My comfrey plants are powering away in the garden, so it’s time to divide the comfrey into several new cuttings and make a few products. Comfrey is propagated from root cuttings, crown divisions, and transplants. On a waning moon, push a shovel vertically down next to the comfrey, then wiggle it under the plant. Put a bit of energy into pushing/pulling it out with as many roots as possible. Once you have the comfrey out of the ground, break off the roots into approximately 15cm pieces. Don’t waste the leaves. I cut all the leaves off the plant and separated some for my natural fertilizer, some for green mulch and some for a comfrey tincture. Re-plant the comfrey root and save some to make a wound healing tincture.
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) originally came from Europe and Asia. It has been cultivated since about 400 BC as a healing herb.
In the Middle Ages, it was popularly called ‘knit bone’, a well-known remedy for broken bones.
The root was boiled in water until it produced a thick paste in which cloth was soaked and then wrapped around broken bones. Comfrey leaves speed up wound healing and encourage proper scar formation. However, due to its speedy wound healing properties care should be taken with very deep open wounds as it can cause tissue to form over the wound before it has healed deeper down, which can lead to abscess and infection.
Comfrey leaf has been eaten in the past, yet today people are more cautious about taking comfrey leaf internally as it contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids (compounds known to cause liver disease if taken over a long period of time). I only ever use comfrey externally. The following comfrey tincture is for external use only.
DIY Comfrey Tincture
This tincture is the first stage to making a healing balm. Once you have this first part completed you can them move onto the healing balm.
- Sterilized jar with airtight lid
- Comfrey leaves and roots (enough to fill your jar 2/3)
- 100 % proof vodka or brandy (40-50% alcohol content)
- Wash leaves and roots to remove all soil.
- Pat dry with a clean cloth.
- Cut roughly into chunks.
- Put the chunks into the jar and fill with your chosen alcohol. Tightly close the lid.
- Label the jar with the name, chosen alcohol and date when it is ready to decant.
- Allow the mixture to sit for 4-6 weeks, shaking it every 3 days. Keep it away from direct sunlight and in a cool place.
- Six weeks later decant the tincture. Sieve the solids out of the liquid by using a cheesecloth and sieve. Throw the solids into your compost bin.
You now have a tincture! Pour the tincture into a dark bottle and store it in a cool place out of the sunlight. This can be stored for up to a year. Now you are ready to make the comfrey healing balm. Read about other healing herbs here.