Comfrey- Herbs for Beginners


Comfrey is an amazing plant that offers great medicine and it helps other plants to grow. Comfrey is soothing and cooling, and it helps with hot, dry, painful conditions. It has been used for centuries in wound care, as food for people and animals, as medicine, and as a garden fertilizer. If you look at comfrey leaves, they have little hairs on them that are scratchy, uncomfortable, and irritating. God put clues in plants to remind us of what they’re good for. This is called the Law of Signatures. Comfrey’s hairy, scratchy leaves remind us that it helps heal things that feel scratchy, uncomfortable, and irritated. Comfrey’s wide, luscious, dark green leaves with leaf lines that look like cells remind us that it wants to help everything grow! 

Here are other examples of plants with built-in reminders of what they can help with.  

Carrots are high in Vitamin A which is good for the eyes.

Walnuts have healthy oils which are needed for our brain

and nerves to work well.

Avocado contains important oils, protein and nutrients for pregnancy and growing babies. 

Beets are high in iron which helps rebuild red blood cells. 

Mullein helps with back pain. See how it looks like vertebrae?

Comfrey's scratchy, irritating hairy leaves tell you it helps treat hot, scratchy, irritated conditions.

If you're teaching this lesson to kids, you can make a matching game. In one column put the pictures of the carrots, walnuts, avocado, beets, mullein, and comfrey. In the other column, list "brain, growing babies, back pain, eyes, red blood cells, and hot, irritated conditions." Ask each child to draw a line connecting the plant to what it can help with. 


Comfrey has wide leaves that mostly grow from the base of the plant. The leaves are dark green with rough little hairs on them. In the early summer, they make beautiful small bell flowers that range from purple, to blue to pink. Bees love the flowers. The roots of comfrey can grow 8-10 feet deep. Once comfrey is established in an area, it is hard to eliminate because the roots go so deep. If you till comfrey up in your garden, all the little bits of comfrey will grow more comfrey plants. Comfrey wants to spread its gifts!  Comfrey is native to Europe and Asia, and was brought to America by early settlers. 


Comfrey is famous for its regenerating, healing properties. This story is from my friend, Jeanne Davis. “Our mom learned about comfrey from Dr. Christopher and put it to use every chance she got.  He often called it "Bone Knit" because it heals the body so well. Our grandpa owned a rock shop and accidentally got his hand caught in the saw/polisher one day, which ground his hand to the bone. Mom made up a batch of comfrey paste (equal parts of cleaned and dried fresh comfrey, wheat germ oil, and honey). By the end of the day, you could already see the flesh growing back, and Grandpa healed without scars. 

After giving birth to her 8th and final child, our mom had an aneurysm and nearly died. Our dad blended comfrey in water and brought it to her in big mugs to the hospital, and she healed quickly.” 

Mucus Membrane Healer

Learning about how comfrey works will help you think about how to use it. One of the uses of comfrey is to help heal mucus membranes. Let’s talk about mucus membranes for a minute so that you can see where comfrey would be helpful.

What is a mucus membrane? Inside of your mouth is a mucus membrane. A mucus membrane is the moist inner lining of an organ or body cavity. Mucus membranes have a wet, slippery coating that helps protect your body from the outside world. Mucus membranes protect organs from things that could irritate them. You have mucus membranes in your mouth, nose, eyes, throat, inside your lungs, in your stomach, intestines and bladder. Mucus membranes make mucus that flush dust, pollen, viruses or bacteria out of your lungs. Mucus membranes coat your stomach so that spicy food isn’t irritating. Mucus membranes make a protective barrier against bacteria and viruses in your nose, intestines, and bladder.  Mucus membranes are kind of like skin that is on the inside. 

Comfrey is really good at healing mucus membranes. It has a wet, slimy mucilage that helps cells regrow. One of the molecules in comfrey that helps speed up healing is called allantoin. Allantoin is such a tiny molecule, that it easily goes through your skin like wind through a screen door. Herbs are smart, and know where they’re needed in the body and will go there once they’re inside the body. 

Comfrey can help the body heal anywhere there are mucus membranes- sore throats, stomach or intestinal problems, bladder infections, lung problems, eye problems. You can use comfrey as a tea or juice, put it on as a poultice, or put it in a bath or make a tea to use as a cool eye wash. Adding herbs like calendula, licorice, and chamomile help make the comfrey tea even better. 

Dr. Christopher said “Comfrey is one of the finest healers for the respiratory system, especially in hemorrhage (bleeding) of the lungs.” P 337, School of Natural Healing Herbal Reference Guide.  

Comfrey used to be used for tuberculosis, a lung disease that made people cough up blood. It stops bleeding and helps heal mucus membranes.

Wound Healer, Regrower of Cells or Cell Proliferant

Comfrey is famous for helping things heal and regrow. It is a cell proliferant (helps cells regrow).  Comfrey helps decrease swelling and relieve pain. It is used for arthritis, bruises, and injuries. Comfrey helps decrease swelling with insect bites. Comfrey also helps stop bleeding. 

I have loved using comfrey, here's my recent experience with comfrey. On family vacation, I was getting more hiking exercise than I normally do and I had sore joints- hips, knees, ankles. After a particularly long day hiking, my joints were sore enough that I worried I might not be able to enjoy hiking the following day. I remembered comfrey, and put comfrey salve on my tired achy joints, and felt my pain diminishing right away. I am thankful the Lord gave me a little nudge to bring comfrey when I was packing! I was surprised at how well it worked! The soreness was almost completely gone, and I enjoyed the rest of the vacation without any joint discomfort. I also put comfrey on my mosquito bites, and they didn't get swollen at all. 

I have made comfrey salve before, but this was a fresh, recent batch straight from the garden, and it was much more potent. Home grown salves are always fresher and stronger. When you buy things at the store, you don't know how long ago the herbs were grown, or how long it was before the dried herbs were made into a product, and how long the product has been sitting on the shelf. Comfrey is so easy to grow, and grows well almost anywhere. 

For the freshest, most effective herbs, grow your own. Make enough salve or dry enough herbs to use until the next growing season, and not a lot more. One of the mistakes I have made is making too much of a salve or tincture, and then having to throw away what has gone bad. The fresh herbs have better results than herbs that are a few years old. Trust that the Lord and the earth will provide the herbs and plants as you need them. 

Here are some ways you might use comfrey. Recipes are at the end of this article. 

1. Juice- Comfrey can be made into a juice by itself with water, and it is good if you don't mind the earthy taste of fresh greens! To make a sweeter comfrey juice, put a bottle of canned peaches and a couple large leaves of comfrey in a blender. Blend it then pour it in a pitcher. Add a large can of pineapple juice and ice. This makes a delicious rehydrating summer time juice.

2. Comfrey seasoning- This is similar to a Japanese seasoning mix called Furikake that has seaweed in it and is used as a rice seasoning. Mix dried comfrey with seaweed, salt, garlic and other seasonings in a food processor. Sprinkle it on rice, pasta or eggs. It is very high in minerals and good for you!

3.A cold comfrey tea is made by putting a few comfrey leaves in cold water and letting them sit for several hours or overnight. This will help pull the cooling, slimy goodness known as mucilage out of the comfrey and into the water. Strain it, and it’s ready to drink! Mucilage helps sore throats and other mucus membranes heal.

4. A poultice is a paste of herbs and water. Kind of like a mud pie, but with mashed up herbs instead of mud! It sounds messy, but poultices can really help heal wounds. Blenderize fresh comfrey leaves with a little water and apply it directly to a wound that has been cleaned well. Cover the poultice with a cloth or bandage, changing the dressing, and applying a new poultice every 3 hours. Calendula, yarrow, plantain, echinacea, and cleavers would be good additives to the poultice. Or comfrey is great by itself.

5. A comfrey salve can really help injuries heal more quickly. A salve is a mixture of an herb (like comfrey) with olive oil and beeswax. It is melted into a liquid, then hardens when it cools. A comfrey salve can be put on an injured joint, arthritis or broken bone. It will help with pain, decrease inflammation, and help new cells to grow. Comfrey is also a great addition to lotions.

6. Comfrey tinctures are great to use on the skin to help
things heal. A tincture is an herb (like comfrey) dissolved into alcohol. It is a liquid, usually kept in a glass bottle. 

Dr. Patrick Jones is a veterinarian herbalist who treats a lot of horses, dogs, and other animals with nasty wounds.  Dr. Jones has found that it is equally effective and less messy to put a comfrey tincture directly on the wound, instead of a poultice (the herbal mud pie we talked about earlier). 

If the skin is broken, he uses one teaspoon of comfrey tincture to 2-4 ounces of water, because alcohol on a scrape can hurt. Adding herbs that kill bacteria to the tincture, like calendula and yarrow make the wound tincture better at fighting bacteria. Adding herbs like plantain and cleavers will also speed up the healing. He instructs the owners to spray the wound with comfrey tincture several times a day. The comfrey tincture directly applied to the wound has great results. Most herbs can be used in the same way with people and animals. He has some great case studies on his blog of devastating wounds healed with comfrey on his website, Homegrown Herbalist. Here's a link to a story about a terrible wound on a dog that healed with the help of comfrey. Here's another link about a large head wound that comfrey helped to heal, and even regrow hair. 

Comfrey is very high in minerals and has a lot of protein, too. It has a higher amount of protein than alfalfa, and is good for feeding animals. Cows, rabbits, chickens, horses, and pigs all do well with comfrey, and it helps them stay healthy. Because it is high in protein, comfrey was used by some vegetarians as a protein replacement. 


People have been eating comfrey and feeding it to their animals for thousands of years, but lately concern about pyrrolizidine alkaloids, or PAs has made people more cautious. Comfrey contains PAs. This is a molecule that can cause liver problems, even liver failure at very high doses over a long period of time. Dr. Christopher said this, “If the liver is congested or weak, it is better to use the mature leaf for internal use, avoiding the root and young leaf if possible. Generally, very large amounts are required to produce any harmful effect, so just be wise in your use of the root and young leaves.” P 337, School of Natural Healing Herbal Reference Guide. 

Here are some things to think about:

1. Consider the part of the plant you’re working with. Usually in plants, you want to use the young tender leaves. In comfrey, the mature leaves are better because they have less PAs than the young leaves. The root has the highest amount of PAs, followed by the young leaves. There are less PAs in comfrey leaves after the plant has flowered and gone to seed. The large mature leaves are safest to use. The root is great used on the skin, but shouldn't be taken internally. 

2. Consider how you’re giving the plant. Comfrey used for skin care is the safest, because the skin doesn’t absorb PAs. If you’re going to take the comfrey by mouth, avoid really high doses and taking comfrey for long periods of time (longer than a couple weeks). If you’re taking comfrey by mouth, a comfrey tea (which is water based) will be safer than taking a comfrey tincture (which is alcohol based). Water doesn't absorb PAs very well, but alcohol does. Applying a tincture over skin for an injury works well though

3. Consider who you are giving comfrey to. If there are any liver problems, it’s best to avoid comfrey or use it only on the skin. If they’re pregnant, or are a new baby or young infant with a developing liver it is better to avoid comfrey. 

4. Comfrey isn’t recommended for cancer. Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells that takes over everything around it, killing the good cells around it. Comfrey doesn’t distinguish between healthy cells and cancer cells. It is a cell proliferant, meaning it makes cells grow. Comfrey could make the cancer cells grow.

5. Comfrey isn’t recommended for puncture wounds, like a deep nail puncture injury, or a surgical wound. The body will usually heal from the inside first. The body will push the bacteria and dead cells that are part of the puncture injury out towards the surface of the skin as it heals. Comfrey is such a good healer, that it may heal skin too quickly, before the body has gotten rid of the bacteria that may be deep below the skin. Putting comfrey on a puncture wound may create a pocket of bacteria under the skin that can get infected. 

6. If a broken bone hasn’t been set into the right position, and you put comfrey on it, it may start healing in the wrong position. Wait until a broken bone is set in the right position before using comfrey.

To recap:

Comfrey used on the skin is usually safe. Use the older more mature leaves if you're taking it by mouth. Make sure the person doesn't have liver issues, or is not very young (developing liver). 

Don't use comrey on a deep puncture wound or surgical wound or cancer.

Is there a possibility of infection? If there is, a water-based comfrey tea or poultice would be better than an oil-based comfrey salve. Oil-based salves can seal in heat and bacteria, while a water-based poultice or tea would do better at letting heat and infection out. A comfrey tincture would also work. 

Great Garden Helper

Comfrey has long roots! They can grow 8-10 feet long, drawing minerals out of the ground, and bringing them to the soil’s surface. The long roots make space for water and air to get into the soil, helping aerate the soil. Comfrey helps other plants grow better by making important nutrients more available at the surface of the soil. 

Comfrey is great to plant next to fruit trees. When the comfrey gets big, the weight of its leaves make the leaves flop over. The fallen comfrey leaves die and turn into mineral rich soil- feeding the fruit tree next to it. 

Comfrey leaves can be placed directly on the soil around other garden plants. As the leaves decompose, they help feed the plants with important minerals. 

A liquid fertilizer can be made with comfrey leaves. Some people call this comfrey fertilizer liquid gold. To make liquid gold comfrey fertilizer, first get a 3 or 5 gallon bucket with a lid. Then fill the bucket ¾ full with comfrey leaves. It helps to tear the leaves into smaller pieces, but will still work if you don’t. Next, fill the bucket with water until it covers the leaves. Then put a lid on the bucket, with a rock over the lid to keep the lid on. Let it sit undisturbed, to ferment for a couple of weeks, you can even let it go for a few months. Then remove the lid. The fermented comfrey will be slimy and really, really stinky- like manure. Straining it or pouring it on your plants can be messy! The comfrey liquid gold will stain and stink up your clothes and shoes if it gets on them- so wear clothes that you don’t mind getting stained. Strain the fermented comfrey and then dilute it 10 parts water to 1 part comfrey and put it on your garden plants. You can also pour a cup or so around garden plants without straining it, but then you’ll have the slimy and stinky remnants of comfrey leaves sitting around your plants!

A comfrey tea sprayed on plants to help get rid of mold and mildew and stimulate growth. 

Comfrey’s Wild Cousin

Hounds Tongue is a wild cousin of comfrey. It is higher in PAs than comfrey, and can be used externally in the same way as comfrey, but isn’t recommended internally. It has beautiful little flowers that are pink to purple, similar to comfrey’s flowers, and they smell like popcorn. After the plant matures, the flowers become seeds. The seeds are small, round and sticky like velcro, getting caught in animal fur or on clothes. 

Comfrey Recipes

Refreshing Comfrey Green Juice

Comfrey leaves- 2 or 3 large comfrey leaves, washed and placed in blender. 

One large can of apricot juice or one quart of bottled peaches

Blend in blender.

Add one large can of pineapple juice. Mix and enjoy with ice!

Comfrey Poultice

2 cups fresh comfrey

¼ cup water

Blend in food processor

Apply, then change poultice every 3 hours

Poultice can be frozen as ice cubes, or spread on gauze or paper towels and frozen. Use within a year. 

Comfrey Lotion

¼ cup infused comfrey oil

1 cup tallow

Heat tallow, add comfrey infused oil, let it cool in fridge for 3-5 hours until it is the consistency of gelatin. Put tallow and comfrey mixture in blender, scraping down the sides as needed. Put in a jar with a lid. 

Comfrey Seaweed Seasoning

Dried Comfrey


Dried mushroom seasoning

Sesame seeds

Onion Powder

Garlic Powder


I used equal parts dried comfrey and sea weed, then added other seasonings to taste. Blend all together in food processor. Use it on rice, fish, noodles, eggs. This is similar to a Japanese seasoning called Furikake. 


Thank you to Jeanne Davis for sharing her experiences and wisdom about using comfrey. 

Christopher, John R, School of Natural Healing Herbal Reference Guide, Christopher Publications, Utah, 2001


Getting Comfy with Comfrey by Yarrow Willard

A Deep Dive into Medicinal Comfrey- Plant Monograph by Doc Jones

Comfrey Plant Benefits and Using Roots and Leaves Safely and Comfrey Poultice by Rosalee de la Foret

Comfrey!! How We Use This Controversial Herb on the Homestead, by Homesteading with the Zimmermans


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