Symphytum officinale


Described by a 17th-century English countrywoman as being able to ‘heal all inward wounds and burstings’, comfrey is also known as knitbone. With its hairy leaves and drooping flowers of yellowish cream or purple, the plant’s name is derived from the Latin con firma, alluding to the broken bones it helps to heal. Symphytum is from the Greek, meaning ‘to unite’.

Parts used

Roots and leaves. A decoction of the root is used to ease coughs.


Comfrey’s roots and leaves contain allantoin, a compound that helps regenerate skin cells. Other constituents are rosmarinic acid and tannins, which also help in the growth of new skin cells. It is also rich in a thick, gluey substance known as mucilage, which can strengthen and repair the mucous membrane.

Medicinal uses

  • Comfrey’s demulcent, astringent and expectorant properties promote healing of bronchial and lung conditions.
  • Helps in the treatment of fractures and sprains.
  • Promotes wound healing after injury.
  • Helps heal stomach and varicose ulcers.
  • Is a gentle remedy in cases of dysentery and diarrhoea.


Talk to your medical practitioner before taking any herbal supplements.
Comfrey contains toxins that may increase the chance of liver damage if taken with medications that affect the liver. Do not give to children or pregnant women. Always consult your medical professional before taking herbal remedies.

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Domestic & culinary uses

While young leaves were once cooked as a vegetable, comfrey is not known as a culinary ingredient in modern kitchens.


Comfrey is indigenous to Europe and Asia, where it grows in damp soils, and the plants will do well if planted in shady areas, for example under trees. They need little care, except to be kept free of weeds. The plants can be grown from seed or by root propagation. Keep moist.

Photo credits

  1. Evelyn Simak [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Information in our herb library is intended only as a general reference for further exploration. It is not a replacement for professional health advice and does not provide complete dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription medicines. Accordingly, this information should only be used under the direct supervision of a suitably qualified health practitioner such as a registered homeopath, naturopath or phytotherapist.