Comfrey is an incredibly useful plant. In this article, we will share its wonderful pain-relieving benefits. Moreover, the plant is useful in the garden and food forest. Comfrey makes an excellent ingredient in relieving pain caused by arthritis and inflammation in the joints.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (also known as RA) begins when your immune system attacks and lines the thin layer of tissue that is located near your joints. Usually, joints are affected the worst, but in some cases, it can also spread to other bodily organs and systems. RA causes pain, fatigue, joint stiffness, swelling, warmth, and inflammation near the joints. Since this disease affects nearly 1.5 million people in the United States, it is important to not just understand the root causes of RA, but also what natural remedies are available to help manage or even eliminate the symptoms of RA. While conventional medicine has a time and a place, RA and the pain associated with it can be effectively managed in a number of ways through supplements, diet, and lifestyle.
The recipe below shows how to use comfrey and the step-by-step process to use this tried-and-true herbal remedy. Another option is my Joint & Movement Salve which contains a soothing, anti-inflammatory blend for unpleasant joint conditions, including carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, OA, RA, and knee pain.
Comfrey – Short History
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) has been used in traditional medicine for at least 2000 years. Interestingly, a common name for comfrey is knitbone. This relates to its healing ability. Interestingly, the second part of a plant’s name can sometimes be revealing as to its uses. For herbalists, when a plant has ‘officinale’ as its second name, as with comfrey, it is rather special. This relates to the herb being revered for its medicinal properties during medieval times.
On the other hand, often the second word is a plant’s origin, such as chinensis, which means, ‘from China’. At other times, it may relate to the person or people who discovered the plant, such as douglasii, which relates to an early explorer and botanist, David Douglas.
Comfrey originated in Europe, Africa, and Asia. It has naturalized throughout North America. It has demonstrated its anti-inflammatory and analgesic abilities throughout many clinical studies. Of the many properties found in comfrey, Allantoin and rosmarinic acid are the two most important compounds.
Comfrey – Benefits:
It is important to note, comfrey is for external use. Comfrey contains some compounds that are known to be harmful to the liver and may also be carcinogenic. For this reason, comfrey is banned for oral use in many countries.
In traditional medicine through to current topical medication formulas, comfrey is used to heal injuries such as sprains, strains, bruises, and burns. Not only that but there is important evidence to suggest comfrey helps to relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis, joint pain, and gout.
Comfrey is a perennial herb or shrub. It is a clump-forming plant with long slender oval leaves which are covered in fine, stiff hairs. The plants bloom in late spring through early summer. The black-skinned roots are reputed to have the highest quantities of medicinal compounds. The plant spreads easily. A small one-inch piece of root is enough to propagate more comfrey plants.
Comfrey leaves may be harvested throughout the growing season. Comfrey roots are deep and may be collected when dividing plants. The leaves are known as a great mulch or compost component as well. In addition, comfrey and comfrey products are often available from health food stores and online.
Our method for making this comfrey salve for arthritis and joint pain is made by first creating an oil infusion from fresh comfrey leaves. Once the oil infusion is complete, the second stage of the recipe is to create the salve by melting in some high-quality beeswax from a local honey farm.
- Freshly harvested large comfrey leaves.
- Carrier oil.
Step 1: Gather and prepare comfrey leaves.
Step 2: If desired, remove stems and core.
Step 3: Finely chop the crisp leaves.
Step 4: Place chopped leaves in a clean glass jar. Cover in a carrier oil of your choice. In this recipe, I am using 75% olive oil with 25% sunflower oil.
Step 5: Allow the mixture to steep for 2 to 4 days, mixing or stirring daily.
*Recipe note: Comfrey leaves may be dried. In this way, they can be infused in oil for a longer period of time. This will achieve a more shelf-stable oil infusion. Using the fresh leaves creates a fresh herbal oil that is aromatic but not as shelf-stable as when using dried comfrey.
Step 6: When the comfrey infused oil is ready, prepare some beeswax. You may choose to purchase grated beeswax. Alternatively, you may grate it yourself. Beeswax itself has excellent skin-healing properties. Making a salve with natural beeswax will help stabilize the oil infusion and keep it in place on the skin.
Step 7: Strain the comfrey-infused oil.
Step 8: To ensure a smooth consistency, as well as ensuring all the comfrey “hairs” are removed, secondary filtering through a coffee filter may be appreciated.
Step 9: Combine oil with beeswax at a ratio of 1 part beeswax to 3 to 5 parts comfrey-infused oil. Place in a warm spot until the beeswax is fully melted but not steaming or boiling. A low-temperature stovetop in a double broiler works well. A slightly warm oven or on top of a wood stove may also work. I combine the ingredients in the final container to eliminate waste and it saves on cleanup too!
Step 10: Allow the salve to harden at room temperature. This salve has a lovely refreshing spring-like aroma and a silky-smooth texture.
Using Comfrey Salve for Arthritis and Joint Pain.
This powerful salve can be used on areas of the body affected by arthritis, gout, and osteoarthritis. It is best used on clean, unbroken skin. Similarly, comfrey salve can be massaged into joints that are aching. Impressively, it is helpful in promoting healing and relieving pain even after joint replacement surgeries.
Use about a teaspoon of salve and massage into affected areas. It is best to use comfrey salve for short periods to relieve pain; up to 7 days, may be recommended. Try to alternate pain-relieving salves in between using comfrey salve, such as salves made with mint or cinnamon and clove.
As mentioned above, comfrey is for external use only. Do not take comfrey internally as it contains compounds that are notably damaging to the liver and may also be carcinogenic.
A powerful medicinal herb, comfrey may interact with certain medications. It may also be contraindicated with some health conditions, as well as pregnancy and breastfeeding. Always contact your healthcare providers when commencing any new medical therapy including herbal and plant-based medicines.
Comfrey is an incredibly useful plant to have in the landscape. It has a long history in traditional medicine throughout the world. This is due to its powerful healing compounds. Making this comfrey salve for arthritis and joint pain is one way to harness this valuable herb. Moreover, it allows us to manage pain naturally with plants that may be growing all around us.
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