Comfrey has large hairy green leaves which can be itchy if they touch any tender part. The stalk grows two or three feet high and is hollow and hairy. The flowers stand in order one above another; they are long, hollow and bell shaped, usually a light purple shade in color.
Traditionally, Comfrey has been a valuable demulcent (soothing) and healing herb used in the treatment of ulcers, colitis, and hiatus hernia. In recent years research suggests it should not be used internally; because of this long debate, medicinal herbalists recommend that comfrey only be used externally.
Comfrey contains the healing compound allantoin, which encourages healing in non life threatening wounds. The root or leaves can be used to make a poultice, infuse Comfrey into beeswax or paraffin over low heat, strain and cool. Leaves are best harvested before flowering, though the flowers contain allantoin as well. The root should be harvested in the fall. Take care not to harvest more than half the root of a mature (2-3 year old) plant, to ensure its survival.
As with any medical concerns, always research any plant you plan to use and how it may affect you. Bailiwick Farm is not responsible for the misuse or misunderstood use of any plant discussed here.