Comfrey has a long history of use in traditional medicine, and is well supported by research as a safe and effective treatment for muscular pains and aches.
Cultivated for over 2,400 years, Comfrey is renowned for its healing properties. Various alternative names reflect the history of this usage in folk medicine, and include "Knitbone", "Bruisewort", and "Boneset". Greeks and Romans used comfrey to stop bleeding, treat bronchial infections, and heal wounds and broken bones. Poultices were made for external wounds and tea was consumed for internal ailments.
Comfrey contains a substance called allantoin (shown above), which gives it its healing properties. It's interesting to note that allantoin is also found in the milk of nursing mothers and the fetal allantois (a structure which helps support the developing embryo), from which its name is derived. It appears that allantoin affects the rate of cell multiplication, contributing towards Comfrey's healing effects.
Wounds and burns heal faster when allantoin is applied, possibly due to an increase in the number of white blood cells. Comfrey leaf extract has been reported to promote healthy skin, and to induce collagen production. Its high mucilage content moisturizes and soothes, while allantoin promotes cell proliferation.
Recent History of Comfrey
The book, "Comfrey: Past, Present and Future" by Lawrence D. Hills, a British pioneer in organic gardening, presents one of the most comprehensive overviews of Comfrey's historic to near-present cultivation and usage. It presents a range of case studies where comfrey treatments conferred significant benefits, however, its publication predates the rigour of modern clinical trials. Fortunately, these studies have subsequently been conducted, and are covered in the section below.
In the book, a physician recounts a case in which a man had a tumour removed from the nose and antrum, which was found to be a round-celled sarcoma. A month later the growth returned and was "blue, tense, firm and lobulated"... further operation being out of the question the man was sent home. About three months later the man walked into the doctor's office with the tumour completely disappeared, and he had no pain. He told the doctor he had treated it by applying poultices of comfrey and the swelling had gradually disappeared. Similar findings led to the closer examination of comfrey and exploration of its potential in the clinic.
What the Modern Clinical Research Says
Multiple clinical studies support the efficacy and safety of comfrey preparations for the topical treatment of pain, inflammation and swelling of muscles and joints in degenerative arthritis, acute myalgia in the back, sprains, contusions and strains after sports injuries and accidents, also in children aged 3 years and over.
Due to its excellent efficacy and safety, it has been recommended as "a part of the physicians’ standard treatment toolbox." For a full breakdown of this clinical research read this review, published in Phytotherapy Research.
Five Elements Comfrey Balm
A longstanding history of effectiveness coupled with clinical evidence motivated us to use comfrey as a hero ingredient in Five Elements Comfrey Balm. In addition to organic comfrey leaf extract, from plants which we grow ourselves, it contains cumin, frankincense & eucalyptus essential oils, which provide additional anti-inflammatory benefits.
Benefits of Comfrey Balm:
- Organic comfrey leaf extract soothes muscle, tendon, ligament and joint discomfort.
- Rich in allantoin, which increases moisture retention and helps regenerate connective tissue.
- Contains Five Elements signature five skin-healing herbal extracts.
- Cumin, frankinsence and eucalyptus impart anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
- 100% Natural. Contains no parabens. petrochemicals, artificial colours, fragrances or preservatives.
- Made in Marlborough, New Zealand from locally grown ingredients.
We hope you found this article informative. Whether you're an active athlete, ultramarathon runner, or plain old bugger - we all suffer from wear and tear in our daily lives! If you know someone who suffers from muscle or joint pain, why not recommend giving Five Elements Comfrey Balm a try. It is available in a smaller 15ml sampler tub as well, if you would like to test it out.
Diet, is another factor that should not be overlooked when considering the treatment of arthritis and joint pain. Studies have shown that supplementing your diet with anti-inflammatory compounds such as curcumin can play a role in preventing inflammation and speeding recovery. Read this article for an overview of the potential benefits: Turmeric for Arthritis & Joint Pain: Rheumatoid, Psoriatic & Osteoarthritis.