I discovered comfrey when I was looking for something to help my mom control the pain caused by osteoarthritis. In my research I found a few studies done by the University of Pittsburgh on the use of comfrey to treat arthritis. They sounded promising so I bought comfrey salve for her to try.
Comfrey is an anti-inflammatory herb that has traditionally been used to help heal bruises, sprains and torn ligaments and tendons. Unlike painkillers, comfrey treats the problem not just the symptoms.
Using comfrey salve has helped my mom find relief from her osteoarthritis and, after talking to my doctor, I used it to treat patellar tendonitis (runner’s knee) instead of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that were originally prescribed.
“All-natural” doesn’t mean it’s safe for everyone. You should always talk to your doctor before trying any new treatment, especially if you are on other medications. Additionally, your doctor will be able give you guidelines on how often and how long you should use comfrey as a treatment.
The FDA has made it illegal to sell comfrey for ingestion because it can cause liver damage. Although you may see articles that recommend drinking comfrey tea, be cautious. Also avoid putting comfrey on open wounds as it will get in the bloodstream quickly, making it more likely to affect the liver.
Comfrey ointment can usually be purchased in pharmacies. Since most stores don’t keep it in stock you may have to ask the pharmacist to order it for you (Target pharmacists will do this). I would also recommend looking in natural remedies section of health food stores where it may also be sold as a Gardner’s salve since it the relieves the achy, swollen joints many people get after a long day in the garden.
I choose to make comfrey salve because all the commercially available salve is olive oil based and my mom wanted something less greasy. It’s also much less expensive to make it than it is to buy it.
To make the salve I use grapeseed oil because it is light and absorbs into the skin quickly.
Comfrey is the main active ingredient since it’s an anti-inflammatory and healer. Comfrey is difficult to buy because it is illegal to ingest, so you must purchase it as a medicinal herb at a local farmers market or you can find it online at Amazon or Mountain Rose Herbs.
The second anti-inflammtory herb is calendula, a variety of marigold that is often sold as tea so you may be able to find it at a specialty tea shop. Pittsburghers can go to Prestogeorge in the Strip District and they have a great selection online for anyone else interested in shopping there. You can also purchase calendula flowers on Amazon.
The third medicinal ingredient is a warming herb to stimulate blood flow to the area. I use either dried ginger root, which can also be purchased at specialty tea shops, or fresh, chopped rosemary. When I use ginger root I add sweet orange essential oil to compliment the fragrant calendula. Rosemary completely masks the calendula so there is no need to add another fragrance.
To make the salve, the grapeseed oil is infused with the herbs. If you use dried herbs you should used 1 ounce of dried herbs per cup of oil. For fresh herbs, double that amount. When using fresh ingredients clean everything as if you were going to eat it because you don’t want bacteria from the plant spoiling the salve.
By July 31, 2012Published:
Comfrey is an anti-inflammatory herb that can be used to treat osteoarthritis and patellar tendonitis (runner's knee). You can make the recipe below exactly as it is for a sweet citrus scent or substitute the ginger root for .2 ounces of fresh, chopped rosemary and skip the essential oil for a more herbaceous aroma.
Measurements below are in ounces because the nature of some of the ingredients makes it difficult to accurately measure by volume. Approximate volume measurements are included for those without a kitchen scale.