The Miracle of Comfrey
Can a frigging leaf heal serious injuries?
What if I told you there is a miracle drug that can heal internal injuries without surgery?
You’d probably tell me I’m full of it, and that’s a good instinct. Usually, when someone promises a miracle cure, they’re trying to sell you snake oil. It’s good to be on the guard against BS.
But what if I told you that this miracle drug costs nothing? You can easily grow it, and it may even be growing wild around you.
That “drug” is a plant called comfrey. It’s also known as bone knit or “the bone knitter” because of its reputation for healing internal injuries, even repairing broken bones.
When I first heard about it, I thought it was a load of crap. How the hell could a frigging leaf heal your body? But I’m also the sort of person who can’t resist testing wild claims.
But you know what? It works. I don’t know exactly how, but I’ve used it twice now, and the results have been amazing.
Standard disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a medical professional, just some guy who puts leaves on injuries and glues wounds back together. If you’re experiencing an actual medical emergency, please go to a doctor1. They’re good at that sort of thing.
What Is Comfrey and How to Grow It
Comfrey is a perennial shrub of the borage family. It grows all over the world, and it’s basically a weed. Most varieties are invasive, meaning if you plant it, it’s going to spread everywhere. Bocking 14 is a sterile Russian variety that will not spread. But personally, I don’t care if it spreads or not, it’s amazing.
Other than its medicinal qualities, comfrey is prized as a nitrogen-fixing dynamic accumulator and a living mulch. Grow some comfrey next to a perennial bush or tree, chop off the leaves to feed the soil, and it will grow back from the roots again and again. It’s also good rabbit fodder. It will always grow back and once established can only be removed by digging up the roots.
Propagating comfrey is easy. You dig up a plant, chop up the woody roots, and stick a bit in the ground wherever you want it to grow. You don’t even have to dig a hole. You can use a shovel or a digging pole to crack the earth, drop the root cutting in, and cover. Comfrey prefers moist areas.
Once you have some comfrey established, there’s no need to buy more. Just dig it up, chop it up, and plant it where you want it. You can buy comfrey root cuttings for cheap from Esty to get started.
Comfrey for a Muscle Tear
Earlier this year, I started having a sharp pain around my left forearm and elbow, which led to a nasty bruise that kept on for weeks. My assumption is that I tore a muscle while lifting—probably poor curl form.
After going on an herb walk with some off-grid friends, I decided to try comfrey on the bruise. I picked a leaf from one of my comfrey plants, slapped it on the bruise, and wrapped it in plastic wrap.
You can see how dark the bruise was. I left it on for a few hours. Here’s what the bruise looked like after. It had already faded significantly.
Here’s a better shot.
The bruise is clearly still there.
The next morning, April 5th, I woke up and the pain was gone. Not only that, but the bruise was also nearly gone!
Crazy, but I thought it could have been a fluke. I decided to keep this knowledge in my inner circle until I had a chance to test it again.
Comfrey for a Bad Knee
A few weeks ago I felt a sharp pain while doing hack squats. I didn’t feel it was bad enough to go to a doctor—I didn’t have any swelling—but there was some pain there, and I would often feel a sharp pain in my knee when I put weight on that foot. And I also felt an uncomfortable clicking when I bent that knee. I thought maybe I had damaged my meniscus.
I kept working out, wearing knee wraps to protect my knees. I took a week off from the gym. I walked backward on the elliptical, following the example of KneesOverToes guy for handling knee pain. Those helped, but I still had a dull ache and I was afraid it would derail my leg days or lead to surgery.
I had started wearing a knee sleeve to help support my knee. On a whim, I picked a comfrey leaf and slipped it into the sleeve. It hurt like hell. Comfrey is very rough—imagine the prickly hook side of Velcro rubbing against your skin. My knee is still a little red from the irritation.
But you know what? The pain is nearly gone and there’s no more click! I squatted the other day and had no pain. I might try another round of comfrey to see if it resolves the residual pain.
I’m definitely a believer in comfrey now.
How to Use Comfrey
Many healing chemicals have been identified in comfrey, most notably allantoin, which has been shown to help grow new skin cells. However, comfrey also has pyrrolizidine alkaloids which are believed to be toxic to the liver. For that reason, you should use comfrey sparingly and never internally.
To use comfrey, you want the leaf to be in good contact with your skin. You can simply stick a leaf where you need it and wrap it in a bandage or plastic wrap. You can also roll the leaf first to release the chemicals and dull the prickly hairs.
You can also put comfrey in oils, balms, and lotions. This is easier than it sounds: simply chop up some comfrey (a food processor would be great), and gently heat it in fat or oil. Lard makes a fantastic balm because it’s pig fat. Lard absorbs well because pig and human skin is very similar. Here’s the step-by-step process:
Dissolve some lard—enough to fill a small jar—in a pot over low heat.
Chop up several big comfrey leaves in a food processor.
After the lard liquifies, stir in your chopped comfrey.
Remove the lard from the heat so it cools to room temperature and solidifies.
Personally, I just use the leaves, but a comfrey balm could be handy for hard-to-reach places.
I know a lady who thinks she may have had a stroke but won’t go to the doctor. There are places for self-treatment and herbal remedies, but that ain’t it.