Is Comfrey safe?

December 20, 2004

I have heard mixed messages on the safety of Comfrey. I hear it is a wonderful healing plant, cures all kinds of stuff. Some say don't take it internally or put on open wounds because of alkaloids that are harmful to the liver. I think the FDA has put some kind of ban on it. Others claim it has wonderful healing abilities. This spring I planted some comfrey, Symphytum peregrinum, Bocking 14. I hear it is great to slash the leaves and put on plants as mulch or make fertilizer out of it. But is it really not safe to use it on open wounds or internally? Doesn't make a bit of sense to me that a plant with such healing power would be dangerous to use.

Comments (44)

  • Judy_B_ON

    You are getting mixed messages likely because of mixed messangers. Word of mouth may not match the scientific literature. The science is of one voice: comfrey is not safe.

    Comfrey was banned for internal use by the FDA because it not only damages liver, it can cause liver cancer. There is concern that if it is used on open wounds, the chemicals that cause liver damage and cancer could be absorbed by the body.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Comfrey

  • mennomom

    After I posted I looked further and saw there were two other posts about it.

    Please don't tell me it is dangerous for me to use on my plants. I will be very disappointed.

  • Judy_B_ON

    It's only dangerous to your plants if they have livers! Otherwise the leaves will make a natural compost like any other organic material.

  • Heathen1

    BUT to make it more confusing, they use it sometimes for Crohn's disease... because well, Crohn's disease will kill you too! So it is a toss up, which is more likely to kill you? But somepeople think that because it is a plant and good for somethings, it will be good for everything...

  • Daisyduckworth

    Comfrey is no longer recommended for internal use, but it can still be used externally. Trouble is, its cell-regeneration powers are so strong that any infection is likely to stay underneath the scab that forms on the top! I use it for things like bruising, sprains and other muscular soreness, as a poultice. As a wash, the tea is good for some skin ailments. It's great for the garden as a mulch and to help break down a compost heap. Plants can 'eat' it without harm - they eat lots of things that I wouldn't eat! And my plants don't taste like manure!!

  • dogbane23

    BUT to make it more confusing, they use it sometimes for Crohn's disease... because well, Crohn's disease will kill you too! So it is a toss up, which is more likely to kill you? But somepeople think that because it is a plant and good for somethings, it will be good for everything...

    Good point. Some plants arnt recommended for internal uses besides comfrey:

    Acorus calamus(Sweetflag) contains beta-asarones that are known to be carcinogenic.

    Asarum canadensis(Wild Ginger) i believe also may contain beta-asarones, and internal use isnt recommended.

    Dont assume all plants are safe, but also dont be closeminded and assume all herbs are not safe just because the fda tries to tell u so.

  • limhyl

    The cases cited by those claiming that comfrey caused liver problems are ones in which the subject in question took large quantities over a very long period of time. Not the way most people would take it. Use your own judgement but read these studies with a critical eye. I've known people who have fed this herb to their livestock for years and when the animals where killed their livers were robust and healthy looking. Go figure. Theresa.

  • rusty_blackhaw

    Comfrey in even low doses has been shown to cause liver damage.

    From a review by PJ Abbott (Med J Aust 1988 149(11-12):678-82):

    "The acute and long-term health risks at the normally-low levels of comfrey consumption are evaluated and discussed. On the basis of the data that are available currently, the small but significant long-term risk that is associated with the consumption of comfrey justifies the need to limit its intake."

    Seeing that there are no good research studies showing that comfrey is an effective medication, it is questionable why anyone would take the risk involving in consuming it, seeing as the potential end result is liver failure and death.

  • Daisyduckworth

    As with so many other herbs, its safety is hotly disputed. If you MUST take it, use the leaves instead of the roots. But with so many excellent and safer alternatives available, I don't see why anyone would want to take the risk.

  • veeja11

    I have taken over 500mg of comfrey internally, DAILY, for over thirty years.I have used it externally as a salve or poultice for cuts, burns etc as the need arises.
    As a landscaper I got my share of injuries. I heal faster than anyone I know. I am over fifty and I am healthier than anyone I know.
    Millions of people have used comfrey from all over the world for over four thousand years.
    You'll have to do better than a couple sick rats and the ubiquitous cancer scare to tarnish this herbs reputation.

  • johnyb

    If anyone wished to use comfrey internally and was worried about the rare possibility of liver damage, a monthly blood test for liver function (Liver Function Test)would detect any abnormalities.

    Australian aborigines eat a comfrey strain as a staple to their diet in northern regions with no adverse effects.


  • Lyla_zone7b

    Judy_B_ON,...Sloan-Kettering??? Do you go to the pope for birth control?
    Daisyduckworth,where can I find clinical studies to back up the statement that,"my plants don't taste like manure"
    Eric_OH, you make the statement,
    "Seeing that there are no good research studies showing that comfrey is an effective medication", what leads you to beleive that any of the medications which have such, will work in all instances, or that such studies are even required for herbal medicnes?
    Who says so and why?
    The Art of herbal healing was around for many centuries before,the first such studies were done, practitioners have centuries of real results upon which to base their opinions. You are trying to impose upon one dicipline, the rules of another.Because of your own opinion.
    What are your credintials, to do so?
    What is the extent of your practice?
    Why should I accept your NEW rules of proof for an ancient art?
    As stated by veeja11 above, many people have used comfrey for many hundreds of years.
    Both internally and externally.
    In all that time and all those people, I do not believe there has been 1(one), NOT one, documented case of liver damage, indisputably caused by comfrey,taken according to accepted herbal usages, in humans.
    Pharmaceutical companies, who usually get what they pay for, usually pay for these Tests.
    Many times these clinical trials of herbal medicines are done by feeding the rats, not the herb itself or a form of the whole herb as would be used in a human, but with EXTRACTS OF CHEMICALS, Taken from the herb. Or manufactured to mimic it, this effectively removes any natural buffers which might prevent harmful side effects, in its actual use.
    Whatever it takes to obtain the results, which will keep the research money flowing in that direction, I suppose.
    Most living things, including plants, sometimes contain very small amounts of chemicals taken up from the environment. To extract arsenic from a potato, and use it for testing, would not prove that potatoes cause arsenic poison and death.
    I have noticed that every time a healing herb is brought to the attention of the general public, it is quickly followed by "CLINICAL STUDIES", which most often find the herb to be harmful.
    The greatly touted phrase, "not proven to be effective", would be laughable, if not so vindictively used.
    Thousands of people, effectively and safely cured over a time period of many hundreds of years, Is proof enough for most rational people.
    To use the standards of one discipline to judge another, fairly and usefully is impossible.
    The art of Healing is motivated by the desire to alleviate pain and cure illness.
    The modern science of pharmaceutical medicine is motivated by the bottom line. And herbs cannot be patented and sold for extremely high prices.

    Any comparison of the two is "apples to oranges", and irrelevant.
    I have used herbal preparations, with great success, many times curing ailments that, had been treated to no avail, by pharmaceutical means, by MDÂs. By drugs considered by that discipline to be, "proven to be effective". Yet, the cheap, quick and simple herbs, which effectively cured these conditions, are attacked at every turn.
    I strongly suggest, that when some one starts using words and phrases like, "not proven to be effective", "CLINICAL STUDIES", and "scientific herbalism"; You ignore them as soon as possible and search out someone who knows what they are talking about. Someone who is an actual practitioner of the healing arts.

    Herbs are an inexpensive, effective and safe, means of treating most, non-major-trauma, ills that beset us. IF THEY ARE USED PROPERLY!
    Medicinal herbs, are strong medicines. In many cases, the better the medicine, the more poisonous the plant.
    They should not be casually ingested.
    They are not a Quick fix.

    Anyone CAN learn to use herbal medicines safely and effectively.

    If they are willing to invest the TIME and obtain the books necessary for learning and research.
    If you are willing but short on fundsÂask for trades.
    Anyone not willing to make that investment should seek out a knowledgeable herbal practitioner, as the cheaper and less time consuming alternative.
    Because, if you practice herbal medicine in ignoranceÂ.sooner or later, you will kill someone.
    Less important, your treatments may be ineffective, and useless.
    If you wish to begin and succeed in the use of herbal medicine, I would suggest a trip to a good local bookstore and the purchase of three, good books on the general use of herbs and their preparation and use in various ailments.
    I would suggest,
    "Back to Eden" by Jethro Kloss
    " A Modern Herbal", by M. Grieves, in 2 volumes
    And a third volume, of the same type, your choice.
    For now, just use of herbs for various illnessesÂNo side issues
    Then after reading about general issues, and comfrey, you must make a knowledgeable decision as to the use of comfrey, in whatever circumstances avail.

    SEE also, the thread PAW PAW, this forum.

  • Judy_B_ON

    If you are researching the safety of Comfrey, I suggest trying a search on PubMed as well

    Here are some links to published articles, including one by traditional medicine showing comfrey works as a topical pain reliever, reported death and disease from comfrey and one by herbal researchers advising against oral ingestion.

  • veeja11

    Thank you Judy B On
    Those four websites are perfect examples of how lame the case against Comfrey is.
    I have only used the Symphytum officinales throughout my life and I see the researchers didn't mention it. There statements also only mention the P.A.'s as problematic not the herb.That is the typical arsenic in the potato analogy
    as stated, so eloquently,- thank you Lyla - above.
    Thanks again

  • johnyb

    Comfrey (Symphytum officinale or Symphytum x uplandicum), has a long history of medicinal use. Yet Comfrey is a herb surrounded by controversy. To some it is virtually a panacea, to others it is a dangerous and poisonous weed. The world of herbalism abounds with anecdotal accounts of its virtues, but there have been few serious studies of ts medicinal use. What has instead appeared in the scientific literature are studies which claim to emonstrate harmful effects and this has led to the use of Comfrey being restricted by its classification as a poison. Australia was the first country to do this but others have followed. The reason is that Comfrey contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids these are toxic substances.
    The pyrrxolizidine alkaloids (PAs) found in Comfrey are not responsible for its therapeutic effects. Alkaloids are plant substances which contain nitrogen, and can have high phamacological activities morphine, quinine and nicotine are examples. Comfrey leaves contain about 0.06% alkaloids, and roots about 0.2 to 0.4%. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids contain two fused five-membered rings with a nitrogen atom common to both rings. They form a highly diverse group of chemicals and are widespread in the plant kingdom. Some, but not all, are quite toxic, particularly to the liver. There are many well-documented cases of livestock poisonings. Human poisoning occurs largely in the third world from contaminated food or herbal teas and a liver disorder known as veno-occlusive disease often follows.

    A number of important issues are embodied in the Comfrey dilemma, issues which have much broader implications for herbal medicine. Should a medicinal plant which has a long history of safe use be regarded as dangerous because it contains low levels of toxic chemicals? Should a medicinal plant be regarded as carcinogenic because it produces a few malignant tumours in inbred, susceptible laboratory animals when fed to them at unrealistically high levels over a whole lifetime? To address these issues requires rationality and good science, but above all common sense. So far these have been lacking from the Comfrey debate. It has been a debate argued from extremes.

    On the one hand a group of well-meaning scientists actively lobbied the Australian government to have Comfrey restricted. The basis for their concern was just two toxicological studies, both of which have doubtful relevance to normal human use. The arguments generally used were related to pyrrolizidine alkaloids, not Comfrey itself, and their theme was that pyrrolizidine alkaloids should be entirely eliminated from human diet and human medicine.

    Their zeal saw Comfrey in some states of Australia receive a higher poisons classification than arsenic, hemlock,belladonna and strychnine. In Victoria Comfrey
    was restricted from external use when there is no evidence
    that this is harmful. The hysteria generated by their crusade saw a coroner file a report in Australia attributing a human death to just a few meals containing
    Comfrey leaves.

    On the other hand the defence for Comfrey has been at times emotional and irrational. It is not enough for herbalists and naturopaths to say, "I have used it and
    never seen any harm," or for a consumer to say, Ive taken
    50g every day for 10 years and Im normal."Valid as these
    observations may be, similar arguments have been used
    to defend, for example, cigarette smoking. It does not
    impress the scientific community to argue emotionally
    or from personal experience.What does impress are new,
    objective facts, or a critical interpretation of the existing facts.

    So what are the facts? The relevant issues can be embodied in the form of six questions. By dealing with these questions, the facts can emerge. How do the toxicological studies on Comfrey compare with those for commonly used plant substances?

    The first study by Culvenor and associates was concerned
    with the acute and sub-acute toxicity of the PAs
    extracted from Russian Comfrey (Symphytum x uplandicum) leaves.4 These PA s were administered by injection, so it is difficult to relate this to the oral use of the Comfrey leaf, but ignoring this we can still arrive at some pertinent facts.

    We can convert the injected dose of alkaloids in rats
    to the equivalent oral human dose of leaves based on the
    fact that a leaf consistently contains 0.33mg of alkaloids
    whether it is old (large) or young (small).5 These projections are given in Table 1. Clearly from this information, normal human consumption of a few leaves per day does not pose an immediate threat to health, a fact acknowledged by Culvenor.

    The dose needed for death is impossibly high. How could anyone possibly consume 66,300 Comfrey leaves at one sitting more than the persons body weight in Comfrey? How could one even consume this amount over 10 days? Yet a coroner has reported, on the basis of medical opinion, that someone died of acute Comfrey poisoning.6 This is a travesty of common sense. Clearly it is impossible to die from acute Comfrey toxicity. Other factors must have been at play.7

    Even to show some mild impairment of liver function one would need to consume 4.5kg of leaves per day for 3 weeks (assuming 5g per leaf). Yet there are 2 medical papers associating, by hearsay only, acute PA toxicity in the form of veno-occlusive disease with Comfrey medications.8,9 In neither case was it verified scientifically that herbal preparations used by the subjects contained Comfrey. Also it was not ascertained
    that this was their only source of PA intake. This is a
    travesty of scientific method and a poor reflection on the
    journals which accepted these articles for publication.
    Doubly so, because once something is in print in a journal it is often quoted in a superficial way as fact, with no analysis of the validity of the original information (as is the case in some internet forums).

    Is Comfrey carcinogenic?
    Here we refer to the second toxicological study on Comfrey by Japanese workers entitled, "Carcinogenic Activity of Symphytum officinale".10 A foregone conclusion, isnt it? The title says it all. But is it a fact? Although this is a relatively recent study, it does not satisfy many of How carcinogenic are pyrrolizidine alkaloids? The question of the carcinogenicity of PAs is a controversial area. In laboratory animals only a handful of the large number of PAs have been studied and while malignant tumours have been induced in many organs, usually it has only been in a small percentage of the test population. Most studies have reported the induction of liver tumours, but there is controversy as to whether these are malignant. Chronic PA poisoning gives rise to liver nodules, and the tumours found in these are probably benign not malignant.1 One scientist in the field concluded, "As far as pyrrolizidine alkaloid carcinogenesis is concerned then, an important part of the argument rests on the disputed identity of the lesions reported as hepatoma".1 The study of PA toxicity is not a crowded field, so there has not been exhaustive examination of carcinogenicity often preliminary studies are not followed up. This can result in things being taken for proven facts which are far from properly studied. No-one, for example, has repeated the original arcinogenicity study on Comfrey, despite all the controversy. Given the controversy over the carcinogenicity of PAs as observed in the laboratory, it is noteworthy that there has never been a link with PA intake and cancer in human or in veterinary studies, despite the many recorded cases of livestock poisoning.1 PA poisoning (venoocclusive disease), is high in Jamaicadue to indigenous herbal teas yet the incidence of primary liver cancer is lower than in western countries. Also primary liver cancer is not more common in people with livers damaged by PAs than in people with cirrhotic livers due to alcoholism.2

    Is it valid to generalise about PAs in terms of
    their toxicity and carcinogenicity?
    In one study rats were fed green leaves of Senecio jacobea
    (Oxford Ragwort) and Comfrey in their diet.3 At 5% Comfrey leaves there was no sign of toxicity, but at 1% Ragwort leaves in the diet there were many signs of toxicity, including changes in liver enzyme activity.3 Even 20% Comfrey leaf in the diet did not cause the liver enzyme changes from 1% Ragwort.3 Comfrey PAs are therefore much less toxic to the liver than those of Ragwort. This would explain why Ragwort causes livestock poisoning whereas Comfrey is used as a livestock feed, with excellent results. In fact there are no recorded cases of livestock poisoning due to Comfrey.

    What do the toxicological studies on Comfrey
    really show?
    Despite all the rhetoric there are in fact only two full-scale toxicological studies on Comfrey. To quote other publications which merely interpret the findings of these two studies does not constitute additional evidence. 2 Professional Review
    Alkaloid Dose Effect Equivalent Human
    for Rat Dose of Leaves
    284mg/kg Deaths 66,300 Jeaves
    71 mg/kg No effect 16,600 leaves
    8.9mg/kg Reduced liver 890 leaves/day
    (9 doses over 3 weeks) function
    Toxicity Studies of Symphytum x uplandicum Leaf alkaloids.4 the criteria demanded for a rigorous assessment of carcinogenicity. Rats were fed Comfrey leaf from 8 to 33% of their diet, thus all test levels exceeded the 5% maximum recommended by the EC. Test levels for the
    root were 0.5 to 4%. Liver tumours were observed in all
    test groups, but the vast majority were probably benign tumours (hepatomas), indicating hepatotoxicity at the
    levels tested. For the rats fed 8% Comfrey leaf only one
    benign tumour occurred late in the study, indicating low
    toxicity and absence of carcinogenicity. Only 3 definite
    liver cancers (haemangioendothelial sarcomas) occurred
    randomly throughout the 7 test groups, a level which has
    neither statistical nor biological significance.
    In order to prove biological significance for a carcinogen
    the following criteria must be demonstrated:11
    A dose-response relationship
    A decreased latency period for the tumours
    A more anaplastic tumour type than controls
    Early or pre-neoplastic lesions
    Capability to produce a reliable and consistent
    increase in tumour incidence
    None of these criteria was satisfied for the liver
    sarcomas. The fact that rats could be fed 33% Comfrey
    leaves in their diet and still survive to old age is testimony to its relatively low toxicity.How many drugs could survive such scrutiny?

    Let us take everyday tea as an example. Tea is the dried fermented leaves of Thea sinensis, a herb indigenous to the Indian sub-continent. Tea contains caffeine and tannins, including tannic acid, as its main constituents.(12) A superficial examination of the literature reveals the following: Caffeine is a known teratogen,(13) a suspected carcinogen,(14) and in animal feeding studies causes severe weight loss and thymic and testicular atrophy.15 Tannins have demonstrated carcinogenic effects, they inhibit digestive enzymes, inhibit mineral absorption and are highly toxic to the liver and kidneys.16 Human deaths have resulted
    from the administration of tannic acid.17 The carcinogenic
    activity18 and toxicity19 of the tannins from tea have
    been demonstrated in animal experiments. In human
    studies tea can cause thiamine deficiency,20 constipation21
    and epidemiological studies have linked black tea with
    rectal22 and oesophageal cancers.18 Of course, common
    sense tells us normal use of tea is safe, but the scientific information taken out of context is quite damning, in fact more alarming than that for Comfrey.
    It is worthwhile to examine why this considerable
    scientific evidence for the toxic nature of tea has not made headlines and has not resulted in tea being restricted or entirely banned in the public interest. Just as a series of promising pharmacological studies does not imply the birth of a new wonder drug, the findings of toxicological studies can be of only minor relevance to the common experience. Differences such as species studied, dose, form a dose, interaction with nutrients, and duration of dose all combine to explain why the results for tea and its components should have little bearing on the moderate consumption of the beverage. Qualified herbalists can therefore be forgiven for taking a similar stance about Comfrey. The main difference is that toxicologists and legislators are familiar with tea, but to them Comfrey is alien and unnecessary so they are prepared to believe the worst.

    Assuming Comfrey was a proven carcinogen,
    what is the relative risk of drinking Comfrey tea?

    Life is carcinogenic so it has been said. Here we are
    undertaking an assessment of relative risk. Dr Bruce
    Ames, a respected scientist in the fields of carcinogenicity and mutagenicity has published an article in the journal Science entitled "Ranking Possible Carcinogenic Hazards".23 The review discusses reasons why animal cancer tests cannot be conclusively used to predict human risks but such tests may be used to indicate that some chemicals might be of greater concern than others. An
    index was developed called HERP Human exposure dose/Rodent potency dose. In this study it was found that inhaling air in the home absopbs 598mcg of Formaldahyde, and that cooking bacon causes the inhalation of .4 mcgs of nitrosamines which puts the 750mcgs of PA's you'd ingest from a cup of comfrey tea in perspective.

    So now we have the facts:
    1. There is some doubt that pyrrolizidine alkaloids
    cause cancer outside of laboratory experiments.
    2. The pyrrolizidine alkaloids in Comfrey are qualitatively
    and quantitatively less toxic than pyrrolizidine
    alkaloids found in known poisonous plants, e.g.
    3. Atoxicological study has shown that normal human
    use of Comfrey cannot cause death or toxicity.
    4. The incidence of malignant tumours induced by
    long-term experimental feeding of high levels ofComfrey to rats is neither statistically nor biologically
    5. Toxicological studies of tea are far more extensive
    and alarming than those on Comfrey, yet tea is widely
    used without apparent harm or restriction to its use.
    6. Even assuming that Comfrey was carcinogenic, the
    relative risk from its normal use is insignificant when
    compared to normal exposure to other carcinogens.
    A recent study of long-term Comfrey users tends to
    confirm the premise that normal use of Comfrey is not
    hepatotoxic.24 Biochemical tests revealed no evidence of
    liver damage in 29 users, even for those who had been
    regularly taking up to 25g/day for more than 20 years.24
    Comfrey was never regarded as a poisonous plant.
    Despite the findings of two laboratory studies, it should
    maintain this status. However, in the interests of the public and the herbal profession, a rigorous study of its longterm toxicity should be undertaken. Otherwise the
    Comfrey issue will continue to damage the credibility of
    herbal medicine in many countries.


    1. McLean, E.A: Pharmacol Rev 22, 429 (1970); 2. Bras, G. et al: J Patho Bacteriol
    82, 503 (1961); 3. Garrett, B.J. et al: Toxicol Lett 10, 183 (1982); 4. Culvenor, C. C.
    J et al: Experientia 36, 377 (1980); 5. Mattocks, A.R: Lancet 2, 1136 (1980); 6. NZ
    Dept of Justice, Coroners report on the death of Paul Edward Neutz, March 12,
    1986; 7. Beckham, N: Wellbeing, April (1988); 8. Weston, C.F.M. et al: BMJ 295,
    183; 9. Ridker, P.M. et al: Gastroenterology 88, 1050 (1985); 10. Hirono, I. et al:
    JNCI 61, 865 (1978) 11. Borzelleca, J.F. et al: Fd Chem Toxic 23, 551 (1985); 12,
    Trease, G.E. and Evans,W.C: Pharmacognosy, 12th ed., Balliere Tindall, London, P
    622 (1983); 13. Collins, T.F.X. et al: Fd Chem Toxic 25, 647 (1987); 14. Rozenkranz,
    H.S. and Ennerver, F.K: ibid 25, 247 (1987); 15. Gans, J.H: ibid 22, 365 (1984); 16.
    Deshpande, S.S. et al: Adv in Exptal Med and Biol 177, 457 (1984); 17. Kreanoski,
    J.Z: Radiology 87, 655 (1966); 18. Morton, J.F: Science 204, 909 (1979); 19. Panda,
    N.C. et al: Ind J Nutr and Diet, p97 (1981 ); 20. Ruenwongsa, P. and Patannavibag,
    S: Experientia 38, 787 (1982); 21. Hojyaard, L. et al: BMJ 282, 864 (1981); 22.
    Heilbrun, L. K. et al: Br J Cancer 54, 677 (1986); 23. Ames, B.N. et al: Science 236,
    271 (1987); 24. Anderson, P.C. and McLean, A.E.M.: Human Toxicology 8 (1)
    55 (1989).

  • veeja11

    thank you john

  • rusty_blackhaw

    I have not heard of any medicinal forms of comfrey that do not contain toxic PAs.

    John's post appears to be the same one he made in this discussion (is this something you put together, or is it from a pro-comfrey website?).

    Large-scale studies of comfrey toxicity are unlikely to undertaken now (in part due to the lack of human volunteers willing to risk liver damage and death). To this point there has been a similar lack of clinical trials showing that comfrey has significant medical value - so the big question is whether it is worth risking one's health to take an herbal drug with doubtful effectiveness.

  • joshwdavis_msn_com

    I have taken Comfrey off and on for about one year and have not got sick when everyone else around me has. Is it because of comfrey? I don't know. I have also taken a blood test and my liver was just fine. I wouldn't suggest to anyone that this herb is a cure-all, or should be taken by everyone. Obviously people should use their best judgement before taking anything, but I will say that there is something to this plant that is positive - which leads me to believe is a threat to modern money-making medicine. Any abuse of any substance is not good; but to ban this plant is rediculous. Most FDA approved medicines are metabolized in the liver, thus can lead to liver damage...get the facts.

  • rusty_blackhaw

    I haven't caught any colds or had any other infections for the past couple of years, and I haven't taken any comfrey. Does this show that not using comfrey protects you?

    It's true that a lot of prescription drugs are at least partially metabolized in the liver. When the subject of protecting or "cleansing" one's liver has come up before in this forum, I've noted that the best thing one can do is limit use of alcohol (and drugs in general, whether prescription or herbal, unless absolutely necessary).

    Comfrey just doesn't meet criteria for a necessary drug. The evidence for its effectiveness in any setting is weak, and so assuming any risk of major complications like liver failure or cancer, however small, is hard to justify.

    If you could buy safe pyrrolizidine alkaloid-free comfrey and there was solid evidence showing it was good for treating any problem, I'd be all for it.

  • eibren

    I have lessened my comfrey useage since becoming aware of the alkaloyd issue (I used to steam the young leaves and eat them in early Spring--they tasted a bit like asparagus, of which I am extremely fond).

    I now only use comfrey in the form of a skin gel which I purchase to use on achy arthritic joints.

    I did wonder, after reading about the comfrey concerns, when I had a hip replacement, if the hip had de-vascularized, necessitating the operation, but the amputated hip part (probably the femur head, since that is the part removed in such operations ) was tested in a medical lab and the person who tested it told me there was no evidence of devascularization.

    I am fond of comfrey because it is a big, rugged plant that usually takes hold and grows well. It is one herb you can usually count on to stick around in the garden, as long as it receives a reasonable amount of sunshine. It is also great to put in a spot where you want weeds smothered out. Comfrey grows straight up for a couple of feet, then flops over, smothering anyhing smaller in a circle around itself. It is a good background plant, because it will not seed all over the place--only problem is the persistence of even small bits of the root to produce new plants if attempts are made to eradicate it.

    Since comfrey gets an early start in the Spring, I have wondered if it might have been used in some places in the past during lean times as a source of early Spring greens--which is why I initially tried to eat some. I still think it might have been. I also believe its continued popularity may be due to how easy it is to obtain a good quantity of it, since it is such a large and vigorous plant.

    My impression is that the various strains of comfrey vary in the amount of the toxin, so that someone might have escaped problems with one strain, but another strain might cause more problems. Rather than continue the concern and lose the plant, it would be nice if someone would take it upon themselves to breed a strain of comfrey low in the toxin, if that is possible. I don't know how profitable a pursuit that would be, but it is definitely a plant that could be used as apart of an emergency food supply if a safe strain were developed.

  • theherbalist


    I think you have a reasonable handle on this subject. The leaves have much less pyrrolizidine alkaloids than the root. But even if you did eat the root, here are some guidelines:

    Only take the root for no longer than 3 months. (You would no doubt get totally tired of the taste in less time!) Since Comfrey leaf and root is a cool, moistening herb, it's used where there's tissue dryness (Yin deficiency) of the mucous membranes, along with irritation, of the lungs, stomach and large intestines.

    The use of comfrey is essentially safe for internal use, despite current legal issues. Another guideline: If it doesn't taste good, don't eat it! Let common sense prevail.

    Just my opinion and I have no scientific evidence to back up my opinion, just my experience.

    The Herbalist

  • rusty_blackhaw

    Here's an interesting article by an herbalist that covers some of the issues regarding the use of comfrey and other plants containing toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids.

    Proponents of the use of certain herbs found to have toxic properties in modern testing and case studies often argue that since these herbs have a long history of traditional use without reported problems, they must be safe. The author notes that this can give a false impression of safety.

    "What of the argument that if comfrey were toxic, it would be known by now after centuries of use? Pyrrolizidine alkaloid poisoning was only discovered in 1954. It is insidious, and can take from 2-13 weeks for onset of symptoms, even after stopping ingestion.[ 4] In the various epidemics and single cases around the world, none of those who consumed them suspected the plants as the cause."

    Since people often don't tell their doctors they're using herbs, cases of liver disease secondary to toxic herbs may never be discovered and thus the problem is underreported.

    The author of this article makes one common mistake in bringing up the far greater number of examples of liver toxicity related to prescription drugs to downplay the importance of comfrey toxicity. He's correct about relative numbers of cases - but this overlooks two key factors: one, that prescription drug use is vastly more common than comfrey use, and two, that we tolerate a certain level of risk of side effects with drug use only if those drugs work and serve an important purpose. Since there's little evidence for comfrey's medical effectiveness, there's no reason to risk severe complications by using it.

    A question for eibren: In another thread yesterday you called for a separate herbalism forum where (presumably) posts containing concerns about herbal safety and efficacy would not be allowed. Seeing that several different posters in this discussion about comfrey have brought up important safety issues, would you still feel comfortable banning such comments, or is it legitimate to bring them up so that potential comfrey users are informed about the dangers?

    For Charlie: Do you really believe that the rule for eating things is that it's OK if it doesn't taste bad? This is really, really bad advice, as a number of people who've picked and eaten wild mushrooms could tell you - if they were still around to comment.

  • theherbalist

    I love it when Eric talks to me that way. Makes me all fuzzy inside.

    If anyone would like me to expound on the body's telemetry system and herb tastes, I'd be glad to. I gave a brief overlay of tastes in the post on "Tincture Tastes." It may be the needed response to Eric's unfounded criticism.

    The Herbalist

  • rusty_blackhaw

    Fortunately, few if any readers would be fuzzy enough to believe that a questionable food or medicine is safe if it doesn't taste bad. They also realize that bitter or sour-tasting herbs can be safe and of value.

    Charlie, handing out advice like this doesn't give one confidence in your other recommendations.

  • eibren

    "If anyone would like me to expound on the body's telemetry system and herb tastes, I'd be glad to. I gave a brief overlay of tastes in the post on "Tincture Tastes.""

    I have a sense of what you mean; if I have eaten too much of something I find it less attractive in taste eventually.

    There are colorless and tasteless poisons, though, so I guess it would not be an infallible system, but it is still a good ancillary one, I think. Apparently snakeroot is sometimes eaten in sufficient quantity to cause poisoning or even death in livestock, for example. Whether that would be due to famine conditions or some other factor would be an interesting thing to investigate.

    I'm glad we are not living in times where that was the only system to use, as it was for the early humans and those in more primitive societies, though.


    (In another thread, I mentioned a desire for a calmer and more meditative approach to herbal discussions which excluded rudely expressed scientific demands.

    I did not mean to imply that scientific observation should be excluded--just the rudeness and demands which interrupt the flow of information in a thread.)

  • rusty_blackhaw

    Beyond poisons being tasteless, there are some that actually taste sweet (antifreeze and lead salts being examples).

    I'm glad that eibren has come out against rudeness in forum discussions. Hopefully, the next time someone launches a personal attack in lieu of calm discussion, she'll ask them to stop it.
    As to what "demands that interrupt the flow of information in a thread" are, the context suggests that means "statements I don't agree with". If it means pointlessly changing the subject, a good example is when an herbal treatment's safety/usefulness is questioned, and someone responds to attack mainstream medicine (even though no one has suggested employing a mainstream medical treatment). That certainly interrupts the flow of information and represents unnecessary rancor.

  • theherbalist


    You're right. I apologize for being so glib about my comments concerning tastes. But in the context of just comfrey, I am trying to dispel the fear that surrounds it by the so-called "scientific" community. It's unfounded. There's nothing to fear from comfrey. Even though SOME information may be useful, I guess scientists can prove or disprove anything with smoke and mirrors. Did you know that even too much honey can make you vomit??

    Remind me to tell you about the sassafras debacle associated with "scientific" reasoning. ha,ha

    By the way, I don't feel that a person need worry about whether comfrey is safe or not; rather, they may want to consider if they SHOULD use it, if it applies to their specific needs. It's a Yin herb, so if someone has too much moisture in their system from, say, a Spleen deficiency, then adding moisture via comfrey would be counter-productive.

    Just my opinion.

    The Herbalist

  • eibren

    Does that mean one should stay away from Comfrey if one has a cold? (I think I have just caught one from my DH, after being coughed at all week.)

  • theherbalist


    Yes! You got it! Phlegm is damp which means avoid moistening herbs. Now, to help you . . . do you have a fever with the mucus condition? If so, it is more complicated to tell you over the internet. However, if there's no fever, then you would describe your condition as cold damp according to Chinese herbology. Therefore, it's easy to choose herbs that will assist the body in healing AS LONG AS THERE'S NO INFECTION. Herbs such as yerba mansa, osha, myrrh are warm and drying which often helps a head cold. If you have no problems using alcohol, I prefer using alcohol extracts of those herbs which you can get at a good health food store. HerbPharm is a good quality brand. (If you don't like taking alcohol extracts, you can put the extract into a cup and add a cup of boiling water, let set for about 15-20 mins. That way, the alcohol will "steam off." Then drink.)

    Also, if I've described your condition accurately, try to eat steamed, rather than raw, vegetables and hot soups. They'll be more warming compared to eating cooling, raw vegetables. (Here's a test of the taste theory: With a head cold, do raw or cooked vegetables sound/taste more appealing?)

    I'm just throwing ideas at you, so if none of this applies to your immediate situation, please ignore me.

    Charlie in Arizona
    The Herbalist

  • eibren

    My DH had a fever and is on an antibiotic with it (Doxycycline 2x/day).

    I already take Doxy and Aleve on a regular basis so I don't know if I have a fever or not. My throat has been scratchy my eyes have been irritated and my sinuses feel affected w/ slight headache. Also my muscles feel stiffer than usual and I've had aches from that hip nerve that runs down the outside of my left leg, forget what they call that (oh, sciatica); had it in the other leg a few years before I lost that hip.

    I get extremely ill with colds, had chronic bronchitis before going on the Doxy--Dr. started it for something else and the bronchitis essentially went away, but comes back if I miss a dose. I theorize that I might have picked up an attenuated anthrax or other soil spore during my earlier gardening days. The soil here is very rich in clay, and I do not, in retrospect, believe it is as safe to work in close up as the sandy soil in NE. I also had allergies quite badly in my younger years; had the lining of my sinuses removed during a second polyp operation. I had college roommates imposed on me who smoked, and then in my first job out of college had to share an office with a chain smoker; I'm quite allergic to cigarette smoke as well.

    I've heard myrrh is good for things, but wow is it expensive. I had a little vial of it somewhere but it is years old at this point. I also have Zicam with the zinc gluconate in it and have had some of that.

    I actually did eat some crunchy inner leaves of iceberg lettuce with lime juice and a bit of olice oil on it and now a nice hot bowl of spaghetti and seem to be tolerating that ok.

    Earlier today all I wanted was the rest of some pho I had in the fridge and a large glass of decaf tea.

    Oh, and I did have the flu shot in September, and DH said when he went to to doctor everyone in there was coughing just like him. I've had him taking Chestal, the homeopathic cough syrup, even before he went to the doctor. He had open heart several years ago so if he gets chest involvement it's a concern, especially at his age (70's).

    Thanks for your interest.

    I've never learned too much about the humors as they relate to medicine although of course it is at the basis of the Myers Briggs personality typology via Jung, which I have spent some time studying. I also use the zodiac symbolic system from time to time for reference on various matters. I collected a copy of Gerard's Herbal years ago but have not had the organized existence necessary to do a deep study of his system. In your experience, does it match up very closely with the Chinese system, or are you mostly into Western herbalism?

  • theherbalist


    Things are more involved with you than I had first thought. Sorry. I don't recommend that you mix therapies/remedies. If you're doing something that works for you, disregard what I said.

    As for sciatica . . . I made my own observations and solutions concerning that. I discovered that your problem is not in the back, it's in the colon. Let me explain: If you lay on a hard surface (floor) and use your fingers to probe deep into the area between your left hip bone and your belly button, you'll discover a rather tender area in your colon. (Left side sciatica = left side tenderness. Right side sciatica = right side tenderness.) What I've found is that old fecal matter will develop on the colon walls and pinch a nerve (chakra point) thereby creating the sciatica. Solution? Short-term use (3-5 days) of cascara sagrada and aloe ferox (spiked aloe, NOT aloe vera). Cascara is cold energy and will increase bile flow (body's own laxative). In 8-12 hours after taking the bowels should move loosely. However, cascara is cold energy and must be balanced with the hot energy of aloe ferox which happens to be a necessary ingredient to make this combination work in ridding the sciatica. You take enough of this combination to make the bowels loosely move about 2-4 times daily. STOP taking as soon as the sciatica feels better (3-5 days). You should be good to go until the next time it happens. DO NOT TAKE THE HERBS CONTINUALLY THEREAFTER. I developed other recipes for longer term use for the liver.

    No, I don't use the information concerning humors. It's not specific and thorough enough for practical application. Actually, I've worked with another herbalist in the past 20 years to incorporate Traditional Chinese principles with western herbs. Since herbs and scientific principles know no geographical boundaries, I make about 300 western herb extracts and 50 Chinese herb extracts and keep them on hand to custom blend for my clients.

    The Herbalist

  • eibren

    Thanks for the input, Charlie, I'll check it out. I never would have connected colon health with sciatica!

    Also, I am interested in the chakras; a couple of summers ago I scarfed up a book listing, it seemed, hundreds of them, but it is up at my mother's house right now; it was obviously way beyond what I presently understand, so I left it for later. I find the meridians treated by acupuncture to be interesting, too, but I will stick to Cherney's "Accupressure, USA" teachings, I think--I don't like the idea of the needles.

    Too bad about the humors, though; I'd love to discuss the theory with someone that knows more about the medical theories behind that. Do you know of any good links setting up correspondences between the cold/hot/damp etc, dimensions and the humors?

    (I don't dwell on my health; usually downplay it unless new info comes along. I am very careful not to overdo any remedies. I was told one time that I have some sort of a genetic hypersensitivity thing that is one in 200,000, so that is something interesting I'd like to check more into, but I keep forgetting what it is called. In any case, it helps motivate my interest in herbs, but I am cautious.)

    Back on your "tastes" input, right now for some inexplicable reason caroway seeds are a big attraction to me, and I think I will do some research on them...also nutmeg, for some reason. Usually I only like both of those in tiny fact, I usually don't like caroway that much at all. Hmmmm....

  • theherbalist

    Well, caraway IS a warming carminitive which would soothe the condition you're dealing with. You might try making an infusion (tea) of it and drink several times today until you get tired of the taste. If it's going to help, it'll help within 1 day. If it doesn't help . . .Oh, well. Atleast, you'll fart less! LOL

    I don't encourage education in the realm of humors because it's outdated and has no practical application.

    I'm not familiar with Cherney's accupuncture. I must know the meridians for purposes of herb application since it's the common language between the physiology and herbology, among other means. But in this modern world (east and west), accupuncture has taken a front seat to herbology with herbs being a secondary/supplementary treatment. However, down through many centuries, herbology was the main course of treatment supplemented by accupuncture/moxibustion and that's the way I feel it should be. Accupuncture does not leave the body with anything to build on. Whereas herbology gives the bio-chemical building blocks.

    I'm rambling. Thanks for listening.

    The Herbalist

  • eibren

    Cherney (I hope I am spelling his name correctly) came out with has "Accupressure, USA" book years before acupuncture became a household word in the USA.

    The book is illustrated with old-fashioned line drawings of patients with the pressure points to use on them. I believe it must be an adaptation of something he learned from the Chinese. The book is of historical interest as an early, popularized explication of the acupuncure-like line of treatment as well as having some real, practical value for the individual sufferer. It is presented very matter-of-factly as a "How to Do It" type of book with no discussion of where the information came from; sort of an Everyman's approach.

    Cherney's book is arranged according to malady, with minimal page flipping needed to use at least some of the pressure points. I used to use it on my kids when they were small for minor ailments, but there is even one in there for appendix problems. I bought a reprint probably within the last ten years, so it's probably still out there. I should Google the author to see if I can find out more about him. His book came in handy more than once, and I try to always have a copy of it within reach. I've lost track of my current one (I've given several away to relatives), but it's around somewhere and I should probably be using it.


    The nicest thing about accupressure is that, if you don't have any herbs or meds handy, you can at least still do something to begin to help the body heal. I have always appreciated that Cherney made the effort to make something so arcane so matter of fact and practical and accesssible to everyone. It obviously took an enormous amount of work to write and print the book, which has line drawings on just about every page. I've only ever had it in paperback, don't know if they ever published it in hardbound; should check some book sites to see. Haven't thought about that in several years.

    "I don't encourage education in the realm of humors because it's outdated and has no practical application."

    Perhaps not in the way it was meant origionally, but IMO any system that a large group of people has developed and found useful over a period of time has "something" to it.
    Jung's genius was in seeing that alchemical practices were symbolic of psychological states, for example, just as the complex symbology of the Zodiac is a psychological projection (sort of like a Rorschach) of the human organism and psyche. In the Humors you have the four elements repeated three times each in the symbols of the Zodiac--Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.

    I'm very interested in symbology and symbolic systems; took a grad course in Hindu art and iconography at one point. I love to make charts of correspondences, etc.

    "I must know the meridians for purposes of herb application since it's the common language between the physiology and herbology, among other means."

    I didn't know that. Very interesting.

    "However, down through many centuries, herbology was the main course of treatment supplemented by accupuncture/moxibustion and that's the way I feel it should be. Accupuncture does not leave the body with anything to build on. Whereas herbology gives the bio-chemical building blocks."

    I suppose that viewpoint would be influenced by which area a practitioner specialized in and the accessability of a certain form of treatment to the patient. In a country like ours, full of non-meditators, accupressure, at least, would be less effective for many than something which could be ingested as a "medicine". It could actually be different than that in China, where you have a population more attuned to herbology.

    Do you take the "medicinal" approach to herbology, or the "homeopathic one? Or both?

    I feel both approaches are useful, depending on the history and condition of a patient. I am not myself a practitioner, but I have developed some opinions on these matters based on personal observation.

    "I'm rambling."

    Ha Ha, you probably mean that I ramble. Don't want to tie you up, but your experiences are of great interest to me. Not too many like you will take the time to chat on a website like this.

  • theherbalist


    First, I'll answer what strikes me most important in our conversation together since it comes up in many of my lectures and classes. Herbology is the use of herbs' nutritional values for better health. It's based on the idea that IF you give the body the needed herbal nutrients, THEN the body will heal itself. In other words, herbs should never be called medicine, they're FOOD.
    To go back maybe 100 years (more or less), I believe western medicine was getting a stronger foothold in the promotion of pharmaceutical medicines. Now comes along someone wanting to promote the Chinese system of health care. That's all and good, but like all special interest groups, the one promoting Chinese herbology gets into kinda' a pissing match with the modern medicos and wants to promote herbs with the same status as pharmaceuticals. As a result, they start promoting herbal foods as "medicine." (See how that would SEEM to give herbs more credibility?) That's just my opinion based on historical developments of the various systems over thousands of years.
    I forgot . . . I don't find the principles of homeopathy to be as specific and productive as properly applied herbal formulas and techniques. Just because someone uses herbs in their profession doesn't necessarily make them an herbalist, me included.

    That book sounds interesting. In my spare time (ha,ha) I'll try to get hold of one. At this stage of my developed career, I find that I can only gleen some information from such books. My direction is to learn more Chinese analysis and applications.

    That's my two cents

    The reason I find the Chinese 5-Phase Theory more relevant than the humors is because the Greek left out one very important element to the analysis, a fifth one. And the patterns found in the 5-Phase Theory are more complete and logical. In other words, 5-Phase will correspond completely to the inter-relationships of the 5 major systems and how they naturally interact. It's a road map to understanding how each system affects the other which, in turn, gives us the road map needed to apply the right herb. A good book that will give a bigger picture of this system is Between Heaven & Earth. It's pretty deep and not always clear to the beginner, but it's accurate as to what it provides.

    Talk at ya' later.

    The Herbalist

  • rusty_blackhaw

    "In other words, herbs should never be called medicine, they're FOOD...HERBS ARE FOOD."

    While this view does not reflect the medicinal qualities of herbs (or the numerous useful plant-derived medicines), it does have practical usage in one key area - marketing.

    Under current regulation, medicines are required to demonstrate safety and efficacy. The requirements for herbal and other supplements are far less stringent, since they are generally sold as "dietary supplements" under the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act and marketers get a lot of leeway in promoting and selling their products - far more than if they were selling prescription drugs.

    So a major factor in the labeling of supplements in general as "food" is financial.

  • theherbalist


    I promote the idea that herbs are food in the interest of the natural sciences where professional integrity can be maintained and nurtured. How is it that you can take my words and twist them into making me appear and feel as though I'm a dirty, conniving, money-hungry charlatan?

    I read with interest what Eibren said about you. Actually, I'll put more bluntly . . . about every comment you make only tears down and doesn't encourage or build-up. You're combatant, insulting and it makes you come across as a down-right ass.

    Now don't cry. Just quit talking and think about what I said to you.

    The Herbalist

  • rusty_blackhaw

    Charlie - I've been posting in this forum about the failures of DSHEA long, long before you ever showed up. It's a fact that labeling herbal drugs and other products as "dietary supplements" has been a convenient tool for marketers to dodge regulations aimed at protecting consumers from ineffective, adulterated and sometimes dangerous products.
    I did not single you out. How DSHEA might affect the "services" you promoted in this thread I have no idea.

    The snide remarks, name-calling and demands that I shut up (directed at me here and in other threads since your return) are not going to help the "strange and unsettling" atmosphere you griped about in your "goodbye" thread.

    If you'd like to talk about DSHEA or why, contrary to the opinion of many herbalists and other practitioners you believe comfrey is safe (rather than just declaring that it's safe and others are wrong), I'm open to discussion.

  • eibren

    "... why, contrary to the opinion of many herbalists and other practitioners you believe comfrey is safe (rather than just declaring that it's safe and others are wrong), I'm open to discussion."

    Look above you. ("Posted by johnyb QLD Aust on Tue, Mar 1, 05 at 3:55")

    "If you'd like to talk about DSHEA"

    Fine, but if the two of you do, I'd also like to hear of all of the cases of monopoly and excess in Big Pharma.


    Another nice thread taken over--essentially trashed-- by a ruthless male quest for domination, irregardless of the cost....

    ...With almost everyone else's input ignored as if it doesn't count.


  • rusty_blackhaw

    I was asking Charlie why he believes the many herbalists and other practitioners who warn about the hazards of comfrey usage are wrong. I addressed the previous poster on this score five years ago. If anything meaningful has changed, let's hear about it.

    "I'd also like to hear of all of the cases of monopoly and excess in Big Pharma."

    Just search past threads. The failings of Big Pharma are often brought up when an herbal treatment is questioned or consumer protection regulation of the multi-billion dollar supplement industry is discussed. "They do it too!" is not very helpful when the subject is herbs and how to assure that herbal products are safe and effective.

    eibren: "Another nice thread taken over--essentially trashed-- by a ruthless male quest for domination"

    Two women who posted multiple times in this thread about the risks of comfrey are Judy B and daisyduckworth. How exactly do they fit into your conception of "a ruthless male quest for domination"? :)

    Threads get "trashed" when posters can't tolerate disagreement and give in to the temptation to start flaming others. We can do without that.

  • eibren

    "Two women who posted multiple times in this thread about the risks of comfrey are Judy B and daisyduckworth. How exactly do they fit into your conception of "a ruthless male quest for domination"? :)"

    They posted information without being insulting. It is the "insulting" part, and the demand that one poster, and one poster only, answer you which brings threads to a dead stop.

    "Threads get "trashed" when posters can't tolerate disagreement and give in to the temptation to start flaming others. We can do without that."


    So stop doing that.


    I plan to read your links, but the fact that one of them is an article called "Quackwatch" is not very congenial, either.

    Where is the link to your own previous posts?

    What you don't seem to get is that, even if someone were a so-called "quack," that does not necessarily make them an evil person or someone not worthy of courtesy.

    I wish you would take seriously my input to you in the other thread. It was well meant, and I doubt that in your personal life anyone will ever tell you those things. People as argumentative as you appear to be tend not to get much feedback; other people just don't bother.
    The skills I mentioned are real skills that can be taught, and most people of wealth use them regularly. They are part of the skills set that is necessary to move up in life for most people, despite the present-day emphasis on getting ahead by being obnoxious.

    Maybe under the system of humors you would be classified as "choloric", but you would have to ask Charles what herbs were applicable for the condition.

    This is not an issue of agreement or disagreement with your individual herbal points. You have a full right to make your points, as does EVERYONE on here, without harassment or insult.

    What you don't seem to appreciate is that some of the people you attack (to me, it is attacking) probably know a lot more about herbs than you do and just enjoy sharing their insights. You don't have to agree with them and you can make all the conflicting posts you want, but they don't owe you any "proofs", and they certainly do not need to be insulted. Find your own documentation for or against and simply present it, as does everyone else on here.

    It seems to me that there are other viewpoints in here that you simply will not tolerate. In fact, it appears to me that you want to do away with traditional, empirically based herbalism altogether. You seem to want to turn herbalism into a laboratory science which excludes all field knowledge. If you are for the medical lab approach exclusively, you really may not belong here; this is a GARDENING website. Although information on remedies, etc. is shared, it is NOT a "medical website", it is a cultural one in which arcane knowledge regarding ancient and modern herbal practices are shared by, mostly, gardeners. There is a whole area of gardening devoted to herbal gardening, in part an effort to save cultural knowledge that has been swept aside by modern practices.

    People should not really be coming to this site in search of "cures" for specific conditions, either--they should be going either to medical sites or the sites of accomplished herbalists, or to their own physicians. What should be happening on here is information regarding how to grow medicinal herbs, and what those herbs may be capable of. To me, the focus should be on the individual herbs, not medical conditions. I am uncomfortable posting information regarding growing medicinal herbs on the culinary herbs forum. Although I understand to a certain extent the reasons for calling medicinal herbs food, because they really are--in a foraging society, everyone would have tried some of them--I feel it is unfortunate that the modern scientific establishment has such a monopoly that it is necessary to do so to protect a whole body of traditional knowledge from ruthless extermination.

    You acknowledge that you are here because you want to drive herbalism forward under the medical model, and you have indicated by your actions that you will tolerate nothing else. You will not tolerate any other point of view, because YOU want to push forth YOUR OWN viewpoint of herbalism. In actuality, you are "selling" something, too--the field that you want to work in, as you want to work in it. If you eliminate from the workplace competition others that are more skilled than you in herbology itself, rather than lab science, you have made a rather large, selfish win--just like those who make money from selling herbs. There is no moral superiority in service to a great cause there; therefore, there is no excuse for a lack of courtesy.

    These issues are so central to where herbalism is in modern times that I do not feel that addressing them constitutes "flaming". In fact, I doubt that few people who exist just to "flame" others are on this site. Most people here are gardeners who like to share gardening information--which happens to include knowledge about herbal gardens and various cultural practices around those. It's really irrelevent to the historian if the herbs worked for what they were grown for, or not--the interest is historical, and many of us are interested in that information. Those who wish to have gardens of herbs that can be safely used to assist in various conditions may be more interested in the modern scientific viewpoint regarding specific herbs, but not all of us really care, since we would be unlikely to actually use many of the herbs we grow in any case. I grow some herbs because I know that bees like their nectar, and am hoping that may give the bee population a little boost, for example. Not everything about herb gardens is just about humans. I greatly enjoy the insect activity they encourage, for example. When I was doing research on the internet to find out more about the elderberry, I was delighted to find a monograph detailing all of the insect species attracted by the various forms.

  • theherbalist

    Hey! How about those Phoenix Suns!!!


    Charlie in Arizona
    The Herbalist

  • rusty_blackhaw

    ...all is calm...all is bright...

  • Malcolm Macqueen

    interesting comments & research on comfrey above, thanks. We use it as an organic NPK plant feed in gardening - after fermenting/pulping leaves in a large vat, as well as mixing the fibrous pulp in with compost heap. It is possible to spill concentrate onto skin, though the smell usually prompts the user to wash soon after spillage. In gardening or medicinal/herbal use, it is the risk assessment process that is most helpful. That is weighing up the potential severity of injury against the likelihood of it happening, as well as the potential benefits. Thereafter reducing the potential Risk by selecting appropriate protective measures- for instance limiting your daily intake of potentially harmful substances (cigarettes/coffee/tea/alcohol/drugs, etc.).

    Lots more healthy research required

Need help with an existing Houzz order? Call 1-800-368-4268