It is no secret that I love comfrey. My love for one of God's special herbs developed through the reading of Isabell Shipard's book, How can I use HERBS in my Daily life? Isabell devotes 6 - 8 big pages to it's qualities and it's controversies. You see in Australia comfrey is on the TGA banned list for internal consumption and Isabell does not agree with that. Here is her online article on the herb where she talks about the TGA issue as well.
I believe Isabell's research is fair and balanced and so we eat comfrey in our home. Though I would encourage anyone else out there considering that, to read and make an informed decision on it first.
For external uses it is simply fantastic!
A few months ago my dh did his back in at work and he suffered it for two days before considering dropping his next shift in order to find a chiropractor that could relieve the pain. He had a shift on this afternoon and it was morning. I suggested that he try comfrey first. As he was about to go down for a sleep anyway (coming off a night shift) I would make a pack for his back/hip area. I picked three leaves from the garden, put it in the blender with maybe a Tbl of water, in order to make it a slurry, but not too runny. I packed it on the sore area, wrapped it in gladwrap plastic, placed a towel over the plastic and put a hot water bottle on the towel. Dh promptly feel asleep and didn't wake for another hour and a half. When he woke and removed the pack he didn't have the slightest bit of pain and it didn't come back.
THEN, I received the following email below...My own personal comfrey patch.
I had shared some information about comfrey with a friend in the States and then not long after that I received this email with the email title of "Comfrey ROCKS!":
-I asked you for some advice a while back and you suggested comfrey. (do you remember me?)
I was able to get a box of several comfrey starts the other day when I was out picking up meat from our Amish butcher. That evening, my son was catching a double header (that's two baseball games in a row.)
-In case you don't know, the catcher wears a face mask and a heavy guard over his chest. Also, my boy is HUGE as 14 year old boys go. (can't convert it to metric- but he is just short of 6 feet tall and easily 200 lbs, solid as an ox.) They were losing sunlight and the visiblity was getting iffy. The umpire had just said that if the game didn't end in 10 minutes he would call it, because he couldnt see the ball well enough. Apparently, neither could my son, becasue he missed a pitch and it nailed him in the chest. It sounded like a car wreck. (this particular pitcher has had his fast ball clocked at 60 miles an hour!)
My son dropped (just like in cartoons when an anvil falls on the rabbit's head ;) My husband (who is an MD) jumped the fence. People were swarming. He was conscious, his heart hadn't stopped (thanks hubby, for that- THAT nightmare hadn't even occured to me!) When they peeled his chest gaurd off it was SHOCKING. About a hands width under his left collarbone was a dark purple turning black as we watched massive bruise- you could even see where the stitching of the baseball was.
It was decided that they didn't need to call an ambulance (NOT decided by me... I was rather panicky.) I ran to my van to get my cell phone (doc's # is in it) and grabbed the ice packs I keep there (the kind you bend to activate) I happened to see the basket of comfrey. I grabbed about 5 plants- leaves, stems, roots everything. I tucked them inside a tee shirt that was in my van (I do not know why a shirt was there, but I am in no mood to quibble...) I used a baseball bat to smash the shirt wrapped comfrey until the shirt was dripping with juice. I ran back to the dug out. My husband had snapped a pic of the wound with his phone (fyi- this is a good thing to do, swelling can obscure the initial wound- who knew???) I pressed the comfrey onto his chest and replaced the ice packs over it. My husband let me do it, although he is a surgeon and has little patience for such things. He was already on the phone to his colleagues, arranging an x ray and a MRI. Clearly anticipating some sort of surgery being necessary.....
Well. When we arrived at the hosptial (probably 20 minutes after the injury) No one would ever have believed how bad it initially looked, thankfully, we had a pic! There is a hairline fracture of two ribs. Almost NO swelling and remarkably little bruising. Amazing. Simply amazing.
thank you so much.
AND_ Last night at the library my husband actually checked out 3 books on natural cures and herbalism. I NEVER thought that would happen.
This friend emailed me again later and mentioned that her husband was a board certified surgeon with special training in trauma, and on staff at a tertiary level trauma center in the USA!
Just an incredible story and I am so grateful that this friend shared this with me.
I just had to add this photo in. No, it's not mine unfortunately, but I'd LOVE a patch like that!
Just to finish, I'd like to share an Australian man's prespective on comfrey, Isabell shared his thoughts in response to comfrey being banned for internal use:
"Another Australian, who valued the HDRA research, was Foster Savage, who I mentioned earlier. I had the opportunity to know him, personally, when he settled in Nambour to farm (and later Cooroy); and, I knew you would guess, he grew lots of comfrey! Wilted comfrey was fed to his animals in large amounts. Why did he allow it to wilt? He told me that animals could eat much more, each day, when it was wilted! He often had groups and private people visit and he would, freely, share his knowledge of comfrey and how it benefited his land, animals and his family (note, he had 13 children). When legislation placed comfrey on the poisons schedule in Australia, and newspapers highlighted the ban, he wrote a letter to the Sunshine Coast Daily, in defense of comfrey, saying:
"I was perhaps responsible for 95% of the comfrey in Australia, having introduced the plant to this country in 1954, and having used the plant in great quantities, since then; I am, perhaps, competent to speak about it and to make a few comments on the …remarks about comfrey made by the CSIRO scientist …"To say that two leaves, eaten daily - over a couple of years - will cause serious disease, is simply not true. In our house, we have eaten 70 leaves, or thereabouts, daily, for 24 years: in the form of comfrey tea, liquidised in a vitamiser as a green drink, and in salads. I also fed comfrey to my farm animals. Knowing the power of comfrey to restore a worn out animal quickly, and make her milk again, I once bought an old cow at the Dandenong Market, when farming in Victoria. It had been discarded by some farmer, as worn out. I put her on comfrey, giving her 90 lbs of wilted comfrey (wilted to increase the cow’s intake of comfrey’s extraordinary nutrients), and 90 lbs made a pretty big heap, about 4 feet high. This poor, old, creature took to the comfrey, without hesitation … she was starving for minerals and her instincts gave her a craving for comfrey. When she began to eat, she would eat off the heap of leaves for a couple of hours, then sit down for an hour or so. Later, she would continue eating, until every leaf was gone. If Dr. Culvenor’s words were true, imagine the poison she would be taking into her body, with this quantity of comfrey daily. If comfrey attacked the liver, then this cow would have died, because she was in a worn out condition. Instead, she doubled her milk output, within a week, and in a fortnight, trebled it. The remarkable thing, was that the cream that settled overnight, was some 3/4 inch thick and the separation of cream from the milk was so perfect, that the cream could be lifted off, with none remaining. I fed comfrey to calves, as much as they could eat, again with only gratifying results. I fed pigs, entirely on comfrey and grain, as much comfrey as they could eat, and the quality of those pigs was legendary, in the district. The fame of comfrey spread far and wide, for my farm was visited by 6,000 farmers from around Australia and from overseas. Finally, I well remember the enthusiastic remarks of the butcher who regularly killed our comfrey-fed calves. He told us that he had never before, seen such healthy livers … that, mind you, after being reared on a herb that was supposed to cause liver diseases!"