How To Grow Comfrey and Use It Safely // A Must in Everyone’s Garden

ELASTIC

Growing comfrey in your garden can offer a wide variety of uses and benefits and it’s an herb that I think everyone needs to have growing in their garden. This herb is not only medicinal and will add so much to your herbal remedy tool belt, but it’s also a very attractive plant.

What is Comfrey?

Comfrey is a perennial herb (that comes back every year). The genus name for comfrey is Symphytum, and means to “heal together”.  It is well known to assist healing in any part of the body that is torn or broken. Otherwise known as knitbone or slippery root, comfrey plants have been used medicinally since 400 B.C. to stop heavy bleeding and to treat bronchial issues.

 

COMFREY IN GARDEN

Growing Comfrey Plants

Growing this herb is super easy. Propagation can be done with seed, division, or separation. Sow comfrey seeds in fall or early spring directly in the garden or in a cold frame and pot seedlings to be over-wintered inside.

Division of comfrey herb plants may occur at any time, however, spring is suggested. Divide by cutting off 3 inches (8 cm.) of root below the soil level and then plant directly into a pot or another area of the garden.

Propagating Comfrey

I find the easiest way is to find a start. You may need to get a start from someone who already has it growing, as I have not seen it in any nurseries or garden centers.

All you need is a piece of the root and you’re good to go. As comfrey can be an aggressive spreader, you may want to plant within a physical barrier and deadhead flowers to rein in its spreading habit. MAKE SURE WHEN YOU PLANT THIS HERB, THAT YOU PLANT IT SOMEWHERE THAT YOU’LL WANT IT TO REMAIN. Because the roots go down so far, if you ever want to move it, most likely after you dig it up, it will come back.

We made a BIG mistake once in our garden and rototilled a few plants up and we had bits of the root all over and then we had comfrey everywhere. We finally got it under control and have this herb growing where we want it. I find it doesn’t spread if the root it left alone. In fact, I find that weeds do not grow around it either. (Very interesting).

This herb requires very little maintenance once established. It is generally frost and drought-hardy and primarily disease and pest-resistant.

We have grown this herb in our garden for years and use it frequently.

Comfrey Benefits and Uses

As mentioned above, the comfrey herb plant has a long history of medicinal use. Useful not only for staunching blood flow and arresting some bronchial ailments, but comfrey has also been used to heal broken bones. Comfrey tea is often ingested for internal illness and poultices are applied to external ailments. Comfrey contains high amounts of allantioin (also found in nursing mother’s milk) and is said to increase the rate of cell growth, which in turn increases the number of white blood cells. The application of allantoin has been shown to heal wounds and burns more quickly and promotes healthy skin with high mucilage content. I have personally seen it heal chemical burns, and sunburns, and assist rapid healing in deep wounds with no scaring.

COMFREY PESTAL

A Personal Experience with Comfrey

When my son was in his teens he hit his face pretty hard on a rail while skiing and his lip was pretty messed up (not the first time this has happened), he asked if we had any comfrey to put on it. Even my kids know the many benefits of this plant.

Typically, we would just go out and pick a leaf from the garden, but at the time the comfrey plants were under 2 feet of snow. Luckily I had some already blended up in the freezer.

In the fall I took a bunch of comfrey leaves and washed them and blended them up to make a thick paste. I then spooned it out into ice cube trays and froze it. Then I just popped them out into zip bags and put it in the freezer for times just like this. Then all we have to do is take a cube out, thaw it and apply where needed.

My son just took a blob of green goop and placed it all over his top lip, and sat there while he did his homework. He did this a few times and by the third day, you could hardly tell he even had an injury.

I could go on and on about this amazing plant and give you several more personal experiences on how it has helped us.

COMFREY POULTICE

In a nutshell, comfrey leaves and roots are used externally as a poultice or ointment for:

  • bruises
  • broken bones
  • wounds
  • pulled muscles and ligaments
  • reducing inflammation
  • sprains
  • sunburn
  • burns

I use comfrey to make a wonderful healing salve, which is very easy to make. You can find the tutorial and recipe for the salve HERE.

Having this herb growing where you have easy access to it is a good step in being a little more self-reliant. I feel much more at peace with my comfrey plant just outside my door!

LEARN MORE ABOUT OTHER HERBAL REMEDIES HERE IN MY ALTERNATIVE REMEDIES BOOKLET

Benefits of Comfrey in the Garden

Comfrey is not only good for our bodies, comfrey can be helpful to our garden soil and other plants as well. Comfrey can be made into a “compost tea” which is beneficial for fertilizing your garden. Some of your livestock will happily munch away on this plant, particularly chickens and pigs as well.

This herb is an excellent mulch and fertilizer. It is well balanced with a good combination of potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus. When you use comfrey as mulch, it will mine those nutrients from deep under the soil, and then return them to the soil where other plants can access them.

It is very easy to mulch with comfrey. Simply chop it down, and if possible, chop it into smaller pieces. Lay the pieces around the plants you want to mulch and the comfrey will quickly decompose, allowing the nutrients to go back into the soil.

How to Make Comfrey Tea Fertilizer

If you don’t want to use comfrey as a mulch, you can make comfrey tea to use as a FERTILIZER FOR YOUR PLANTS, NOT FOR YOU. Do not ingest this tea, rather, it is a liquid plant feed.

  1. Place your plant matter – the leaves, stems, etc – into a container and cover it with water. Put a lid on it to contain the odor. You’ll want to let this mixture brew for four to six weeks.
  2. To use it, mix it with 1/3 ‘tea’ and 2/3 water and use it as you would any other liquid fertilizer when you water your plants.

Spring is here and this is a great time to get your hands in the dirt. So be thinking of a place in your garden where you can plant this baby. If you live in Utah, I would love for you to stop by and I can give you a start. Just send me a note if you are interested.

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Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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How To Make Healing Salve

healing salve youmakeitsimple.com

You don’t have to be a serious herbalist or witch doctor to make your own healing salve.  It is really very easy to whip up and you won’t ever go back to Neosporin or whatever else you are using for

  • cuts
  • scrapes
  • bug bites
  • diaper rash
  • lip balm
  • dry skin

My family uses this a ton!

healing salve youmakeitsimple.com

We recently ran out of our stock of salve, and it’s not like you can just run to the store and grab some, so I got out my supplies and whipped up a batch.  I thought I would take a few photos while in the process and share how to make it with you.

SUPPLIES that you will need:

  • ovenproof pan for infusing oil
healing salve youmakeitsimple.com
  • cheesecloth
  • double boiler or two saucepans for melting wax
  • sterile containers (glass baby food jars, empty recycled hair product or face lotion jars work great)
  • labels
  • wooden skewers or spoon

INGREDIENTS:

*Note:  you can alter the types of herbs and essential oils that you put in your salve depending on what your needs are. If you don’t already have these supplies, it may seem like a big investment to make a healing salve. However, the oils and vit E will last a very long time, and you’ll be able to use them for other things.

I like this blend because of the amazing properties of these herbs and oils, making it a great GO TO salve for just about anything.

I am one who likes to know the WHY about what ingredients are in the products I am using.  So here is the scoop.

CALENDULA:

Calendula has a long history of use as a wound-healing and skin-soothing botanical.

PLANTAIN:

Plantain is a low-growing herb (weed). It is most often used for stings and bites. 

COMFREY:

It is well known to assist healing in any part of the body that is torn or broken.

*If you grow these herbs, dry them and store them in an air tight zip bag so you can make salve anytime.  You can also just buy the herbs at your local health food store or online.  I like Starwest Botanicals

 
TEA TREE Essential OIL:

  • Renowned for its cleansing and rejuvenating
    effect on the skin.
  • Skin irritations

LAVENDER essential OIL:

  • Widely used for its calming and relaxing qualities.
  • Soothes occasional skin irritations.
    You want to make sure you use good quality, pure essential oils when making salves and tinctures.  When making cleaning supplies, it is not as important. If you would like to know where I buy most of my oils, send me a note.

Let’s get started!

healing salve youmakeitsimple.com

1- Preheat your oven to the lowest setting (150 – 170 degrees)

Measure the dry herbs and put them in an oven proof pan

healing salve youmakeitsimple.com olive oil

2- Cover with 4 cups olive oil and stir.

Place oil and herbs in oven and heat for 4-5 hours. Heating the oil infuses the properties of the herbs into the oil.

3- Place a few layers of cheesecloth over a bowl or pan.

healing salve youmakeitsimple.com straining herbs

When the oil has cooled a bit, pour the herb mixture over the cheesecloth to strain. Squeeze out all the oil.

4- Then I like to strain it again through a piece of 100 % cotton fabric.

healing salve youmakeitsimple.com melting wax

5-  Melt the bees wax.

I have an old pan that I use only for melting my wax in and I keep it wrapped in a plastic bag when not in use. Place that pan in another wider pan with water in it. 

It is VERY important that you don’t get ANY water in the wax, or this will promote spoiling of your salve.

Melt the wax, stirring frequently.  (This smells so yummy)

healing salve youmakeitsimple.com jars

6-  Prepare jars

Make sure jars are clean! You can sterilize them by placing them in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes. I usually just make sure they have been cleaned with hot soapy water and dried thoroughly. 

7-  Add the melted wax to the oil, and mix well.

*By using a wooden skewer to stir with, you will save wasting a bunch of salve that will stick to the spoon.
 
To test the consistency of the salve, take a spoon and dip into the mixture. Take it out and let it cool a few seconds. Test the consistency. This is the time to add more wax if it is too runny.
 

8-  Add the essential oils and vitamin E now and mix well.

MOVE QUICKLY.
healing salve youmakeitsimple.com

9-  Pour the salve into the jars.

You will need to stir in between pourings to keep things mixed up.
 
You may even need to heat it up a bit if it starts to set up. (Just don’t heat very long at all and use a very low setting, so you don’t loose all the properties of the essential oils.)

Don’t you just love the beautiful green color, and it smells FABULOUS!

healing salve youmakeitsimple.com

I love these little travel-size tins! 

I always double the batch because there is always someone who wants a jar, and they make great gifts or party favors.

The jars that you are not currently using, store in the refrigerator so they will last longer and not go rancid.

There you have it, a salve that is chuck full of healing goodness.
 
You may also be interested in my natural deodorant recipe and tutorial.
 
Enjoy!

How To Make Healing Salve

healing salve youmakeitsimple.com

An amazing salve for cuts, scrapes, dry skin, and more! 

  • Prep Time5 min
  • Total Time5 min
  • Yield4 Batches
  • Meta LabelLabel Value

    Ingredients

    Supplies List:

      • Oven proof pan for infusing oil
      • cheese cloth
      • Double boiler or two sauce pans for melting wax
      • Sterile containers (glass baby food jars, empty recycled hair product or face lotion jars work great)
      • Labels
      • Wooden skewers or spoon

    Ingredients:

    INSTUCTIONS

    1

    Preheat your oven to the lowest setting (150 – 170 degrees)

    Measure the dry herbs and put them in an oven proof pan

     
    2

    Cover with 4 cups olive oil and stir.

    Place oil and herbs in oven and heat for 4-5 hours. Heating the oil infuses the properties of the herbs into the oil.

    3

    Place a few layers of cheesecloth over a bowl or pan.

    When the oil has cooled a bit, pour the herb mixture over the cheesecloth to strain. Squeeze out all the oil.

    4

    Then I like to strain it again through a piece of 100 % cotton fabric.

    5

    Melt the bees wax.

    I have an old pan that I use only for melting my wax in and I keep it wrapped in a plastic bag when not in use. Place that pan in another wider pan with water in it. 

    It is VERY important that you don’t get ANY water in the wax, or this will promote spoiling of your salve.

    Melt the wax, stirring frequently.  (This smells so yummy)

    6

    Prepare jars

    Make sure jars are clean! You can sterilize them by placing them in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes. I usually just make sure they have been cleaned with hot soapy water and dried thoroughly. 

    7

    Add the melted wax to the oil, and mix well.

    *By using a wooden skewer to stir with, you will save wasting a bunch of salve that will stick to the spoon.

     
    To test the consistency of the salve, take a spoon and dip into the mixture. Take it out and let it cool a few seconds. Test the consistency. This is the time to add more wax if it is too runny.
    8

    Add the essential oils and vitamin E now and mix well.

    MOVE QUICKLY.

    9

    Pour the salve into the jars.

    You will need to stir in between pourings to keep things mixed up.

     

    You may even need to heat it up a bit if it starts to set up. (Just don’t heat very long at all and use a very low setting, so you don’t loose all the properties of the essential oils.)

    Don’t you just love the beautiful green color, and it smells FABULOUS!

    Share:

    Facebook
    Twitter
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    Connect:

    Picture of Jan Howell

    Jan Howell

    Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

    Read More