Symphytum officinale is a perennial flowering plant of the genus Symphytum in the family Boraginaceae. Along with thirty four other species of Symphytum, it is known as comfrey. It is native to Europe and it is known elsewhere, including North America, as an introduced species and sometimes a weed. The flowers are mostly visited by bumblebees
Symphytum officinale roots have been used in the traditional Balkan medicine internally (as tea or tincture) or externally (as ointment, compresses,or alcoholic digestion) for treatment of disorders of the locomotor system and gastrointestinal tract. The leaves and stems have also been used for the treatment of the same disorders, and additionally also for treatment of rheumatism and gout.
Comfrey has been used in folk medicine as a poultice for treating burns and wounds. However, internal consumption, such as in the form of herbal tea, is discouraged, as it has been highly debated about whether it can cause serious liver damage
Symphytum Officinale is used as a tea for upset stomach, ulcers, heavy menstrual periods, diarrhea, bloody urine, persistent cough, painful breathing (pleuritis), bronchitis, cancer, and chest pain (angina). It is also used as a gargle for gum disease and sore throat.
Symphytum Officinale is applied to the skin for ulcers, wounds, joint inflammation, bruises, rheumatoid arthritis, swollen veins (phlebitis), gout, and fractures.
- Symphytum Officinale is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when applied to unbroken skin in small amounts for less than 10 days. It’s important to remember that the poisonous chemicals in comfrey can pass through the skin. Absorption of these chemicals increases if the skin is broken or if large amounts are applied.
- Symphytum Officinale is LIKELY UNSAFE for anyone when taken by mouth. It contains chemicals (pyrrolizidine alkaloids, PAs) that can cause liver damage, lung damage, and cancer. The FDA has recommended removal of oral comfrey products from the market.
- Medications that can harm the liver (Hepatotoxic drugs) interacts with Symphytum Officinale
Comfrey might harm the liver. Taking comfrey along with medication that might also harm the liver can increase the risk of liver damage. Do not take comfrey if you are taking a medication that can harm the liver.
Some medications that can harm the liver include acetaminophen (Tylenol and others), amiodarone (Cordarone), carbamazepine (Tegretol), isoniazid (INH), methotrexate (Rheumatrex), methyldopa (Aldomet), fluconazole (Diflucan), itraconazole (Sporanox), erythromycin (Erythrocin, Ilosone, others), phenytoin (Dilantin), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin (Zocor), and many others.
- Medications that increase the breakdown of other medications by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) inducers) interacts with Symphytum Officinale
Comfrey is broken down by the liver. Some chemicals that form when the liver breaks down comfrey can be harmful. Medications that cause the liver to break down comfrey might enhance the toxic effects of chemicals contained in comfrey.
Some of these medicines include carbamazepine (Tegretol), phenobarbital, phenytoin (Dilantin), rifampin, rifabutin (Mycobutin), and others.
Ass Ear, Black Root, Blackwort, Bruisewort, Common Comfrey, Consolidae Radix, Consound, Consoude, Consoude Officinale, Consuelda, Comfrey, Grande Consoude, Gum Plant, Healing Herb, Herbe aux Charpentiers, Herbe à la Coupure, Knitback, Knitbone, Langue-de-Vache, Oreille d’Âne, Salsify, Slippery Root, Wallwort