The United States FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not allow for internal use to be recommended or suggested on labels. 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). Yeong, M.L., Wakefield, S.J., & Ford, H.C. (1993). Then check your email to find a welcome message from our Herbal Academy team with a special link to download our "Herbal Tea Throughout The Seasons" Ebook! Comfrey is traditionally used to treat wounds and bone fractures. When it comes to the internal use of comfrey, some herbalists are comfortable continuing to use comfrey internally with a few cautions. Comfrey is not recommended for use with deep wounds or unset bones. Comfrey is used as an aid for humans. Comfrey is a shrub that grows in parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. Some people choose to use the tea over the tincture because they do not want the alcohol or they prefer the soothing effect that comes from drinking the tea. Comfrey is perfectly safe to use externally and is a first choice remedy for fractures and slow healing wounds. The risk of liver damage to any one individual is dependent on that person's nutritional status, their current use of hepatotoxic drugs as well as intake of food/drugs that effect liver metabolism. Individuals in the study had been using 0.5 to 25 grams of comfrey leaf per day for 1 to 30 years. species, the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) did ban the sale of botanical products containing toxic PAs (including those with Russian comfrey and prickly comfrey) for internal use, suggesting those products should be restricted to external use (Gardner & McGuffin, 2013). 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. Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2005). It is often used to slow bleeding and drainage from tissues and to tighten and tone relaxed tissues. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! Comfrey contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids that makes it toxic and can harm the liver. Comfrey’s leaf and root both have many beneficial qualities and uses. Alternatives to comfrey tea for internal use Comfrey was historically recommended internally to support healing when there is a dry cough or connective tissue injury (bone and skin). Saturated PAs are considered non-toxic, while unsaturated PAs are considered toxic (Hoffmann, 2003). Comfrey Root Tea - Not For Internal Use by TerraVita 25 tea bags: Currently not available for purchase. Cooled tea can be applied to bruises and burns to speed healing and help prevent infections. Comfrey is sometimes used as a mild analgesic. However, I would not suggest that for everyone. Comfrey leaf is also high in tannins, giving it astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. Use Comfrey Leaves as Fertilizer Use the first cutting of spring leaves by chopping them up and placing them in the soil next to your garden plants. More Photographs below. In herbal medicine, it was used for treating tendon damage, broken bones, lung congestion, ulcerations in gastrointestinal tract, joint inflammation, lung congestion and also promotes wound healing. A comfrey tea or decoction can be used in the mouth as a rinse or gargle. 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). Certain types of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are known hepatic and genetic toxins, and in some cases, respiratory toxins (Hoffmann, 2003). Comfrey tea is as old as our use of the herb for medicinal purposes. You can use comfrey leaves in tea, and you can use your comfrey in a bath. Cameron, M., & Chrubasik, S. (2013). It has been suggested that its use can be dated back to 400 B.C. Pour water over the tea leaves. 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. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010538. 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. 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). Discover the fascinating art of making your own herbal remedies in this FREE online course. Traditionally called knitbone or boneset, the tea was reportedly used by ancient Greeks and Romans to heal injuries after a bad fall or accident. © 2004 Dorena Rode       Acknowledgment. If you want to freeze comfrey leaves, I suggest you juice them first. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 19. The Herbal Academy neither endorses them nor is in any way responsible for their content. (Eds.). However, as we’ve come to learn more about PAs and their effects on human and animal health, some herbalists have changed their approach to using PA-containing herbs, including comfrey. Anderson et al set out to determine if occult liver damage was … 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). Pleasant Hill, OR: Wise Acres Publishing. I think most people have heard the pyrrolizidine alkaloids found in many comfreiy products are problematic, and that we should be cautious about internal use of comfrey, or not use it at all. Other factors that may have amplified the risk of liver damage are present. 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). Comfrey Contraindications. It has had various uses, not only as a medicinal herb but also as food and drink. For internal application, comfrey is claimed to benefit gastritis and gastroduodenal ulcers, though its effects have never been demonstrated in controlled investigations. The Internal Use of Comfrey. Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) has great therapeutic benefits and can be used for healing wounds, helping bone knit and repair after a break as well as bedsores. Humans have consumed comfrey widely as a vegetable and have taken comfrey formulations of tea or tablets. 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). It is used as a tea or vegetables by humans. Poultices were made for external wounds and tea was consumed for internal ailments. 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. When it comes to the internal use of comfrey, some herbalists are comfortable continuing to use comfrey internally with a few cautions. (2018). There have been no recent reports in the literature of adverse reaction to comfrey despite continued use of this plant as a food and drug. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing. Moreira, R., Pereira, D.M., Valentao, P., & Andrade, P.B. Comfrey Tea. Since comfrey leaf was a commonly available tea in both the United States and the United Kingdom and many people had been consuming it for years, there was a readily available exposed population. That is something each individual must decide for oneself. The publication of the rodent toxicity studies in the 1970's and 1980's led to the obvious question of comfrey safety in humans. Topical herbal therapies for treating osteoarthritis. The herb has become a topic of considerable debate, as it contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), which have been shown to pose a real risk of hepatotoxicity. Hepatocyte membrane injury and bleb formation following low dose comfrey toxicity in rats. 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. Case Reports of Toxicity with Internal Use of Comfrey. The following reports are from the late 1980's and early 1990's. PA levels also vary depending on the species of Symphytum. I make a tea of Comfrey and LIcorice Root. Use comfrey for no more than 10 days in a row. Comfrey leaf and root contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PLAs), a group of toxic compounds that can cause damage to the liver. Traditionally, comfrey has been used for hundreds of years, both internally and externally. Utah-based Christopher Enterprises Inc., agreed to a preliminary injunction that bars the company from marketing products containing comfrey "for internal uses or on open wounds," the commission said. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 5, , CD010538. Comfrey Contraindications. Comfrey tea can be taken internally or it can be used topically on any external inflammations. Comfrey or Blackwort is used in health and its properties are almost the same as those of Borage. Hepatocyte membrane injury and bleb formation following low dose comfrey toxicity in rats. I wanted to say that I am a cancer survivor and I do owe it to my daily herbal regime. Cooled tea is used to treat bruises and burns; it soothes the damaged skin, stops the itch, prevents infection, and speeds healing. You can get around the comfrey problem for internal use as comfrey's active ingredient is allantoin. New York: CRC Press. Comfrey, a perennial herb native to the ditches and riverbanks of Europe, has long been used in traditional medicine. Comfrey tea is readily available at most health stores. Animal studies on the internal use of comfrey are plentiful but often show mixed results. Comfrey as a natural hair rinse. Comfrey can be bought and grown at home. The Herbal Academy supports trusted organizations with the use of affiliate links. Comfrey is Excellent for Healing Bruises Plant-based creams and balms that can soothe the skin but also poison the internal organs if used in excess quantities. At least externally the root's OK here & the leaves can still be used as tea or poultice. Comfrey Medicinal Uses Comfrey has several medicinal actions. There are no justified indications for internal use and the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medicinal Products (BfArM) has banned the use of comfrey alkaloids for the treatment of gastritis, gastroduodenal ulcers and diarrhoea and there are no tea brands available containing comfrey. Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Mei, N., Guo, L., Fu, P.P., Heflich, R.H., & Chen, T. (2005). The compounds in comfrey’s leaves and roots--pyrrolizidine alkaloids--are toxic and may damage the liver, cautions UMMC. Information offered on Herbal Academy websites is for educational purposes only. 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. Comfrey leaves are succulent and difficult to dry at normal room temperatures. I think most people have heard the pyrrolizidine alkaloids found in many comfreiy products are problematic, and that we should be cautious about internal use of comfrey, or not use it at all. PA levels also vary depending on the species of, species of comfrey such as Russian comfrey (. ) I sweeten it with a few drops of honey and drink each morning. Gardner, Z., & McGuffin, M. Using comfrey as a herbal tea is an easy way of obtaining results. As a tea, Comfrey is surprisingly used more for external applications rather than internal ones. This healing herb may be the ideal remedy to mend and soothe your aches and pains. Is comfrey safe to use or not? Comfrey is an herb that grows in temperate areas of western Asia, Europe, Australia and North America. 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. It has a mild flavor. Allow the leaves to wilt for a few hours after cutting, and then dig them into the soil to … While comfrey is an herb with a long history of many different uses, its internal use has become quite controversial due to scientific studies, some dating back 40-60 years, that revealed potentially harmful effects of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) (Moreira et al., 2018), which are found in 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). Greeks and Romans used comfrey to stop heavy bleeding, treat bronchial problems, and heal wounds and broken bones. I use two cloths so I can keep one immersed in the tea and then continually switching them out. Caution is advised for these remedies because comfrey is not completely safe for internal use. It is a source of nourishment for other flowers and vegetables. Much debate surrounds the safety of comfrey due to various parts … Dried comfrey leaves may be brewed into a tea to use as a hair rinse. Over the years there has been some controversy regarding the internal use of this tea, despite it being uncommon to experience side effects while using this tea. However, in recent years, because of safety concerns, most … Definitely do not use during pregnancy or nursing, with infants, and if you have liver or kidney disease. Comfrey is distinguished by large, hairy leaves, a curled inflorescence with white to purple bell-shaped flowers, and black roots. The commission said the company falsely claimed it was safe to take comfrey products orally, as suppositories or to apply them to open wounds. Because of this, it is often used to soothe hot, dry tissues, particularly those in the gastrointestinal, respiratory, and urinary tracts for digestive ulcers and diarrhea, coughs, or to ease symptoms associated with a urinary tract infection, respectively (Hoffmann, 2003; Tilgner, 2018). Do not take internally. Affiliate links are shared throughout the website and the Herbal Academy may receive compensation if you make a purchase with these links. Humans have consumed comfrey widely as a vegetable and have taken comfrey formulations of tea or tablets. PA toxicity occurs when unsaturated PAs are absorbed from the intestines and passed to the liver to be metabolized. You can mix about 100-5000 mg of allantoin to 2 cc of DMSO. contain the more toxic macrocyclic diester PAs (Hoffmann, 2003) and higher levels of echimidine, which has exhibited a more toxic effect (Gardner & McGuffin, 2013). British Journal of Cancer, 92(5), 873–875. There is no reliable data to confirm or deny the FDA ruling that comfrey is unsafe to eat. Although, liver damage can only be definitively determined by visual inspection of tissue obtained from a biopsy, serum markers for liver pathology are a good indication of liver disease. More Photographs below. However, the extent of this risk has not been determined and there is a great deal of evidence suggesting safe use in humans is possible. (2016). Folk recipes mention using comfrey root tea to cure stomach upset and eating comfrey leaves fresh or cooked as a general tonic. Internal Use of Comfrey. Individuals should seek the advice of a healthcare provider or trained herbal specialist before using it. 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. Comfrey can also be made into a lovely soothing cream. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010538. Comfrey tincture can help settle an upset stomach, help with ulcers, help stop diarrhea and can act as a cough suppressant. You can chop the leaves and dry in a dehydrator on low heat or in a warm oven. 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. 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. Their opinions were given after one crude experiment where a group of pigs were fed large amounts of comfrey for 3 months. It can grow up to 5 feet tall. Groves, M.N. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids: Chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology and food safety. 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). Comfrey leaves are succulent and difficult to dry at normal room temperatures. The essential guide to herbal safety. Perhaps one of the easiest ways to use comfrey is in a tea. Despite safety concerns, comfrey is used by mouth for stomach ulcers, heavy menstrual periods, diarrhea, bloody urine, cough, bronchitis, cancer, and chest pain (angina). Pregnancy/Lactation Distribution and Habitat: Comfrey is a plant indigenous to Europe and temperate parts of Asia. Taken internally as decoction (boiled root tea), comfrey is described as effective against tuberculosis, internal tumors and ulcers, and promotes the healing of bone fractures. 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). Patients with hypersensitivity or allergic reactions to the plant should also avoid external use. Lastly, most herbalists who use comfrey internally only do so for short periods of time to decrease exposure to PAs. Hot comfrey tea is wonderful for a cough, especially with a bit of raw honey. Allantoin makes it effective for softening skin and hair. For internal applications, comfrey has been used as infusions and extracts for the treatment of gastritis, gastroduodenal ulcers, and lung congestion (Roeder, 1995). Comfrey is banned for internal use in quite a few countries. Those who are hesitant about using comfrey internally may still find it useful in some near-internal applications. Comfrey illustration from Kohler’s Medicinal Plants, 1887. Oral toxicity study of certain plant extracts containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Common Names: Blackwort, bruisewort, common comfrey, knitbone, slippery root, boneset, yalluc, gum plant, ass ear. External Healing. Herbalists also choose comfrey species that are known to contain less toxic PAs. What you need is to dissolve allantoin, which is not soluble in water. However, it is soluble in DMSO and this can help with fractures. Dried comfrey leaves may be brewed into a tea to use as a hair rinse. The Herbal Academy makes neither medical claim, nor intends to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Avoid using comfrey gratuitously. Use comfrey for no more than 10 days in a row. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. The tea can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months for cool, soothing use. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids: Chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology and food safety. The following reports are from the late 1980's and early 1990's. Anderson et al set out to determine if occult liver damage was apparent in twenty-nine healthy people that had been taking comfrey on a long term basis. Comfrey as a natural hair rinse. Comfrey is without a doubt a prime example of the healing paradox, and has been the subject of considerable debate in recent years. 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, Herbs for ADHD, Cognition, and Focus Intensive. I make a tea of Comfrey and LIcorice Root. ), and echinacea (Echinacea spp. For … 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).
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