Comfrey oil (Symphytum officinale) is another potent herbal remedy for skin care. It is high in allantoin, a mucilaginous healing substance that causes cell growth.
An old European folk remedy, many uses of comfrey abound.
Being mucilaginous, common uses of comfrey include healing wounds, preventing scars and treating existing ones, decreasing dryness and flaky skin, and soothing irritated skin.
Comfrey also has mild astringent and drawing qualities, making it useful for alleviating cysts, toning a loss of texture/firmness on the skin and increasing movement of fluid within the joints.
It is anti-inflammatory and analgesic and has been used externally as an ointment to assist in the healing of sprains and broken bones.
It also shows effectiveness in treating atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema.
Care needs to be taken not to use comfrey too soon on wounds, as it may heal the top layers before the lower which could lead to infection. Comfrey root is also fairly high in pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are a liver toxin. External use in small doses when the liver is healthy is considered safe.
Let’s Make It!
Both the root and leaf are useful for making comfrey-infused oil. Comfrey leaf has an irritating and prickly texture. It can cause some contact dermatitis; however, it is a soothing agent when broken up! The root is very juicy, mucilaginous and high in allantoin.
If possible, use freshly dried herbs for this purpose.
To freshly dry comfrey root: dig the root when it is dry weather, clean by hand or using some water and a vegetable brush if needed. Brush the root gently however. Chop finely; lay out on a paper bag overnight.
To freshly dry leaves: harvest, wipe the dirt off with a towel, and allow to dry whole overnight.
Here is my favorite comfrey oil recipe:
8 oz Comfrey leaf (70%)
4 oz Comfrey root (30%)
Extra virgin olive oil, to cover, approximately 16 ounces
The roots should already be broken down by chopping. Go ahead and break up the leaves by hand. To make this using the cold infusion method, put all the herbs in a 16 ounce glass jar, cover with olive oil, cap and shake. This can steep for 28 days. To strain, use an old t-shirt lined in a strainer, pour the mix through into a bowl and squeeze the t-shirt with herbs in it. The strained liquid is your comfrey oil!
To make comfrey-infused oil using another method, including those that take less time, check out the article Herbal Oils.
Reference: Efficacy of a Comfrey root extract ointment in comparison to a Diclo-fenac gel in the treatment of ankle distortions: Results of an observer-blind, randomized, multicenter study. Predel, Giannetti, Koll, Bulitta, and Staiger, 2005.
Photo Credit: By Frank Vincentz (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons