Comfrey contains livertoxic pyrrolizidines. Its use is discouraged. -Henriette.
Natural Order—Borgenecia. Linnean System: Class 5, Pentandria; Order 1st, Monogynia.
A common wild plant, but now extensively cultivated by gardeners and farmers. It may be found growing on the banks of rivers and ditches. It grows from one to three feet high in its wild state, but under cultivation may reach any height up to nine feet. The leaves are deep green, large, long and broad, and rough. The stalks are thick, angulated, upright, and winged. The flowers grow along the tops of the branches, and are white, cream or bluish-purple; they hang downwards, are bell-shaped, and contain five stamens and one pistil. The root is black on the outside and white within. It is a perennial, and flowers from May to August.
Medicinal Properties: Demulcent, Pectoral, Balsamic, and slightly Astringent.
Used in diarrhoea, dysentery, coughs, spitting of blood, chest disorders, and female debility. It has a positive influence in coughs, ulcerated lungs, kidneys, soreness of the stomach and bowels, and as a bath for sprains and swellings.
It is called "Nit-bone" in many country districts. This is probably due to the fact of its reducing the swollen parts in the immediate neighbourhood of fractures, and so enabling the fractured ends of the bones to readily come together again, and causing union to take place with greater facility. For almost every kind of inflammatory swelling, this plant should be used as a bath for fomenting purposes.
An excellent lung tonic may-be made as follows:—
Comfrey ... ½ oz.
Black Horehound ... ½ oz.
Cudweed ... ½ oz.
Ground Ivy ... ½ oz.
Elecampane ... ½ oz.
Ginger Root ... ½ oz.
Cayenne ... ½ teaspoonful
Boil in two quarts of water down to one quart. Previous to straining off the liquid, add two powdered nutmegs and simmer a short time longer. Finally, in the hot, strained liquor, dissolve 1-½-lbs. of lump sugar (cane sugar preferably). When cold, bottle for use. Dose: One or two tablespoonfuls every two or three hours.
Health from British Wild Herbs was written by Richard Lawrence Hool, N.A.M.H., in 1918.