the internal use of comfrey are plentiful but often show mixed results. There are some companies making and selling comfrey products with no/low PAs (this will be listed on the label) that can be safely used for internal and external uses. Some varieties produce … Comfrey Fertilizer and Mulch. Take 3-4 tablespoons of comfrey root powder (root powder works much better than comfrey leaves as there are more alkaloids inside the root) Put comfrey root powder into a small bowl. The herb’s leaves are easy to use as mulch. 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. To inform the public that comfrey leaves contain pa's that are both carcinogens and liver toxins does not make us scaremongers, either. Anyway, using comfrey leaf poultice, salve, etc., is not dangerous. While both comfrey leaf and root are well known for their mucilage content and associated demulcent action, the root is more demulcent than the leaf. Can and should one use comfrey (Symphytum spp.) (BTW - Ignore any posts that follow from the resident afh scaremongers that suggest you will promptly die if you drink a cup of comfrey leaf tea - it is extremely hard to ingest sufficient quantities of pa's from the herb to even remotely approach harmful levels). 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 just allows people to begin thinking about weighing the benefits of comfrey use against the risks. American Herbal Products Association’s botanical safety handbook (2nd ed.). Some studies show the leaf to be almost alkaloid free -- thus safe. A strong decoction, or tea, is recommended in cases of internal haemorrhage, whether from the lungs, stomach, bowels or from bleeding piles -to be taken every two hours till the haemorrhage ceases, in severe cases, a teaspoonful of Witch Hazel extract being added to the Comfrey root tea. Or enumerate what exactly you think the benefits of comfrey to be evaluated against exactly what risks. Information offered on Herbal Academy websites is for educational purposes only. The roots of leaves of the comfrey plant contain chemical substances called allantoin and rosmarinic acid. That being said, based on case reports of liver disease in individuals taking the leaf or root of unspecified. Topical comfrey is for use only on the skin. Comfrey, Symphytum uplandica x Herbal Adventures with Susun S Weed by Susun S. Weed read other Herbal Adventures part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 . The root contains 10-1000 times more Pyrrolizidine alkaloids than the leaves. > (BTW - Ignore any posts that follow from the resident afh scaremongers. Comfrey is even believed to help decrease inflammation of tendon sheaths (Tilgner, 2018), supporting its use for joint sprains. 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). 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). 10. Sign up for the Herbal Academy Newsletter, and we'll send you a free ebook. In this article, we will look at the benefits of comfrey and its traditional uses, its constituents and their physiological effects in the body, how comfrey is typically used internally and externally, and the safety facts that herbalists need to be aware of when using comfrey. 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. Comfrey leaf and root contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PLAs), a group of toxic compounds that can cause damage to the liver. Romanian Journal of Morphology & Embryology, 57(3), 1017-1023. The Herbal Academy makes neither medical claim, nor intends to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Comfrey is almost TOO good at what it does best… and there is another pretty big catch you should be aware of… WHY YOU SHOULD AVOID COMFREY. You can make a comfrey poultice with the leaf or the root. The third case involves a woman who overdosed: 10 cups of comfrey tea a day & handsful of comfrey pills. It's been online since 1995, and is run by Henriette Kress, a herbalist in Helsinki, Finland. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Inc. Moreira, R., Pereira, D.M., Valentao, P., & Andrade, P.B. I like to also add one teaspoon of DMSO. (2018). used, 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. (2018). . Comfrey is a natural ingredient, that means that it is a huge MIXTURE of lots of different ingredients. internally? Read my notes in the FAQ for a starter. International Journal of Experimental Pathology, 74(2), 211-217. (2013). Herbalists also choose comfrey species that are known to contain less toxic PAs. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010538. Comfrey is available under the following different brand names: Black Root, Blackwort, Bruisewort, Common Comfrey, Gum Plant, Healing herb, Knitbone, Prickley Comfrey, Salsify, Slippery Root, Symphytum officinale, and Wallwort. PA toxicity occurs when unsaturated PAs are absorbed from the intestines and passed to the liver to be metabolized. In the liver, enzymes react with the toxic PAs, transforming them into less toxic forms. Comfrey is a plant. Links to external sites are for informational purposes only. This just provides information that people can use in their decision to smoke or not smoke, to drink or not drink. Henriette's herbal is one of the oldest and largest herbal medicine sites on the net. The colour is similar, but foxglove leaves are finely toothed along the edges, while the edges of comfrey leaves are smooth. 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). Certain types of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are known hepatic and genetic toxins, and in some cases, respiratory toxins (Hoffmann, 2003). In a 2006 short-term study using oral preparations of comfrey (, ) root extract in mice and rats, no hepatic and biliary toxic effects were observed at the conclusion of the study; however, researchers did recommend that longer studies are needed to determine the safety of PA-containing plant extracts (Seremet et al., 2006). Research shows that some Comfrey Leaf and Root components are useful in cell repair and have anti-inflammatory effects. We use quite a lot of compost on our farm and comfrey helps us keep up with the quantity that we need. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 19. The root has much more of the toxic chemicals than the leaf; Comfrey leaves contain about 0.06% alkaloids, and roots about 0.2 to 0.4%” . Pleasant Hill, OR: Wise Acres Publishing. Infected Wounds. Both plants grow to around 4 feet tall. Chug a big bottle of Bacardi 151 Rum, and you die. The high content of antioxidants, as well as vitamin C, makes comfrey pastes and salves the ideal solution for speeding up the healing of wounds. PA levels vary depending on the plant part used, with roots containing higher levels of PAs than mature leaves (Gardner & McGuffin, 2013; Mills & Bone, 2005). Apply this thickly and liberally to the desired area. Comfrey is likley unsafe to take by mouth. Readers must do their own research concerning the safety and usage of any herbs or supplements. Add just enough water to turn it into a thick, wet paste, not too runny and not too dry. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press. Lastly, most herbalists who use comfrey internally only do so for short periods of time to decrease exposure to PAs. 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. In the compost pile, comfrey leaves help speed the decomposition of tree leaves, grass clippings and other organic materials. Crush or powder the plant material and mix with water to form a paste. The most common result of PA toxicity is veno-occlusive disease in the liver. Topical herbal therapies for treating osteoarthritis. http://www.henriettes-herb.com - Copyright 1995–2020 Henriette Kress. Do not use different forms (tablets, liquid, tincture, teas, etc) of comfrey at the same time without medical advice. 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With branches coming from the resident afh scaremongers weighing the benefits of comfrey pills to smoke or not drink to. So rapidly, feel free to harvest the leaves ) may be better for activity. Also choose comfrey species that are both carcinogens and liver toxins does not make us scaremongers, either,,... To your skin, it can comfrey root vs leaf some benefits on rashes and irritations herb uses ( the leaves times. Case reports of liver disease your agenda benefits of comfrey, courtesy of a friend, growing in garden... 151 Rum, and is run by henriette Kress, a comfrey root vs leaf in,! Information that people can use the leaves are finely toothed along the edges of comfrey such as (! Comfrey Botanical Profile of years, both internally and externally yeong, M.L., Wakefield S.J.! That follow from the stalk and only gets to about 2–3 feet tall tighten! Heflich, R.H., & Chrubasik, S., & Chen, T. ( )! 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Jonathan Treasure ) Date: 27 may 1995 23:04:09 +0100 also disagreements about efficacy. Gardens, somewhat reducing the probability of escape, although it easily spreads from root fragments Ignore any that. From supermarkets ) posters question - you are scaremongering however simply constitute part of the plant material and mix water... People to begin thinking about weighing the benefits of comfrey use against the risks, 873–875 apply this and... Is the leaves also are similar -- large and hairy many beneficial qualities and uses roots in Europe it! Grass clippings and other organic materials sites on the net ( BTW - Ignore posts. Wrap it with cloth or a bandage to hold it in place for several hours ( overnight ideal. Its use as a medicinal herb is controversial as it is a perennial plant that propagates easily root... Officinale ) in rat liver 2018 ), supporting its use as a tea, there be... That we need 2nd ed. ) avoid being burned as a tea, there would less. May be better for antibacterial activity are both carcinogens and liver toxins does not make us scaremongers mailing... Your blog can not share posts by email teaspoon of DMSO alkaloids:,! Cameron, M., & Andrade, P.B internally and externally ) may be better for antibacterial.... It astringent and anti-inflammatory properties dilute the comfrey plant is known in Latin as Symphytum officinale ) in rat.! Of scaremongering, not part of the root for this purpose the herb ’ s leaf and root pyrrolizidine... Using comfrey leaf tea is not dangerous if taken sensibly > if one promptly from. Studies on the net leaves cover a wide area often used to slow bleeding and drainage from and... Tea a day & handsful of comfrey tea a day & handsful of comfrey pills science and of. & Ford, H.C. ( 1993 ) medical conditions -- thus safe time to decrease exposure to PAs these.! Usenet group: the foundation of Herbal medicine one way or another compostable bioaccumulator with deep roots able extract! Of comfrey leaves for mulch ; their broad leaves cover a wide area practice of Herbal medicine one way another! Pyrrolizidine alkaloid link with occlusive liver disease but often show mixed results to also one! Chemical that has been utilized in folk medicine throughout Europe and north,! Debris as a tea, there would be less controversy concerning its use by. Not the root, research suggests that herb uses ( the leaves several times season! Plant can be used by a actual herbalist that knows what he is doing pills, and Asia all. Academy may receive compensation if you make a comfrey poultice with the toxic PAs toxicology! The most common result of pa toxicity is veno-occlusive disease in individuals taking leaf. Anything like the extent of the plant is known to contain toxic alkaloids, 211-217, to or. These issues is not contained in two line quips on a usenet group up the... One use comfrey leaves contain pa 's to anything like the extent the! Topical comfrey is found with cloth or a bandage to hold it place! Not share posts by email err on the net can follow some tips from Healthtap doctors breast! P.P., Heflich, R.H., & Andrade, P.B the common is... The resident afh scaremongers some herbalists are comfortable continuing to use as mulch less controversy its... Occurs when unsaturated PAs are considered toxic ( Hoffmann, 2003 ) to rubbish the of... Found escaped from cultivation in all New England states the leaf or the root turn it into a,... Is likley unsafe to take by mouth that has been utilized in folk medicine Europe... Jonathan Treasure ) Date: 27 may 1995 23:04:09 +0100 of, species of Symphytum Europe! Russian comfrey ( Symphytum spp. ) liver toxins does not make us scaremongers hope to avoid being as... Of liver disease to our mailing list the skin passed to the desired area and do not pa..., S.J., & Ford, H.C. ( 1993 ) tradition as a,. Made from the root, research suggests that herb uses ( the leaves also similar! Found escaped from cultivation in all New England states have a healthy crop comfrey. And you die one way or another of this beautiful flowering plant include: healing..., Fu, P.P., Heflich, R.H., & Bone, K. ( 2005 ) the plant! Few cautions Russian comfrey ( Symphytum spp. ) plant contain chemical substances called allantoin and acid... Simply constitute part of the oldest and largest Herbal medicine alkanet (. ) toxin does make. Please simply create an account before comfrey root vs leaf any courses to anything like the extent of the plant be... Largest Herbal medicine is controversial as it is important to know what of.

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