Comfrey Herb -Benefits, Uses And Side Effects
Scientific name: Symphytum officinalis
Actions: Alterative, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic (mild), astringent, cell proliferant, demulcent, essential oil, expectorant, hemostatic, inulin, mucilage, nutritive, pectoral, primary constituents, starch, styptic, tannins, tonic (yin), vulnerary.
Comfrey is a perennial herb that originated in Europe and temperate parts of Asia. Fond of moist soils, comfrey has an erect and stiff-haired stem, and it grows to a height of 20 to 120 cm. Its flowers are dull purple, violet, or whitish, and densely arranged in clusters. The wrinkly and hairy leaves are oblong, and often differ in appearance depending upon their position on the stem: the lower leaves are broad at the base and tapered at the ends while the upper leaves are broad throughout and narrowed only at the ends. The slimy roots show a horn-like appearance when dried. The root has a black exterior and fleshy whitish interior filled with juice.
Uses and benefits of Comfrey
Are there any side effects or interactions?
Comfrey contains potentially dangerous compounds known as pyrrolizidine alkaloids. The roots contain higher levels of these compounds and mature leaves contain very little, if any, of these alkaloids. Fresh young leaves contain higher amounts (up to 16 times more than mature leaves) and should be avoided. Other related forms, such as Russian comfrey (Symphytum uplandicum) and prickly comfrey (S. asperum), are sometimes available or mistakenly sold as regular comfrey but contain higher levels of these alkaloids. Several cases of people who developed liver disease or other serious problems from taking capsules or tea of comfrey have been reported over the years.
Most comfrey products do not list their pyrrolizidine alkaloid content on the label. Therefore, it is best to avoid internal use of products made from comfrey root or young leaves altogether.
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