Why and How We Use Comfrey at Our Country Home


Comfrey is a celebrity plant among homesteaders for its healing properties, its composting acceleration, its soil-building abilities, and its use as livestock fodder. We were lucky enough to find two Russian Comfrey (Symphytum.x uplandicum) plants growing next to an old compost heap on our property. We’ve since dug up those plants and transplanted a root segment at the base of each fruit tree in our orchard. This will result in a more resilient orchard, thanks to the multitude of beneficial services comfrey supplies to the soil and any neighboring plants.

As we are discovering the many uses of comfrey, we’re appreciating this plant more and more. While not an exhaustive list, what follows are some of the ways we are using comfrey at our country home.

Russian Comfrey in Orchard

Healing Herb

Comfrey is a potent herb for healing. While it should not be used internally, it can be applied topically to speed the healing of bones, cartilage, and wounds. The healing properties lie in the plants three active ingredients: allantoin (stimulates cell re-growth), rosmarinic acid (anti-inflammatory), and mucilage (soothe inflammation). In fact, comfrey can speed healing so rapidly that it should not be used on open, dirty wounds, as it can trap dirt beneath the new skin.

At our home, we dry comfrey leaves and use them to make a salve that we spread on bruises, scrapes, sprains and strains. Comfrey is also an ingredient we use in the Basic Balm recipe that we found in the Winter 2014 issue of Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series: Guide to Self-reliance and Country Skills.

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