Natural Remedy Gone Wrong
The old, traditional comfrey with a broad leaf was a great healer, and it was edible. Recently, I have tried eating a shop-bought, genetically modified comfrey, which I now have in my garden, adding a small leaf of it to a mound of silver-beet, just as I used to do in the old days. It gave me a mild stomach-ache for several days.
This new comfrey is dry, compared to the old, healing comfrey, which dripped with silica-rich mucilage when you broke off a stem. Modern comfrey has almost no silica-containing mucilage.
Shop-bought comfrey is recommended by plant shops as a companion plant to fruit trees, especially apple trees, and for this purpose, modern comfrey will still be useful, since the roots help break up clay soils, and bring up nutrients for the apple roots to feed on. Shop-bought comfrey is still not as good for this purpose as the tradional comfrey, though, because of the devitalized nature of this modern comfrey.
In the 1990’s, traditional, healing comfrey was banned in New Zealand and all over the western world where the reign of the big agri-chemical companies over agriculture was taking off. These giants began to get governments on board with this comfrey ban, and also their campaign for promoting Round-Up, which contains glyphosate, a probable cancer-causer, according to WHO. Councils all over the world have been encouraged to erradicate comfrey, and use this toxic herbicide, which, conveniently for Monsanto, works alongside their genetically modified plants and seeds without destroying them.
I heard on Radio NZ National news two weeks ago that the amount of glyphosate found in our foods has increased 500 times since 1994, which was when Monsanto’s RoundUp-Ready seeds were introduced into agriculture.
The reason comfrey was banned, our health authorities said, was that comfrey had caused cancer in pigs, due to the high allantoin content, a cell-proliferant. I wonder – did the researchers feed only comfrey to pigs over several months in order to make them sick? Or did they invent this pig cancer as a reason to rid the world of one of its most powerful healing remedies?
This allantoin, which has been removed in genetically modified comfrey, is the magic ingredient in traditional comfrey which made comfrey an excellent remedy for burns, abrasions, bruises, intestinal irritations, cancer, arthritis, asthma, or just about any complaint you could think of.
Traditional comfrey is also very high in silica, which is another great healing agent.
But modern, shop-bought comfrey was genetically modified to deliberately remove the healing allantoin, and also the high silica content, a project which I am sure the pharmaceutical companies would have supported. Nowadays, medicinal comfrey can only be bought through medical-pharmaceutical channels.
Modern, genetically modified comfrey is marketed as an improved species because it does not self-seed and spread. which the old comfrey was inclined to do. although, really, it never was a problem in my gardens.
Soil and Health did an article on this subject of this genetically modified comfrey in the early 2000’s, when suddenly we found that comfrey was available once more in the plant shops. They found that the allantoin had been removed, and that the silica content had been greatly reduced.
Banning comfrey was a very clever move, in order to gain the market for a comfrey which people were duped into believing was still a healing plant, and one which now would not spread. But modern comfrey has sadly been ruined as far as any medicinal use goes.
Banning comfrey for a few years, and getting government agencies to destroy any comfrey growing in wild places, and forbidding people to have it in their gardens, meant that the old, traditional, healing comfrey died out, leaving the market path open for whatever clever and unscrupulous agriculture corporation was responsible, to introduce their ‘better’ variety of comfrey. and make us pay for it.
I also suspect, and I really hope I am wrong, that the genetically modified comfrey has been bred to cross-pollinate with natural, traditional comfrey and dominate it, so that the new plant will be the genetically modified variety. I was sure I had traditional comfrey in my garden, but now all the plants look the same. They are a genetically modified variety.
I would advise not to eat comfrey any more, unless you are sure you have the tradional, broad-leafed, healing comfrey. I am sure that the agri-companies have stepped up an ingredient in genetically modified comfrey to make it inedible.
And as far as using shop-bought comfrey as a healing herb, I think you might just as well use grass. Although the agri-chemical companies have been tampering with this also for many years.