Comfrey The ‘Miracle’ Healing Herb/Why Was It Banned?

June 25th, 2011

Comfrey The Forgotten Herb

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Just why has Comfrey, Symphytum officinale, become a forgotten herb?  Its value as a healing medicine has been recorded over a long period of time.  It has a long arm of proven efficacy as a healer of burns, a soother of the digestive tract, a strengthener of the teeth,  a healer of broken bones, and is a great tonic for falling hair and brittle nails.  And this is why Comfrey was known as The ‘Miracle’ herb.

Comfrey is high in Silica, which is a healing component.  Another aid to healing in Comfrey is the component Allantoin, which is a cell-proliferant. A cell-proliferant encourages the cells of the body to grow again:  bone growth, skin repair, and hair and nail growth are all affected beneficially by the Allantoin in  Comfrey, as well as its abundant silica.   And Comfrey has Mucilage, a slimy material which helps healing.   This means that Comfrey, with its Allantoin and Silica, and Mucilage, and Vitamins, is truly a ‘Miracle Herb’.   Comfrey can heal just about anything.

Well – I will explain why Comfrey has become a forgotten herb:  The reason is because  Comfrey was such a valuable household remedy, it often took away the need to visit the doctor and get a prescription medicine.  Which meant that both doctor and drug company were deprived of quite a lot of money, if you consider how many people were using home remedies, such as comfrey, during the 1980’s and 1990’s.

‘Research’ into Comfrey was, I think, manipulated by the drug companies to achieve a specific result, one which would convince the public that Comfrey should indeed be banned.

The article which I read in New Zealand, which was published just before comfrey was banned pretty much all over the western world,  said that ‘Studies had shown that there was a relationship between Comfrey and Cancer”, because PIGS which had been fed Comfrey for three months had developed cancer.  The article did not say just how many pigs had developed cancer, and nor did it tell us what other food, if any, the pigs were fed.  I suspect that the pigs were given naught else to eat except Comfrey.

Natural Health

And the result of this mind-boggling manipulation of facts and figures has resulted in the drug companies gaining complete control over the healing substances in Comfrey, the main one being Allantoin.

It is illegal in New Zealand to grow Comfrey in your garden.  You cannot buy fresh Comfrey anywhere, and I think that even the herbal comfrey pills have been taken off the market.

Making it illegal to have Comfrey in your garden, because ‘research’ has shown Comfrey may cause cancer, is just ridiculous.  The only people to benefit from this ruling is the drug companies who use comfrey components in medicines and cosmetics, and who will now have increased sales of other prescription medicines because we, the public, do not have access to Comfrey.

Comfrey can be used internally and externally. It can be taken internally as a tea.  Comfrey can be used externally on skin and bones. Comfrey aids the healing of burns.  Comfrey poultices would have been useful for people who had suffered radiation burns at Fukushima.  Comfrey was often known as ‘Knit-bone’, because of its ability to mend broken bones very quickly.  It is good for all kinds of skin troubles such as eczema and psoriasis, and ulcers on the legs.   Comfrey is good for the digestion and intestines, and has been used in cases of  Ulcers, Colitis, and Irritable bowel syndrome.  Comfrey has been used to treat people with cancer, in combination with other remedies.

Comfrey needs to be brought back into household herbal medicine.  This will benefit people, rather than harm them.  Of course Comfrey could be problematic if you were to have too much of it.  But you can die if you eat too many carrots, too, and whoever would want to do that?

Comfrey never caused cancer in people, because we never had a steady diet of it for three months, as the pigs did.  Comfrey has been banned for well over a decade now, but cancer is on the increase.  Cancer statistics really have nothing to do with Comfrey.

Postscript 2 April 2013 – Well, someone commented a few months ago that they had seen comfrey for sale in NZ this season.  Then, just a couple of weeks ago, I spotted two lone little comfrey plants in our local plant store.  I bought one, and a friend bought the other. I don’t know what is happening here – have our laws prohibiting the growing of comfrey been relaxed?  Or have people simply forgotten that it was put on the ‘banned’ list?  Either way, it is a good thing that comfrey is about again.

24 Responses to “Comfrey The ‘Miracle’ Healing Herb/Why Was It Banned?”

  1. susie says:

    I have had RA for along time which has been particuarly bad in left wrist so I soaked it in comfrey which I had boiled in a pan with water. After a few days of doing this I can now bend it for the first time in years. The pain has been reduced also. I shall continue this.

  2. Merrilyn says:

    Hi Susie,
    Your story about Comfrey helping your sore wrist is a great one. Thankyou for this affirmation of the healing attributes of comfrey. It surely is a miracle herb, and it is no wonder that it was often called ‘knit-bone’ because of its ability to heal bones.
    Kind Regards,
    Merrilyn

  3. gill allardice says:

    Any ideas on getting comfrey off the illegal list My mum used to give me comfry and marmite sandwiches for my asthma and yes I was very healthy and grew out of it,so with my Husband and I suffering from whooping cough and its after effects I feel the need for comfry, I really would appreciate how to go about legalising this plant I mean its never been known for hallucogenic properties such as cannabis .
    regards Gill

  4. blaise says:

    I really dont know about comfrey being illegal to grow and plant in NZ (are you not thinking about another medicinal herb that has been in the news recently LOL).
    Comfrey has been for sale in garden centres for ages in all the towns i have lived in in NZ. I first grew it over 20 yrs ago in Hawkes Bay and have recently purchased some more plants to plant around my compost bins at my new place in Wanganui.

  5. Merrilyn says:

    Good to hear. Because Comfrey was banned in NZ and Australia – and in America too, who were first responsible for taking comfrey out of common usage. Good news to hear you managed to buy some.

  6. Jill A says:

    Hi, can you provide any evidence of comfrey being banned in NZ? I understand the sale of comfrey products for ingestion has been banned in the US, but what law says one cannot grow it in a garden in NZ? It is widely available from many reputable plant sellers.

  7. Merrilyn says:

    Hi Jill,
    No – I have not kept the newspaper articles regarding the ban on comfrey. This happened years ago. I have no idea what the current status of comfrey is in New Zealand. I recently bought a plant from a nursery, which pleased me very much.
    But comfrey has not been available for many years in New Zealand, and only herbalists have been allowed to grow it. The reason for it being banned sometime in the 1990’s was that it was supposed to be a carcenogen. This had been decided by scientists who said that it caused cancer in pigs, and therefore it should be banned. I always suspected that, if indeed the pigs did get cancer from eating comfrey, that they had been fed huge quantities of it, with little other food.
    I do hope that it continues to be readily available as a garden plant, as it is such a valuable healing herb.
    Thanks so much for your comment.
    Kind Regards,
    Merrilyn.

  8. wolf says:

    Hi.Merrilyn.where and when is best time to find fresh comfrey in NZ.I am not kiwi and having some broken rips.thanks Wolf

  9. Ella says:

    I think you should do your research a little more before you go around telling people that something is safe, which people who actually know a vast deal more about both chemistry and the human body have advised against it. The alkaloid in comfrey which has been found to be carcinogenic is called a pyrrolizidine alkaloid. This is not the same as the ingredient which makes comfrey effective when applied to the skin. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are hepatotoxic (very bad for your liver) and also carcinogenic. This issue is not with applying comfrey to your skin, but ingesting it. Whilst there is a small amount of pyrrolizidine alkaloid in comfrey, the issue is that the actual amount you ingest in herbal medicines/ tea that you make yourself is not regulated, and if someone decides to drink comfrey tea twice a day every day, it could well lead to cancer and sever liver failure.

    Also, it is just nonsense about drug companies. If you’re that desperate to get allantoin of unknown concentration and purity, just use your own urine, it is found in the urine of most animals.

  10. Merrilyn says:

    You just cannot count on ‘research’. Sometimes you just have to use your common sense.

    ‘Research’ in NZ told us that 245T, which has the same harmful ingredient as ‘Agent Orange’and which was used as a defoliant in the Viet-Nam war, was not harmful, so that farmers in NZ could carry on using it, and the chemical companies continue to make it here, even though its harmful effects were well known, and, after the Viet-Nam war, it was banned in many countries overseas.

    Everyone knows now that Dieldrin, found in 245T and ‘Agent Orange’, causes birth defects, cancer, and many other diseases. It is banned now, but many of us knew this stuff was dangerous before it was banned. We used our common sense and avoided the stuff, so long as we weren’t sprayed by local farmers who used it without warning to the detriment of our health.

    Research has told us for the past ten years or more that non-fat milk is better for you than normal milk. So commercial interests have benefitted from this misconception, with many people using this watered down kind of milk with the idea that it will lower your cholesterol, or make you less fat. But now – The latest ‘research’ is telling us that milk with the fat left in it is not harmful after all. Same with butter. Margerine is NOT necessarily better for you than eating butter.

    We used our common sense and never stopped eating butter, no matter what the authorities said. I knew it was good for me and my family. Now ‘research’ has suddenly decided the same.

    You can die from eating too many carrots, if you have enough of them. There are poisons in carrots which can kill you. Same with potatoes. I am sure you could die from eating comfrey too, if that was all you ate.

    People sometimes die or get sick from taking ‘proven’ pharmaceutical drugs – This is known as ‘Iatrogenic’ illness – doctor-caused, or drug-caused illness. The drug companies get away with selling off potentially harmful substances all the time, for example: Fosamax is one very dubious product which can cause necrosis of the jaw, as well as a myriad of other complaints. Yet it is still dished out readily by doctors and chemists all over the world for people with bone complaints.

    I would say that comfrey tea, one cupful taken on a daily basis, might do you more good than, say, taking fosamax, or warfarin (same ingredients as rat poison), on a regular basis.

  11. Elaine Richards says:

    I am having a bilateral hip replacement & would like to purchase comfrey tablets, having used them to mend a spiral fractured leg 30 tears ago
    Can they be purchased in the UK? It seems they are banned in USA Australia & NZ. Is there anywhere that makes them at all?

  12. Merrilyn says:

    Hi Elaine,
    A pity that comfrey tablets are unavailable in many places in the world. I don’t know about the UK. If you can’t obtain them, it might be best to go for the fresh comfrey herb if you can get a plant.
    Comfrey plants were not on the market here in NZ for many years. But over the past year I have seen them in some plant shops again.
    A herbalist might be able to provide you with some fresh leaves, if not a plant. Here in NZ, herbalists were allowed to keep growing their comfrey – perhaps it is the same in the UK.
    I would make a tea of the comfrey herb and take one cup per day. Perhaps just two tablespoons of the fresh chopped herb to a pint of water. That would be a very moderate dose.

    If you can’t get comfrey, try some nettle tea.
    This, like comfrey, is very high in silica, which helps healing and aids in the building of stong bones, hair and teeth.

  13. Alex Tomas says:

    That Ella person above is either an idiot or paid shill by pharma. Anytime FDA bans something, I run to it. They have fought things such as DMSO (also MSM…in another form) and in this case Comfrey and both are incredibly good for ailments and health. I was told that ingesting DMSO could kill you etc. For over a year, I’ve been taking two teaspoons daily (sometimes with powder MSM) with spring water that I store in glass. My skin is vibrant and I feel that my mind is more focused now. I plan to add comfrey to my daily diet as well. As for the idiots that listen to the FDA, guess what they’ve given the nod to so many carcinogen additives in your foods, yet you still trust them. They even turned the other way to nano additives in food which are said to be highly carcinogenic. If you believe those criminals, then you probably vote and feel that your candidates are actually caring for your needs. LOL. I’ll stick to looking back at what naturalists did in the good old days before the criminals took over media and hired shills like “Ella” above.

  14. dr shontel says:

    Merrilyn I have prescribed comfrey for many patients for a myriad of problems over the years..from the ulcers of
    diabetes to broken bones, arthritis, ulcers, even as an aid to the difficulties of menopause. The list is long
    Generally in my experience ‘fresh is best
    However, the dried herb, capsules & extracts are fine also.
    Dr Christophers Herbs make some excellent comfrey based ointments & formulas & are available on Amazon.com And possibly in your area if one does a search via google.com
    . In the 19th & 20th centuries..& I’m sure prior to that, comfrey was the Echinacea of the time..ie the herb that families turned to for all manner of ills & ailments. The barns of the farms from the east coast to the west coast of america were decorated with curtains of comfrey hanging drying from the rafters for the coming winters…& its associated colds & flus. Comfrey will relieve the ‘aching bones’ of colds & flus better than any other herb.
    It is a herb that is well deserving of its title “Heal-All”

  15. Dee says:

    Hi, I’ve just found your site, I’m in UK and would like to make a point also to Ella. At age 17 I was admitted to hospital with ulcerative colitis, spent 8 weeks there, lost blood, weight down to 7st. (Was normally around 9+st) Treated with cortisone, Prednisone, enimas and pink granules that became jelly in water, had to swallow it. Upon being released I ate soft foods for some time. I also took a fair amount of comfrey tablets. Nothing else. It’s said that once you have colitis you have it for life. I got much better. I have not had ANY recurrences. I am now 70 yrs old! Point made I think

  16. Merrilyn says:

    Thanks Dee. That is a great testimony to the healing powers of comfrey. It is listed in many herbals as an aid to curing colitis, irritable bowel and other complaints of the digestive system. I think it is a wonderful herb, and I thank you again for sharing your story.
    Best Wishes,
    Merrilyn

  17. Ingrid Raath says:

    I have many comfrey plants, and it is so easy to grow! My tutor at organics class gives it away. If you’re close / in Tauranga, send me a message.. emaili ingma7@xtra..

  18. Merrilyn says:

    Thankyou, Ingrid. Very nice of you to offer plants to people in the area. I, too, have comfrey plants growing happily – they are wonderful for planting around fruit trees, as they bring up nourishment for the trees to use. I have managed to procure the older type Comfrey which is rich in silica, mucilage and allantoin for healing.
    Thanks again,
    Merrilyn

  19. Michelle says:

    I have found some Comfrey growing wild on my bank amongst the long grass having just moved into the house. I was able to identify it on Google – hence very happy to learn about this new ‘old’ herb. im going to begin with making tea and feed my vegies with it.
    thank you for sharing your knowledge to us learner gardeners.

  20. Merrilyn says:

    Hi Michelle,
    Warning – Do get the plant checked by a nursery – just in case it happens to be foxglove, which is extremely poisonous. The leaves are a little similar.
    And do not overdo the comfrey tea: A weak brew of just a tablespoon of fresh leaves taken once or twice a week should be safe. Best to use the tea instead, as a hair rinse – that way, you will absorb the silica and other nutrients each time you wash your hair. Again, I would make the tea fairly weak.
    Different plants contain differing amounts of nutrients. The allantoin content will differ from plant to plant, and from location to location. Modern hybrids are said to contain no allantoin at all, and less of silica.
    So do not overdo the use of the real heritage variety. I promote its use for many illnesses and complaints, but still advise people to be cautious and sensible about using it. I use comfrey tea these days only as a wound healter, a hair rinse and as a treatment for some chest infections, in combination with Vitamin C and other herbs.

  21. RKJ says:

    It still amazes me that people even ask the question, “why was such-and-such a herb banned?”.

    Drug company profits are the answer!

    Drug companies don’t give a damn about humanity, only ways to increase their profits every years and god help anyone who points out simple, nature and far more potent cures than anything that comes out of their seedy labs! (they usually end up dead).

    So why are powerful and effective herbs banned? Drug companies paying off politicians to make sure their profits stay healthy, in short.

    They also feed doctors a lot of horse dung about herbs, so doctors – like the obedient little drug pushers they’ve become – can parrot falsehoods and misinformation to their local communities (not even aware that’s what they’re doing but the majority of them have stopped thinking for themselves).

    When you hear ‘warnings’ about this and that herb that’s traditionally been a powerful healing tool, suddenly being demonized as ‘toxic’, stop and think about who’s REALLY behind feeding those false ‘warnings’ to the public – and why.

    The trail always leads to drug companies and their paid political puppets.

  22. Merrilyn says:

    Great letter – thankyou for sending that to us.
    I totally agree. Drug company profits are behind herbs being banned, behind homeopathy being demonized as a medicine, and the use of Vitamin C therapy being prohibited in hospitals
    Unfortunately,many people do not realize the impact of pharmaceutical and agriculture monopolies on our society and our so-called free market. They believe that our governments would not allow harmful poisons such as glyphosate, in RoundUp, if it was harmful. Many also believe that if intravenous Vitamin C could cure cancer and other diseases, then the hospitals would be using it. How wrong they are.
    So it is good to be educating people about this issue of drug company dominance of the health industry, and agro-chemical companies monopolizing world agriculture. Thanks again for your letter.
    Kind Regards,
    Merrilyn

  23. Adrian says:

    According to some sites, it is illegal to sell formulations made from comfrey, but not to sell the plants.

    However, in NZ it is illegal to have a GARDEN and apparently has been for a few years now. I did have a document in my possession which had originated from a Maori collective, which contested the proposition before it became law. But don’t worry (yet), the new law is aimed at market gardeners who avoid paying tax on their produce.

    However, if there is any truth to it being illegal to grow comfrey in NZ, then why worry. You are apparently breaking the law just by having a garden!

    Not much point in growing comfrey for medicinal use if you are going to use a cultivated variety.Thx for the post on that.

    Just don’t tell anyone you are growing your own food, cause you are subverting the government by helping yourself to all the free food you are feeding yourself with!

  24. alec says:

    Just wondering about traditional varieties of comfrey. I have seen one with a white and lilac flower but there is apparently an English variety with a more pale yellow / white flower?

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