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Comfrey

SCIENTIFIC NAME(S): - Symphytum officinale L., S asperum Lepechin,S.tuber, Symphytum x uplandicum Nyman (Russian comfrey) is a hybrid of S. officinale and S.asperum.
Family: Boraginaceae

COMMON NAME(S): - Comfrey,russian comfrey, knitbone, bruisewort, blackwort, slippery root

Comfrey and comfrey root has been used from very ancient times, and is one of nature's greatest healers. It is a great cell proliferant, or new cell grower; can help your body to grow new flesh and bone. It is used for arthritis pain, bruises, dislocations and sprains.

History

Comfrey has been cultivated in Japan as a green vegetable and used in American herbal medicine. Its old name, knitbone, derives from the external use of poultices of the leaves and roots to heal burns, sprains, swelling, and bruises. Comfrey has been claimed to heal gastric ulcers, hemorrhoids, and to suppress bronchial congestion and inflammation.Its use has spanned over 2000 years.

Botany :- A perennial that grows to about 90 cm in moist grasslands, comfrey has lanceolate leaves and bellshaped purple or yellow-white flowers.

Uses of Comfrey

Comfrey is one of nature's greatest medicinal herbs. Used for arthritis , it soothes and heals inflamed tissues, and it helps reduce swelling and pain in a most remarkable way. Comfrey is also used as a vegetable,as topical treatment for bruises, burns and sprains, and as internal medicine.

Side Effects of Comfrey

Evidence indicates that comfrey is unsafe in any form and potentially fatal.

Dosage

Fresh, peeled root or dried root, approximately 3.5 ounces (100 grams), is simmered in 1 pint (500 ml) of water for ten to fifteen minutes to prepare comfrey for topical use. 4 Cloth or gauze is soaked in this liquid, then applied to the skin for at least 15 minutes. Fresh leaves can be ground up lightly and applied directly to the skin. Alternatively, creams or ointments made from root or leaf can be applied. All topical preparations should be applied several times per day.

Due to variations in pyrrolizidine alkaloid content, root preparations are unsafe for internal use unless they are guaranteed pyrrolizidine-free. Although comfrey root tea has been used traditionally, the danger of its pyrrolizidine alkaloids is significant. Therefore, comfrey root and young leaf preparations should not be taken internally.

Toxicology

Despite its common use, the long-term ingestion of comfrey may pose a health hazard. Several members of the family Boraginaceae contain related alkaloids reported to cause liver toxicity in animals and humans. Some of these compounds predispose hepatic tumor development.

Similarly, the alkaloids of Russian comfrey caused chronic liver damage and pancreatic islet cell tumors after 2 years of use in animal models. Eight alkaloids have been isolated from Symphytum X uplandicum. Alkaloid levels range from 0.003% to 0.115% with highest concentrations in small young leaves. An indirect estimate of alkaloid ingestion determined the consumption of toxic alkaloids to be 2 mg/700 g of flour. Based on this value, Roitman's calculation of 8 to 26 mg of toxic alkaloids per cup of comfrey root tea (4 to 13 times as great as the episode above) suggests that comfrey ingestion poses a significant health risk. Herbal teas and similar preparations of Sym­ phytum contain the pyrrolizidine alkaloid that has been shown to cause blockage of hepatic veins and lead to hepatonecrosis. Veno-occlusive disease has been reported in a woman who ingested a comfrey-pepsin preparation for 4 months; one woman died following the ingestion of large quantities of yerba mate tea. A woman who consumed large amounts of comfrey preparations developed as cites-caused venoocclusive disease, and 4 Chinese women who self-medicated with an herbal preparation that contained pyrrolizidine alkaloids from an unknown plant source also developed the disease. One man presented portal hypertension with hepatic veno-occlusive disease and later died of liver failure. It was discovered that he used comfrey in his vegetarian diet. Oral ingestion of pyrrolizidine-containing plants, such as comfrey,poses the greatest risk since the alkaloids are converted to toxic pyrrole-like derivatives following ingestion; however ,the alkaloids of comfrey applied to the skin of rats were detected in the urine, and lactating rats excrete pyrrolizidine alkaloids into breast milk. If animals consume plants containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids, they could pass these alkaloids on to humans via milk.

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