There are many health benefits of comfrey, a healing herb native to northern Europe. The plant can heal wounds and broken bones and has long been used in traditional medical systems for centuries. Several species of the genus Symphytum fall under this general name, including common comfrey, Russian comfrey, and prickly comfrey. The plant is most often used topically, but oral supplements can be found, though the FDA has warned about the potential dangers of ingesting the herb.

Warnings About Using Comfrey

Even though comfrey is a useful herb, it contains poisonous compounds called pyrrolizidine alkaloids that can harm the liver if ingested or even absorbed through the skin in unsafe quantities. Some species of comfrey have more pyrrolizidine alkaloids than others, and even if the label states the product is pure common comfrey, it may be made with other, more poisonous varieties.


bankrx / Getty Images


Heal Wounds

Comfrey can heal wounds and rashes when applied as a salve or poultice. When absorbed through the skin, especially broken skin, the vitamin C and other antioxidants it contains can speed healing. Do not use comfrey on deep wounds, however, as it can cause the skin to heal before the tissue underneath, resulting in abscesses and infections.


Madeleine_Steinbach / Getty Images


Prevent Skin Cancer

Comfrey has antioxidants and anti-cancer properties when applied to the skin. The antioxidants in comfrey will destroy free radicals caused by the sun's ultraviolet rays. These free radicals can cause skin cancer if left untreated. While studies are currently in their preliminary stages, comfrey shows great promise in this area.


Wavebreakmedia / Getty Images


Treat Back Pain

Back pain can be debilitating and interrupt daily life, even with medication. Comfrey works as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic when it comes to back pain. Applying comfrey for five days has been shown to improve lower and upper back pain. Since it is powerful, you don't have to use much to experience relief.


gilaxia / Getty Images


Heal Sprains

If you've ever sprained your ankle, knee, elbow, or wrist, you know how painful a sprain can be. Comfrey can put you on the road to recovery more quickly with its powerful healing and analgesic properties. Because it also reduces inflammation, it allows your body to heal the area faster.


Fouque / Getty Images


Decrease Arthritis Pain

If you have osteoarthritis due to aging or injuries, you might want to keep a tube of comfrey cream or oil nearby. The herb's topical pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties improve the feel and function of afflicted joints. What's more, comfrey's antioxidants can promote healing and remove free radicals that may cause further damage.


seb_ra / Getty Images


Boost Immune System

We know immune system wellness contributes to overall good health. Although comfrey is contraindicated for use orally, just using a little in a lotion or ointment is enough to boost your immune system; your body can absorb the vitamin C and antioxidants through the skin, and put them to work internally.


marilyna / Getty Images


Strengthen Bones

As we get older, our bones tend to weaken, especially if we are susceptible to osteoporosis. Comfrey is high in calcium and has been used for centuries to repair broken bones and other injuries. You can apply comfrey directly to the skin where your bones might be thinning and, once absorbed, the ointment can help strengthen the skeletal system.


Madeleine_Steinbach / Getty Images


Help Heal Bone Fractures

Broken bones and bone fractures are painful and take a long time to heal. Comfrey has been called "boneset" in the past because it can help heal fractures faster; vitamin C and calcium are both essential for bone repair. Applying comfrey as an ointment or poultice will help speed healing of broken bones.


Kerrick / Getty Images


Drug Interactions and Contraindications

If you have liver problems or take medications that affect your liver, you should not use comfrey. In fact, if you are on any medications, consult your doctor or pharmacist before trying this natural treatment, as it can still be absorbed by the skin and can interact with certain medications. Avoid applying comfrey topicals to your child's skin.


klenova / Getty Images


Popular Now on Facty Health


This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.