How to Use Comfrey to Help Heal Broken Bones
Traditionally comfrey was referred to as knit-bone and was used as a poultice—and as a food—to encourage healing of broken bones and wounds. As part of our self-sufficient lifestyle living off the grid, I grow organic comfrey and a range of other medicinal herbs.
As soon as my husband returned from hospital after surgery on his broken ankle, I began including fresh comfrey in his meals.
I waited until the surgical staples were removed from his wounds before applying a comfrey poultice directly to his broken bones, but I didn't wait for long. Here's how I included comfrey in his recovery process.
Making My Fresh Comfrey Poultice
Two days after the staples were removed from my husband's broken ankle, I applied the first comfrey poultice.
Because I grow my own organic comfrey, I knew there was no danger of chemical fertilizer or pesticides on the plant.
It was a little disappointing that it was winter and most of my comfrey plants had died back, at the time my husband had the accident that resulted in broken bones, but I had enough plants in sheltered positions (including a couple in large pots) to create the first poultice. Now that it's springtime and my comfrey is more prolific, I am making more.
I pick the leaves, wash them in fresh rainwater (I live off the grid and carefully collect clean rainwater for drinking) and use the leaves immediately.
Comfrey is available in processed form from a variety of outlets. Many people use bottled products, but I always harvest from my own plants and use medicinal herbs fresh.
I use a cold-press juicer to crush fresh comfrey leaves when preparing a comfrey poultice.
The beauty of this type of juicer is that it separates the comfrey juice from the pulp. They can be collected in separate containers if you prefer.
Comfrey Ready to Apply
First I rub some juice into his leg, then I mix the comfrey pulp with the remaining juice and "plaster" it on thickly. Note the plastic kitchen wrap beneath his ankle... and the towel beneath that. A comfrey poultice can be messy.
Sit and Relax
Healing Broken Bones
This is just one in a series of articles I've written about my husband's broken ankle. If you've followed his story you'll know that I effectively reduced his swelling using a natural product, allowing surgeons to operate within 24 hours of the accident.
You'll also be aware he has been eating specific foods to help strengthen broken bones.
You've probably seen the photos after surgery, and the x-rays showing the plates and screws used to hold his broken bones together.
Here are the photos most relevant to his use of comfrey after his surgical staples were removed.
Please note the dramatic difference between his leg looking like "a piece of meat" when the staples were taken out, and the second photo showing the smaller scar on his ankle, immediately after the comfrey poultice.
We were particularly impressed by the healthy pink area where the staple marks are barely visible. Unfortunately it was winter and I didn't have enough comfrey on hand to wrap it thickly around his entire ankle. I wonder how good the results might have been if I had.
When I only had a limited amount of fresh leaf, I chose to include comfrey in his meals, with only a small amount left to make into a poultice.
With the changing season and more comfrey leaves growing, I now plaster the comfrey on thickly.
How Does A Comfrey Poultice Feel?
My husband says the comfrey is very soothing.
After a week of spending all day every day on his feet, working and walking, he came home early today because his ankle was aching and he simply had to stop. It is only four and a half months since his accident and surgery—and he had been warned it could take a year or more before he would be back to normal.
Within an hour of me applying the fresh comfrey poultice, he said the ache was gone. He left it on for most of the day. Today I also put some underneath his foot, instead of just on his lower leg and ankle where the plates and screws were inserted, in case it might help.
Of course he finds it impossible to remain seated for too long, and insisted in short walks around the house. He said walking with the poultice on felt like treading in porridge. LOL!
What's Your Approach When Healing Broken Bones?
Are you a person who just follows the lead of your doctor, or do you seek out complementary therapies?
Comfrey has many uses in my home. I keep at least a little growing in a pot in case of winter emergencies (like my husband's broken ankle), and lots growing in the garden to use as a mulch and plant food during the vegetable growing seasons.
Ways to Use Comfrey to Aid Your Recovery
- As a poultice, applied over your broken bone.
- Fresh leaf used in stir-fries (please research your species of comfrey and proper dosage to avoid ingesting plants with potential toxicity).
- Juiced for a drink. Add some lemon juice, a little water and a teaspoon of honey to make it more tasty (again, please research your species of comfrey and proper dosage to avoid ingesting plants with potential toxicity).
Isn't Comfrey Toxic or Poisonous When Eaten?
Some governments have banned the use of comfrey tablets and capsules for medicinal use, yet have no objection to comfrey being used as a food.
If you study the debate, you will learn that an adult human would need to eat over 19,000 comfrey leaves to ingest an amount of comfrey comparable to the quantity given to baby rats in an experiment that resulted in liver damage.
It saddens me when government authorities ignore hundreds of years of traditional healing and fail to adequately question "research" before deeming a natural remedy unsuitable for widespread use.
Because we are never likely to eat 19,000 comfrey leaves in our lifetimes, let alone in a short period of time, we happily eat comfrey as a food. It is one of the main foods we use for strengthening broken bones.
I don't like buying tablets and capsules, and always prefer to grow my own organic produce.
Fortunately, comfrey is surprisingly easy to grow. :)
In response to a reader's question, here is a juicer very similar to mine. I find it particularly useful for separating juice from pulp, without losing the pulp. In addition to creating poultices, I use mine to extract juice for fruit and vegetable juices - then include the pulp in a quiche or a pie or anything else I'm baking that would benefit from the extra taste and nutrition.
Does Comfrey Really Help to Heal Bones?
Despite breaking multiple bones in his ankle and requiring the surgical addition of plates and screws, my husband was walking unaided just three months after his accident.
We had been told by his doctors it would likely be a year or more before his ankle was properly healed.
Did comfrey help heal his broken bones? Yes, we believe it did.
Nature provides many remedies too valuable to ignore. Comfrey is one of them.
Questions & Answers
My daughter has a fracture on her foot. How often do I need to use comfrey oil on it?
I use fresh comfrey, not store-bought comfrey oil. I put fresh comfrey poultice on at least once a day during the initial healing period. I’m not familiar with ‘comfrey oil’ but I suggest you apply it a couple of times a day. Make sure you don’t put it onto an open/healing wound though. If she has stitches, avoid them.
I also suggest you take a look at my article about foods to help heal broken bones, if you’re looking for additional ideas. Plus if your daughter has swelling, I’ve written about that as well.
What kind of comfrey did you use?
The difference in varieties of comfrey is really not worth worrying about. I use two types: some with white flowers, some with purple. I use the leaves from both.
Where can I get a comfrey plant?
Ask at your local plant nursery. They should be able to order one in. The plant you buy will be very small, but comfrey is quick growing if you plant it out in good soil and give it room to grow.
Your other option would be posting a ‘wanted’ ad on a local website or in your local newspaper where gardeners are likely to see it. All you need is a small piece of comfrey root to plant.
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